Riding in groups
Group riding is a popular pastime, but is not without its risks. A significant number of motorcyclist casualties have occurred when riders are in a group. If you decide to join a group ride, please keep in mind the following points:
Ride to the bike behind you
One of the main factors in crashes while in a group is when riders try to keep up with the bike in front. This can easily be avoided if you ride to the bike behind you rather than the bike in front – keep the bike behind you in your mirrors all the time.
Ride your own ride
If you drop off the group, don’t be tempted to ride beyond your abilities. If the rider in front of you is quicker, don’t succumb to peer pressure and get out of your depth trying to keep up.
The other main factor in group riding crashes occurs whilst riders are trying to overtake other traffic to keep up with the leader. To reduce the risk, give the rest of the group time to catch up by backing off until followers are also past.
It’s tempting to follow the rider in front when they overtake. Always make your own decision based on the conditions you are experiencing at that time – never rely on the observations or actions of other riders in your group.
Pass other vehicles one at a time, not as a group. Each rider will have better visibility ahead, spend less time on the wrong side of the road and have more time and space to react if something goes wrong.
Plan regular fuel and food stops at least every 90 minutes. Devise a plan for on-road communications; agree signals for low fuel, road hazards, upcoming turns etc. Never turn off the road unless you are sure the follower has seen you.
Ride in staggered formation when possible
When road width permits, ride on alternate sides of the lane you are travelling in. This not only enhances visibility but also helps to create a safer space around each bike.
Take regular breaks
Group riding can be more stressful and tiring than solo riding. Fatigue has caused many biker crashes, especially on the way home from a group ride. Take regular breaks and reduce your speed when you recognise you are losing concentration.
Motorcycle campaign – ‘Mike’s last ride’
Mike Mangan, 72, from Bolton, sadly died on 11 September 2013 in Wheddon Cross, Somerset, when he was involved in a collision with an oncoming vehicle whilst overtaking. Mike, a retired electrical engineer, was on the last ten miles of a 320 mile journey and his family believes that tiredness was a contributory factor in his death.
Inspector Mangan, 43, also from Bolton, was with his father at the time of the fatal collision. Mike was riding his BMW 1200RT, travelling from Lands End to Minehead.