Group vs. Solo Riding

_Ortiz Big Apple Motorcycle SchoolBy Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School

Group vs. Solo Riding

On a recent cross-country trip with a large group, many riders decided to divide up into smaller groups or even ride alone. The multiple large groups sometimes swelled to 20-25 riders, plus lead and tail riders. We also had a ride leader in the middle if there was one available. This worked out pretty well for the first few days. But then we found that people were asking for alternate routes to the daily destination so they could go on their own and meet us there at the end of the day. I asked them why they wanted to go alone, or in a smaller group and got a variety of answers.

Those that decided to ride in groups of three or four riders said they found it easier to make stops for food and fuel without overwhelming the facility, as we did when we stopped with 15-20 bikes. Other reasons included wanting to get to the destination faster than the large group, which typically took longer because of the aforementioned stops for gas/food/bathroom etc.  They weren’t too interested in sightseeing along way and wanted to get to the hotel early so they could park their bikes and go to local places of interest, or needed time to do laundry and relax. Others were the opposite. Some said they wanted to stop at more places than the large group, or that they had special interests like a park or memorial that wasn’t on the master itinerary. The solo riders said they rode alone at home or they wanted to try it out, knowing that help from the group was just a phone call away. They also knew we would be looking for them if they didn’t show at dinner that evening at our end-of-day destination.

This worked well and many riders came and went from the large group throughout the three week trip. The only requirement was that they let the Ride Leader know of their plans each morning at the daily rider’s meeting. For safety, most rode with the large group through areas that were lacking in services (fuel/food/cell phone coverage) for long stretches. Those who had only ridden alone prior to the ride said they enjoyed the camaraderie of the other riders and not having to worry about directions or where their next stop was. Others said that being in a smaller group and having the flexibility of being able to stop wherever they wanted to was important.

Either way, riding solo, with one other person, a few people or in a large group, it can be a new and challenging experience if it’s different from what you usually do. After trying them all, I have to admit that my favorite is riding with my husband George (who writes the Outside Edge column here inside Full Throttle magazine). We’ve been riding together for many years and he knows when I need to stop and vice-versa without even a signal. With just the two of us, we set a pace which is sometimes leisurely, but more often lively, our lines matching through the corners secure in each other’s ability. He encourages me to lead the ride, even though I’m directionally-challenged, and doesn’t mind stopping at my favorite coffee shop even though he only drinks tea. The perfect riding partner!

Whether you choose to ride alone or with company, ride safe and enjoy!