Outside Edge August 2015

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeMultiply by three

By George Tranos

Sometimes we travel in threes. While this is not a large group, it is different than riding by yourself or with only one other person. With three bikes, there is a leader, middle and trail rider. For those who only journey alone and rarely ride with others, any group will be daunting. The responsibility of the lead rider increases with every additional person in the group. If the number of motorcycles exceeds seven, consider breaking up your contingent into multiple groups each with its own lead and trail rider.

george tranos

Three though is a manageable number. You can find that opening in traffic and if you leave enough room manage to get all the motorcycles through it. Staying together is easier this way but sometimes no matter what you do, you can get separated. Don’t panic – the riders just need to find a way to regroup. Most of the time this happens when the lead rider slows down or when the trailing bikes pass the vehicle that gets in between. The most important thing is to not do anything dangerous or stupid!

With larger groups, many riders bunch up and don’t leave enough following distance in between riders. While this may discourage the aggressive interloper from infiltrating the line, it may also create higher risk for those who are riding too close to their brethren. One hesitation or miscommunication can create a ripple effect in the assemblage and possibly causing a collision among riders.

This can manifest itself at times of uncertainty, such as when the lead rider is unfamiliar with the route or makes a wrong turn. Last minute decisions and unpredictable actions can cause moments of panic and abrupt maneuvers. Perception of the event by its participants can create poor reactions. As a ride leader, I try to remind everyone that it takes time to identify a hazard and even more time to react. That’s why when riding, you should continue to use a strategy to search and identify potential hazards all the time – even when close to your destination or your home – and when the hazard can be the motorcycle directly in front of you.

Our most recent trip with three riders was a short one. It was just seventy five miles each way, however, we were riding through one of the most target rich environments full of hazards and roadblocks – New York City! We also needed to cross two bridges in each direction and on top of all that, we’d be returning during the exodus prior to the Fourth of July weekend. Luckily, we made the trip there in less than two hours – even after getting lost trying to find the exit and having to circle back around. Going home we were not as lucky. It took us three and one-half hours through the parking lot known as the Belt Parkway. As one of my riding companions mentioned afterwards, it was the longest clutch control lane ever.

Even though it was a tough trip back, we still enjoyed our time together riding. Somehow, taking a friend along increases the pleasure of the trip. You can multiply by three when you have two companions with you. Just remember to not subtract the safety margin you need when the group size increases. Keeping together was important but even more important was getting there and returning home safely. Hopefully, the next trip will be longer but it’s hard to imagine that it will be more memorable.