July 2021 Newsletter

From our President 

In this month’s message I’d like to talk about our riding formation. We have a few things that need improvement. How we ride has a great deal to do with our group safety. I say this, not just based on training, but also on personal experience.

When the spacing between riders is too short, there is a much higher risk of collision between riders. This is often compounded by distractions from a riders music system, GPS, gawking at the scenery, unfamiliarity with the route, etc. Leaving adequate space between riders allows time to react safely to situations as they arise. It’s quite common on group rides at motorcycle rallies, where the riders may not be familiar with each other and, more importantly, not familiar with group ride rules, for there to be collisions between riders. One such rally I attended a few years back resulted in the deaths of club members because they collided with each other.

Riding in a staggered formation is another way to get a little room between bikes, making for a safer ride.

So what’s the right spacing? Two seconds is recommended. As the bike in front of you passes a mark, begin counting: “One thousand one, one thousand two.” You should reach the mark as you reach “two” in your count. This works regardless of your speed. Personally, I do this several times on every ride when I’m behind another bike.

So, if a little spacing is good, a lot of spacing must be better, right? Well, no. Big gaps in the formation can cause a couple of problems. One is that it allows traffic to get between us. This makes it hard for the road captain to see where all the riders are. It makes it hard for riders to follow the group when they can’t see the group because of the cars in between. If riders are not familiar with the route, they can miss a turn they didn’t see the rest of the group make. Once riders get separated from the group, they sometimes do unsafe things to catch up with group. The other problem with big gaps is it makes it impossible for the ride captain to see the whole group. He can’t tell if the group is all together or if someone has dropped out. One of the benefits of group riding is we take care of each other. No one is going to get left behind. If one of the bikes has a problem, we will stop and take care of it. But, if the group is stretched out for a mile, we may not know there’s a problem right away. Then someone has to go back and find the missing bike or bikes. This can turn a simple issue a major one when the missing bike is way back there.

So try to keep the space between you and the bike in front of you at about 2 seconds. It affects the safety of the group. Now, if you’re like me, this is easier said than done. My attention span is about 4 seconds. When I’m in the pack and trying to maintain the correct spacing, suddenly I’ll find I’ve fallen way behind. Maybe a 6 to 10 second gap. So I close the gap and try to keep the gap at 2 seconds. So just do your best. On the other hand, if your riding style is to intentionally leave a big gap ahead of you, ride too closely, or wander around your lane when you should be staggered, that needs to change. The rest of the group is counting on it.

David Long