Group Riding Information
The purpose of riding in an organized group instead of an undisciplined pack is to provide for the additional safety that a well-organized group ride inherently generates. When a group rides in an orderly fashion, people don't get in each others way, and the organization of the formation itself discourages other vehicles from attempting to cut in. For example we have seen trucks move to the far side of their lane to minimize their wind blast on us when they see a well-ordered formation "single up" and move as far away from the truck as their lane allows.
Once Group Riding Protocols have been adopted by a group, EVERYONE riding with that group is expected to follow them. Anyone violating the protocols and compromising everyone's safety will be warned and if their actions continue will no longer be welcome to ride with us.
The Road Captain will go over hand signals, route, etc during the pre-ride briefing. It may not be exactly as you read it here and may vary from one ride to another. If you have questions, please ask BEFORE the ride starts.
Please take a moment to review the MSF Group Riding Video. MSF Group Riding
Riding will be in a standard staggered formation unless the Road Captain calls for single file. In staggered formation, the bikes form two columns, with the Road Captain (ride leader) at the head of the left column. The second bike will head the opposite column, and will ride approximately 1 second behind the Road Captain (and in the opposite side of the lane). The other riders will position their bikes 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front of them, which puts them 1 second behind the bike diagonal from them. This formation allows each rider sufficient safety space, and discourages other vehicles from cutting into the line. The last rider, or Tail Gunner, may ride on whichever side of the lane he prefers. He will wave to change sides during the ride, based on the situation at the moment.
2) Road Captain
The Road Captain (Ride Leader) is responsible for the safety of the entire formation. He must be aware of the length of the columns, and must gauge the passing of merges, highway entrances and exits, to allow for maximum safety and for keeping the group together. He/she must make sure that he/she leaves enough time/space for the formation to get into the appropriate lane before exits or turns. All directions come from the Road Captain. The Road Captain makes all decisions regarding lane changes, stops for breaks and fuel, closing of gaps, turning off at exits, any concerns of what lies ahead and so on. NO individual will assert himself independently without direction from the Road Captain to do so.
3) Tail Gunner
The Tail Gunner (Sweep) serves as the eyes of the Road Captain. He/she watches the formation, and informs the Road Captain of any potential problems within the group. He/she watches other vehicles, and informs the Road Captain of hazardous conditions approaching from the rear, such as vehicles trying to cut into the formation and trucks passing with potentially dangerous wind blasts. The Tail Gunner will watch for merging lanes, and will move into a merging lane (or stay in a merging lane just vacated by the group) in order to "close the door" on other vehicles that may otherwise find themselves trying to merge into the formation. At the Road Captain's request, the Tail Gunner changes lanes before the group, to secure the lane so the group can move into it.
4) New Riders
The position of new (inexperienced with GROUP riding) riders within the group is significant. New riders should be positioned as close to the front as possible. New riders should be teamed up with an experienced rider. It's the new rider's responsibility to understand all ride signals and rules.
5) Lane Changes
All lane changing starts with the Road Captain or the Tail Gunner. The Tail Gunner will (when it is safe to do so) move into the desired lane and the Road Captain will make the lane change when the lane is clear. At this point the Road Captain has three options.
A) Simple Lane Change. This is an ordinary lane change, and can be used in most situations.
After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Road Captain will put on his directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal. The Road Captain then initiates the change. All other riders change lanes too. The important concept is that NO ONE moves until the bike in front of him has started moving.
B) Block Lane Change. This can be used interchangeably with the Simple Lane Change.
It requires a little more work, but it is well worth the effort. Its quiet impressive to watch, and gives the riders a tremendous feeling of "togetherness". This sounds a little complicated, but is actually very simple to do. After The Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Road Captain will put on his directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal. The Road Captain then raises his left arm straight up. Each rider repeats the signal. Then, as the leader lowers his arm to point to the lane into which he's moving, he actually initiates the change. All other riders lower their arms at the same time and change lanes too. This allows the entire formation to move from one lane to another as a single block.
C) Rear Fill-in. This is sometimes necessary if a long enough gap cannot be maintained in the new lane, for example when trying to move from the right lane to the center and vehicles from the left lane keep cutting into the opening.
After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Road Captain (usually at the suggestion of the Tail Gunner) will call for the group to fill in the space from the rear. He signals this by raising his hand and "pushing" it towards the new lane. All riders repeat the signal, and the last bikes move into the space in the new lane ahead of the Tail Gunner, then the next bikes move in ahead of those, and so on until the Road Captain finally moves into the space ahead of the entire formation.
In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the Road Captain will make every attempt to move the formation to the shoulder in an orderly manner. If a bike breaks down, let the rider move to the right. DO NOT STOP. The Tail Gunner will stop with the problem bike. The road Captain will lead the group to a safe stopping place.
7) Hand Signals
NOTE: The Road Captain may have a different set of hand signals for a particular ride. Pay attention to the pre-ride briefing!
Thanks to the Hill Country Motorcycle Riders of Texas MeetUp group for the information!
Riding a motorcycle for me, and I hope you all, is a natural high and I never need any alcohol or narcotic stimulation of any kind prior to or during a ride.
Then there is the whole issue of impaired riding and with all the bad drivers on the road we don't need any slowed reaction times our fellow motorcycle enthusiasts. It's bad enough when other motorists drink and drive/ride or use/abuse drugs. You must stay at the peak of your alertness at all times to not only enjoy the ride, the scenery and the fellowship but also to be on "full alert" to other motorists, road conditions, weather and other factors.
Let me be absolutely clear on this issue: There will not be any reference to alcohol, it's usage before or during any CMR ride activity.
The potential safety, medical and legal implications are too high... and while we cant administer blood/alcohol tests prior to and during a ride we can certainly take a positive stand against usage before or during a CMR ride.
Whatever a CMR rider does on their own time after a CMR ride is up to them and their good judgment. I hope you all understand the reasoning, safety issues, common sense as well as potential liability.