Doing the group thing

Throttle Therapy: There’s magic in motorcycling when riding in groups

I’ve done it with a group of students, I’ve done it with hundreds, and I’ve done it with just one other.

Group riding, done well, can be a beautiful thing.

Creating a group

Who goes where matters. A lot. The most experienced riders need to be strategically positioned at the front (“Lead”) and the back (“Tailgunner” or “Sweep”) of the group. Experienced is not necessarily defined by mileage but by a mature understanding of their own limits, and the limits of their motorcycle.

Further, like most great leaders, they need to be primarily concerned about the people in the group and less so on their own grandiosity.

Why? Because the least experienced riders need  their guidance, not their ego.

To best serve them, those with less experience need to be tucked in between the middle and end of the group. Should a less experienced rider run into difficulties on the road, they can pull over and be seen (and assisted) by the experienced tail gunner — without affecting the whole.

Before the ride, be sure everyone knows where the pit stops are. They will be defined by the need of the least experience rider. Same with fuel stops. They will be defined by the group’s smallest gas tank.

Personally, I find groups between five and eight to be most manageable. Should there be more riders (like some fundraising rides have hundreds of participants), I’d still recommend taking the initiative to define the group of riders you want to travel with.

This way, if a traffic control nuisance (like a traffic light or a logging truck) splits up the group, then the small group can pull aside where it is safe and legal to do so, and re-convene at its convenience.

Communicating

At the Vancouver Island Safety Council, we had three signals, all using the horn.

One honk for regular usage; two for signal lights left on after executing a turn; and, three to indicate the group needed to pull over where it was safe and legal to do so.

Four, if you count the “thumbs up” signal we’d all give before heading off.

Since standard horns have limited reach, you may need to adjust your communication signals according to the size and needs of your group.

Staggering

Understanding staggered formation is a column in and of itself. For the purposes of this column, let me just say that shifting from a staggered double lane ride to a single formation ride is usually determined by the rider ahead of you.

And if the rider ahead of you falls out of formation, your job is not to “correct” them; instead, you try to figure out the reason, and if there is none, fall in formation with them. Safety comes from staggered formation, not from singular one-upmanship.

Packing

  • Your bike’s tool kit
  • Emergency first aid kit
  • Rain gear
  • Cell phone
  • A bottle of water
  • A tank of gas

Dos and don’ts

  • Do ensure your bike is mechanically sound.
  • Do position yourself one second behind the rider staggered ahead of you.
  • Don’t ride side by side. Ever.
  • Do your own shoulder checks whenever changing lanes, lane position, turning, stopping or starting.
  • Do ultimately think for yourself. Even in a group, the bottom line is you must ride your own ride, and think for yourself.
  • Do fill your tank.
  • Do empty your bladder before you go.

Doing it

If you want to experience a group ride, there are several co-ordinated rides still to come this summer.

July 21

Inaugural Canadian Women’s Ride Day

This ride is organized and hosted by West Coast ROAR to “support, encourage and empower one another.” It starts at 2490 Trans Canada Highway, Mill Bay, at 10:30 a.m. Registration at 9:30 a.m. Fee is $10 and includes a drink and a hotdog. $20 if you want the t-shirt.

Men are invited to attend the post-ride events on location. “Look, 100 Sexy Beautiful Women on bikes….Good God guys, don’t miss this one!” writes Greer Stewart, one of the ROAR owners ,about this event.

August 4/5

The Memorial Road Ride

Promoted by Sooke’s Kenco, our neighbourhood motorcycle shop, this ride happens on Sunday/Monday August 4/5. It’s a ride presented through the Victoria Motorcycle Club, and is described as “A fun, scenic, road ride. Everyone welcome, overnighting in Port Alberni staying at the Best Western-Barclay Hotel.”

To sign up, go to the Sooke Legion on Eustace Road at 9 a.m. on the morning of the ride. It costs $10.00 per bike (excluding accommodation and meals of course), and breakfast will be served at $5 a head. For more information, call Ken at 250-642-3924.

Sunday, Aug 25

The Miltary Police National Motorcycle Relay Ride is on it’s fifth year of doing a coast-to-coast fund-raising ride for underprivileged children. At this point, it’s too late to ride up for the Newfoundland departure, but you can probably still get in on the Vancouver Island leg. On Sunday, Aug 25 they are doing a 6 hour ride from Comox to Victoria, meeting up at CFB. For location and confirmation of dates, visit mpnmrr.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Victoria shovels free home-made compost out to gardeners

Ideal for prepping food gardens, the compost, mulch and wood chips will be at city parks for pick up

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School South Campus Monday morning to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Students protest proposed cuts to SD61 music programs

Proposed $1.5-million cut would hit elementary and middle school programs

New programs and services aimed at helping the unhoused find shelter or housing in Victoria, and to take advantage of support services of various kinds, could be funded if a City of Victoria grant application is successful. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria seeks $3M to $4M in grant funds to enhance community services for unhoused population

Various supports, services for unhoused population part of broad-based funding application

Victoria Police Department seized a replica firearm during an early morning call to the 100-block of Gorge Road East on April 11. (VicPD handout)
Victoria police seize replica firearm in early Sunday morning call

Officers called to temporary housing facility in 100-block of Gorge Road East

Road improvements in Sooke are nearing completion . (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Sooke road work nears completion

Projects part of $5.7 million in improvements

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 6

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

Most Read