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If you have any questions on the following and/or would like some coaching, please contact the Chapter Safety Officer at [email protected]
Chapter rides are led by a Road Captain (RC) and are modeled after the guidelines outlined in the Harley-Davidson HOG® Handbook and the Riders Edge – MSF video.
Each group will have a ‘Sweep’ RC (last bike in a group). The Sweep is responsible for identifying and reporting problems in the group (such as gaps from traffic lights), and coordinating/addressing breakdowns or accident scenes. Please do not ride behind the Sweep bike.
Other Group Information You Should Know:
Again, the focus is to ride and have fun… safely.
Wild Prairie Group Rides:
Show up for rides 15 minutes before departure. Prior to departure, there is a pre-ride briefing. Please give the briefing your full attention. Feel free to ask questions!
Group Riding Maneuvers:
When the RCs are ready, the Leader will mount up, pull forward from the parking spot and wait for the group to get ready. You need to mount up, line up, and get ready to leave.
Usually the Lead Bike will not exit a parking lot unless there is room for all or most of the group to follow immediately. If the group is split, the Lead Bike will take the slow lane until the group can form up in the positions that the riders will keep for the duration of the ride.
This may mean traveling slower than surrounding traffic, encouraging cars to pass, allowing the group to form up. Occasionally, this cannot be accomplished until the group has made a lane change or entered a freeway. Note: Regardless of the Lead Bike’s signals, each rider is responsible for his/her own safety at all times.
A group of bikes riding together does not exempt you from the ‘laws of the road.’ Note: If the group is too stretched out, the Lead Bike may slow down or pull over in a large parking lot for the group to get back in formation.
Staggered Riding Formation
The group will ride in a staggered formation starting with the Lead bike in the left side of the lane. Keep a 2 – 3 second distance behind the bike directly in front of you. Staggered formation will continue unless the Lead Bike signals for single file.
Reasons for single file formation: passing situation, poor road conditions, and obstacles in the road, approaching a bicyclist or pedestrian, coming to an exit / entrance ramp or tight curves.
Regardless staggered or single file, each rider commands the entire width of their lane and has the right to move left or right as preferred.
Trikes, Sidecars, or Bikes With a Trailer
Ride in the center track. Due to additional weight, allow a longer gap behind these bikes (as if they were a car). The first bike behind a trike/sidecar/trailer returns to staggered formation in the left side of the lane.
Filling Gaps in Staggered Formation – Cross Over
If a rider drops out of a staggered formation, it is desirable to preserve the integrity of the formation. The bikes that are behind the gap fill-in by crossing right or left into the other column. Do not fill the gap by passing the bike ahead of you.
Riders are expected to come to a stop side-by-side (two abreast). The riders should proceed through the intersection in pairs when safe to do so. This is the only situation where riders are side-by-side in a traffic lane. Once through the intersection, riders resume their left or right side of the lane. If cars get in-between riders, let them in.
Obey traffic laws. Do not ‘run’ red lights to remain with the group. Road Captains will alert the Lead Bike that some of the group remains at a traffic light. When safely possible, the Lead RC may pull on the shoulder or a parking lot to allow others to re-join.
Hand Signals used on Chapter Rides
Lead Bike initiates hand signals. All riders should pass the hand signals back to the riders behind you as a courtesy, and because all riders may not be able to see the Lead Bike from their position in the formation.
Turn Signals: Most bikes have turn signals — use them. Hand signals used in conjunction with turn signals give everyone in the group and other traffic a clear idea of you intentions.
Two Lane Passing
If the Lead Bike decides to pass a slow moving vehicle, each individual rider must decide if it is safe to follow.
Only pass when you have ample room and visibility to safely complete the pass. Pass one at a time acting as an individual. Never blindly follow another bike in a passing situation. After passing, move far enough forward to allow room for the riders that will come behind you.
Leaving the Group, Unanticipated Stops or Breakdowns
If you plan to leave the group early, notify the RCs. This way they will know that you do not have a problem or need assistance.
If you suddenly need to stop or experience a breakdown, signal your intention to pullover and do so safely. At least one of the RCs will stop to assist you, probably the Sweep. The rest of the group should continue. It is not safe to have dozens of bikes pulled over on the side of the road.
Exceptions to Normal Guidelines
Ride your own ride! Remember that riding in a group does not mean you surrender any decision making when it comes to your safety. This means that any guideline for group riding can and should be ignored when it does not ‘feel right.’ Determining when this is the case and acting prudently is each rider’s individual responsibility at all times.