In the last post, we took a look at some of the tips that we should all know when riding in a group. As we said last time, lone-riding is great and something we all enjoy, but when riding with a group of friends - or strangers, there are certain considerations that we must all make. Here is part two.
Keep your lights on - and if you have spotlights (dual-sport bikes), use them too. You can never be too visible on the road, and the road leader uses your lights to count those following. A bike without lights on is a danger to the group and can easily fall behind where there is no 'sweep' rider.
Arrive for your group ride with a full tank of fuel. There is probably nothing more annoying to others than having to stop for one-or-two riders to fill-up because they 'forgot'! Also, ride the bike that suits the route you intend taking because having a bike with a five-liter tank capacity in a group of 25 liter tanks becomes a pain!
Keep within the 'safe-zone' of the pack - ride behind the leader and ahead of the 'sweep' at all times. 'Breezing' your road leader will cost you at the next stop, while falling behind the 'sweep' places you at risk. If you experience any problem while in a group, remember the golden rule - pull off the road and stop. No-one will think anything about you being cautious, but don't abuse this by stopping for photo-opportunities, smoke or rest-breaks and other non-emergency needs unless you absolutely can't hold it in anymore!
Overtaking in a group can also be a dangerous process, because of the follow-my-leader mindset that we adopt in groups. Just because the guy ahead of you makes the pass without any problems, don't assume that you can do likewise. Ride your ride when it comes to overtaking and rather play catch-up than loose your life following blindly. A good road leader will attempt to stay in the oncoming lane as long as possible to indicate to the rest of the pack that the road is clear, but don't underestimate the space you need personally to pass safely.
Remember that you are ALWAYS responsible for your own speed, especially when riding in a group. Some may think it's cool to race at 90 km/h or more through a residential area, but you don't have to. The same applies for traffic lights: the riders in front of you ride through a red light, because the one in front was dumb-enough to give a bit of extra gas at an orange light? Simply stop!
Your behavior as part of a group differs from the chances and attitudes you may have as a single rider. If you are arrogant and abusive of other road - users or even pedestrians, remember that the guy behind you is more likely to get the punishment that you deserve as the recipient of your behavior strikes back. If you want to be the tough-guy on the ride, do it on your own and avoid group riding altogether!
And finally, fatigue is a real 'killer' in group rides because unlike single riding, your eyes are constantly watching the guy ahead of you bobbing and weaving down the road, and that has a profound effect on your ability to concentrate. Recognise when fatigue sets-in and pull-over to rest when you feel you can't go any further. Good road leaders tend to ride with this in mind, so check the distances that will be traveled in each leg beforehand, and if concerned, raise it with the leader.