Motorcycling is a common interest that we all share and enjoy. It’s the wind in your face, the smells of the land around you, and the feeling of unobstructed freedom. But with these sensory pleasures comes responsibility, to ourselves and those around us. Group Riding adds another level of responsibility; all members in a group ride need to work together for the safety of all. There are several approaches for safe group riding. Riding clubs / organizations may differ in their approach but usually the goal is the same… group safety. This page presents some of the key elements that describe Ancient City Chapter’s approach to group riding. Please familiarize yourself with this approach before you ride with us.
During Ancient City Chapter group rides, the group is divided into three sections as follows:
- Front section consists of one or more bikes that include the Ride Leader, 1 Road Captain and 1 radio equipped rider.
- Middle section consists of the bulk of the riders that may include radio equipped riders and Road Captains tasked to assist the Ride Leader (at the discretion of the Ride Leader) during the ride.
- Rear section consists of one or more bikes that include the Sweep, 1 Road Captain and 1 radio equipped rider.
Note: Usually, the Ride Leader and Sweep are radio equipped Road Captains however, neither position requires those attributes. All three wheelers will ride in the Rear Section if not leading the ride.
The Ride Leader is in-charge of the ride. He / she assumes the lead position in the group next to the center line in the lane. Ride Leader duties include:
- Plan the Route; Create a map of the route or write a written description of the route. Include known hazards or areas of construction if known.
- Responsible for completion of waivers and the sign-in roster for the ride.
- Responsible for conducting the a Pre-ride briefing to review the route and safety information.
- Call the establishment at our destination if possible and give them a head count.
- Assign & coordinate with radio equipped road captains within the group.
- Coordinate turns, passing and lane changes with the Sweep (via radio equipped Road Captains within the group if needed).
The Sweep rider is the last rider in the group. He/she assists the Ride Leader with group safety and integrity. Sweep responsibilities include:
- Capturing lanes when requested to do so by the Ride Leader.
- Notifying the Ride Leader of any situation / occurrence that potentially impact group safety, i.e. fast moving traffic passing the group, vehicles behaving erratically, etc.
- Notifying the Ride Leader of any situation / occurrence that potentially impact group integrity, i.e., merging traffic, vehicles otherwise entering the group, etc.
- Notifying the Ride Leader if a group member has a problem.
The Rider Leader will conduct a briefing prior to beginning each ride. The Sweep Rider and Road Captains assigned to the Middle section will be identified. The destination and route will be reviewed along with a discussion of any traffic or safety hazards that may be encountered along the route. Essential ride procedures (key hand signals, lane changes, formation changes, etc.) will be reviewed as required.
Communication within the group is an essential component of group safety. This is accomplished using hand signals and CB radio.
The primary means of communication for Ancient City Chapter is the use of Hand Signals (as described on the Hand Signals page). The Rider Leader will always communicate with the Group using hand signals. Each rider in the group is responsible for passing back (repeating) the hand signals as they occur. While the use of CB radios is normal and encouraged when available, hand signals are always used in conjunction.
Ancient City Chapter uses CB channel 24 to communicate during rides. If possible, at least 1 radio equipped rider will be positioned in each section of the Group.
Radio protocol – Generally, radio communication is between the front section (usually the Ride Leader) and the rear section (usually the Sweep Rider) of the group. During rides involving a relatively large number of bikes (usually more than 15-20), the Ride Leader may position radio equipped Road Captains within the group to relay information between the front and rear sections. To avoid confusion, all radio communication should be directed to a specific rider who is initially called-out by name. For example, if the Ride Leader is Bill and the Sweep Rider is Sam; Bill should begin all communication with Sam by stating “Sam” and similarly if Sam is the one initiating the communication he should begin by stating “Bill”.
Ancient City Chapter rides in a staggered formation most of the time. The staggered formation consists of two columns of bikes within the same traffic lane. Spacing between the bikes follows the 1 second / 2 second rule as shown in the figure below. The physical distance between riders is speed dependent so spacing should be maintained in terms of time (seconds). Every rider should attempt to maintain a 1 second separation between himself and the rider in-front of him in the adjacent column and 2 seconds between himself and the rider in-front of him in the same column.
Spacing will always vary somewhat for a variety of reasons. The goal here is to maintain group integrity (a tight formation) to avoid problems with other vehicles and at the same time maintain space to safely maneuver to avoid hazards. Always allow the riders in-front and behind you to "own the lane" in case maneuvers become necessary.
NEVER ride along side of another bike. The only time we assume a side-by-side formation is at stops.
Occasionally, the group will ride in a single file formation. There are several situations where riding in single file may be appropriate, i.e., hazards on the road or shoulder of the road, narrow roads, etc. The Ride Leader will initiate the change to a single file formation when needed using the appropriate hand signal and CB radio communication when available. The Ride Leader will also initiate the change back to staggered formation when needed using the appropriate hand signal and CB radio communication when available.
Single File Formation:
When traveling on divided highways it may become necessary to change lanes to avoid hazards or to pass slow moving traffic. Lane changes will ALWAYS be initiated by the Ride Leader. In a nut shell, our approach to lane changes is to have the Sweep rider capture the new lane and allow the traffic clear between the Sweep Rider and the Rider Leader before moving the Group to the new lane. Members of the group should follow the Ride Leader. We always change lanes from front to back after the Sweep Rider has captured the required lane. The five figures below illustrate our approach to changing lanes.
Note: Florida law requires moving to the fast lane when a police officer has a vehicle pulled-over on the shoulder of the road or moving to the slow lane if a police officer has a vehicle pulled-over in the fast lane.
Group approaches a slow moving vehicle:
Sweep rider moves to & captures the left lane:
Lead rider waits for traffic between lead and sweep to pass:
Lead rider moves to the left lane:
Group follows leader to the left lane.
When traveling on two-lane roads it may become necessary to pass a vehicle. The decision to pass is at the sole discretion of the Ride Leader. To initiate the pass, the Ride Leader will accelerate to passing speed, pass the slower moving vehicle and maintain passing speed until all members of the Group have passed the slower moving vehicle. Each member of the group should maintain passing speed after passing the slower moving vehicle along with the Ride Leader. Once all members of the group have passed the slower moving vehicle the Ride Leader will decelerate to normal cruising speed.
Filling a Gap:
The entire width of the lane belongs to you. When a gap / hole (excessive space) occurs in the formation due to a bike leaving the formation, you simply change your position in the lane. If you are riding next to the center line move to the right. If your are riding next to the shoulder move to the left. ALWAYS make a head check before initiating a maneuver. Your mirror view or what you saw just a second ago is no substitute for your own eyes or judgement. Crossing over to fill gaps in a formation is found to be the safest way to fill a gap by both HOG and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Note: It is illegal in all but two states to pass another vehicle or motorcycle in the same lane.
Holes (excessive space) in the group not only make the group take-up more highway, they also invite motorists traveling at higher speeds to cut into the formation and run up on the bike in-front of the hole. When a hole develops in the stagger, each member of the group must work together to protect the others.
If a bike develops mechanical problems (breaks-down) during a ride, the rider should stop on the side of the road or in a safe area as soon as possible. The motorcycle immediately behind the affected bike and the Sweep Rider will also stop to render assistance. All other motorcycles in the Group will continue on the ride. The Sweep rider will notify the Ride Leader by radio or cell phone as soon as possible.
If a bike is involved in an accident during a ride, all riders behind the affected bike should stop to render assistance and provide witness statements as needed. The Sweep rider will call 911 for emergency assistance and notify the Ride Leader by radio or cell phone as soon as possible.