GUIDELINES FOR GROUP RIDES
For Local Union # 3 Motorcycle Club
By: Lee Haberman
Riders should arrive at the meeting place 15-20 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Bikes must
have a full tank of gas. Riders must be wearing proper riding gear.
All riders will be organized in a staggered formation, with the leader up front in the left tire track. Riders
with less experience will be placed up front, and more experienced riders will be in the back. The
staggered formation will be maintained, keeping a two-second interval between your bike and the bike in
front of you in the same lane (tire track). A one-second interval is maintained between your bike and the
bike diagonally in front of you in the other lane (tire track). It is critical to maintain the staggered formation
with two-second interval between bikes that are in the same lane. One additional second following time may
be added, depending on speed and road conditions; however, too much space between bikes causes the
group become too spread out, thereby becoming a hazard to passing cars.
Please maintain your position in your lane; do not switch between right and left tire tracks, as you will be
cutting off the bike behind you!
3. RIDING POSITIONS
LEADER: The rider at the head of the group, in the left side of the lane (left tire track). The Leader has the
ultimate responsibility for the safety of the group. He must set a reasonable speed for the ride, taking into
consideration the road conditions and the various riding skills of the group. He will warn of obstacles in the
road by pointing with hands or feet, as he is the only one in the group that has a full, unobstructed view of
the road. If a hazard is pointed out to you, please pass the warning on to those in back of you. Only point,
however, if you are comfortable in doing so. Never let go of the throttle to point, as the sudden
deceleration will create a risk of being hit from behind. If evasive action is necessary to avoid an object,
make it obvious to those behind you.
The Leader as well as the road captains should have the route mapped out ahead of time, and know exactly
where he is going. Pre-riding the route before taking the group is essential to a successful group ride. But
not mandatory. A tank bag or other means of securing maps and directions to the gas tank is important as
double-checking your location is essential, but maps should be consulted only after coming to a stop! Do
not attempt to read maps "in flight". The Leader should have several copies of the route to pass out to
other leaders of sub-groups and road captains, if there is a need to split a large group. The maximum size
of a group should be whatever is agreed on.
Under most conditions, the Leader is the one everyone else follows, and the one who gets the blame if the
group gets "off route". Remember, no one "gets lost" on a motorcycle; just think of it as an opportunity to
explore and practice your U-turns. When you're Leader, try not to take criticism personally; if you're doing
everything right, you've got a bunch of people behind you with little else to do but watch everything you do.
They're bound to see something that they'll rub in the next time you stop. It's all part of the "fun".
Remember to lighten up!
NUMBER TWO: The second in formation; in a staggered formation this is the rider behind and to the right of
the Leader. Number Two shares the responsibility with the Leader of alerting the group of any obstacles in
the road, by pointing and deliberate avoidance.
If Number Two starts leaving a wider gap, or goes into single file behind the Leader, there is probably a
good reason and the rest of the group should follow suit.
Number Two's primary responsibility comes into play when the group executes a right hand lane change on
a multi-lane road. The Leader will signal the intent to move into the right lane, the Tailgunner will move over
first to hold the lane, thus signaling the beginning of the lane change. The Leader at this point does not
have a clear, unobstructed view of the right lane, but Number Two does and can make sure that it is safe to
move over. Now a safe, orderly right hand lane change can be made. The riders in the right position move
to the right lane, followed by the left position riders. The same conditions apply during a left hand lane
change, but the left riders move over first, followed by the right side riders. This looks like "Highway Ballet"
when done smoothly and correctly.
TAILGUNNER: The Tailgunner (Usually appointed by the Leader and Lead Road Captain) is the rider bringing
up the rear of an organized group, and rides in the same lane (tire track) as the Leader (usually the left) for
easier visibility. The Tailgunner is responsible for making sure that the adjoining lane is clear for lane
changes on multi-lane highways. When the Leader signals for a lane change on a multi-lane highway, the
Tailgunner moves over to the lane desired and holds the lane before everyone else moves over.
A good Tailgunner should know what lane to be in before the leader even knows. Similar to a good
apprentice knows what his mechanic needs and has it ready before the mechanic even asks for it.
The Tailgunner is also the rider responsible for staying with anyone in the group who must drop out of
formation for any reason. The group will usually stop and wait at a safe place off the road. The Tailgunner
will then catch up to the group to report on the reason and possible delay time, then head back to assist
the rider in trouble. Number Two works with the Leader to make sure everyone else is safe and comfortable
ROAD CAPTAINS: Road Captains are necessary; the Number Two and Three positions usually perform this
duty. If CB radios are used, the Tailgunner can function as a Road Captain. The need for Road Captains will
be used, as it is illegal and dangerous to hold up traffic for any reason. The only time a Road Captain or
Captains should be used is when the group is trying to enter a stream of slow moving traffic, such as a city
street at rush hour, or parade formations, or to help entering intersections. Placing a bike in front of an
already stopped or slowed-to-a-crawl car will permit the group to enter the stream of traffic without getting
split up. The Lead Road Captain will decide if more Road Captains are necessary and how many are needed
for the ride.
If making a right turn, the left Road Captain will block traffic from the left; when turning left, both Captains
may be needed. If needed before the ride starts they may be some members asked to help out with the Lead
Turns and Turning
When turning left, the right lead bike should safely block oncoming traffic. The group should continue
through a red light only if blockers have the intersection secured. If blockers are not used, be sure the
riders behind you know that you intend to stop. The group should know who is blocking. Do not follow
Blockers/ Road Captains
Blocking intersections is risky and very often, an unsafe practice. However, an exception is an escorted
ride. If you block, review these: Blockers also known as road captains. Blockers should be designated as
such by the Lead Road Captain. Turn headlights toward oncoming traffic when blocking, and use 4-way
flashers if possible. Urge riders to tighten up and move as quickly as possible through blocked
intersections. Have a procedure for getting blockers to the front from the rear. Blockers/ Road Captains
shall be permitted to pass the pack on the left of the rest of the riding group to prepare for the next
intersection. Blockers should always be chosen from more experienced riders in a group.
EVERYONE ELSE: Everyone else has the responsibility for maintaining the safety of the group by keeping
alert! Personal safety as well as group safety is dependent on the conscientiousness of each rider. Do not
daydream and sightsee! It only takes a moment of inattention to cause a serious mishap. All riders must use
headlights, perform frequent mirror checks, and remain aware of their position in relation to the group. All
riders must constantly observe traffic and road conditions. Do not fall into what I refer to as “the tour bus
mentality”. Just because you are not leading does not mean you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. You
are following closely and must pay as much, if not more, attention as you would if you were riding alone.
Everyone Else determines whether or not the ride is a success. We can destroy the best ride by constantly
forcing others to wait for us, leaving our position in the formation, complaining about small points at each
rest stop, and countless other ways. By the same token, we can save a rough ride by doing our best to
smooth out inconsistencies in the formation, showing appreciation for other riders' efforts, and having a
good time in spite of weather and/or road conditions.
Specifically, the riders in the middle of the group must maintain their position in the formation. Choose a
following distance that you are comfortable with (the 2 second rule is a good guide); don't follow closer
than a distance that you are comfortable with, but stay close enough to discourage cars from breaking in.
Then hold that position. Try to maintain a constant speed, using gradual rates of acceleration and
deceleration to keep a consistent position in relation to the riders ahead of you. Stay on your side of the
lane, unless you must move to avoid something; not much is more disconcerting to a rider than to
repeatedly have his/her following distance cut in half because another rider drifts from one side of the lane
to the other.
Be familiar with the responsibilities of the Leader, Number Two, and Tailgunner, as there will be times when
the group is split by traffic lights, etc. and you will temporarily find yourself as the Leader or Tailgunner of a
mini-group until everyone can be reunited. Do not rush to catch up. If the split is large, the Leader will slow
down or pull over and wait for the rest of the group. If only one or two cars are separating the group,
remain cool. Wait until the whole group can safely pass to catch up, or wait for the cars to move over or
turn off. It is better to play it safe and wait. Be patient, sooner or later it will be possible to safely and
smoothly rejoin the group. Novice and inexperienced riders should ride in the middle of the group until
they are comfortable riding in a group. The Road Captain(s) or those who have ridden the route should ride
up front…again, not riders with big egos. Experienced riders should also be the rear of the group…this is
done to maintain order.
All maneuvers of the group will be communicated through hand signals. When the Leader gives a hand
signal, pass it back. For turns, also use your turn signals
· Start Engines: Left arm raised, index finger pointed skyward and rotating.
· Left hand turn: Left arm straight out to the left.
· Right hand turn: Left arm out and bent from elbow at 90 degrees
· Single File: Left arm raised, index finger pointed skyward.
· Slow down: Left arm down, at 45 degree angle with palm open, fingers closed and facing the riders
· Road obstacles: Pointing with left hand, left or right foot.
5. LANE CHANGES - MULTI-LANE HIGHWAYS
Lane changes are made from back to front, with the Tailgunner moving over first to hold the lane, after the
Leader has signaled. All riders must use mirrors and head checks before changing lanes. For changes to
the left, the riders in the left tire track move over first, followed by riders in the right tire track. For changes
to the right, the riders in the right tire track move over first, followed by riders in the left tire track.
Even if the group has the right of way in merging traffic, yield to cars. They are bigger, so if they are not
properly yielding just let them go. It is not worth risking injury to try and prove a point with a car. If the
group is split, be patient until we can safely regroup.
6. GAPS - SPACE CREATED BY DEPARTING RIDERS
Riders intending to drop out of formation en route (can't do the whole ride, or turn off early on way home,
etc.) have the responsibility of informing the Leader. These riders should take a position near the end of
the group. When turning off, signal ahead of time to give the riders behind you plenty of notice. Wave to
the group to let them know that all is well. After the rider has departed, the riders behind this rider will fill in
the gap by switching lanes (tire track), thus restoring the staggered formation. Pay attention and beware
that this is what will occur. The rider immediately behind the rider who has left will change position first,
followed in turn by each rider behind them. Please do this one at a time, from front to back.
7. GAS STOPS
Gas and rest stops will be planned approximately every 90 miles on long trips. When we stop for gas,
please top off, unless you are absolutely sure that you can go 180 miles without hitting reserve! We will not
make unscheduled gas/rest stops, except for emergencies (breakdowns, illness, etc.).
If your bike becomes disabled or you are not feeling well, signal and pull over. The rest of the group behind
this rider will pull over as well. When the front of the group notices, they will pull over as soon as it is safe
to do so and await a report from the Tailgunner. A decision will then be made as to who will continue on and
who will assist the rider in trouble. This is an important reason to keep checking your mirrors!