Riding Tips April 2016

_Ortiz Big Apple Motorcycle SchoolSpring is here! And so are the motorcycle rides that benefit a myriad of charitable organizations and clubs. There are so many of these events that you could probably schedule one for every free day you have available! These can be a fun way to meet other riders and as a bonus, contribute to a good cause. Many beginning riders are drawn to these events for just that reason and may not realize the high level of skill that is needed to successfully and safely ride with a large group.

It’s not just group riding where you usually know the 4-6 people you are riding with. That also has challenges, but usually they are more manageable. Riding with a group of 60-100 motorcycles can be a thrilling experience, but it also increases the risk.
Here are some tips to insure everyone has a great day!
1. The first thing you want to do is know the route in advance. Usually there is a group rider meeting where they hand out maps and cellphone numbers.
2. Remember that riding in a group does not mean you surrender any decision-making when it comes to your safety. Ride your own ride, and don’t go any faster than you feel comfortable going.
3. Ask if there are any special hand signals being used so you can communicate while on the ride.
4. Most larger events have experienced riders at the lead and running sweep. If you are a less-experienced rider consider positioning yourself immediately behind the leader. Ideally, the sweep rider will have a cellphone to call for help if a motorcycle is disabled, or if there has been an accident.
5. While riding, don’t fixate on the motorcycle in front of you. Instead, remember your basic training. Look well through the turn to where you want to go.
6. If the group is riding faster than you are comfortable with, let the sweep rider know you’re dropping out and ride at your own pace. You may reach your destination a few seconds behind the others, but you will get there, and that’s what’s important. Keep in mind, it’s all about fun.
7. All riders are also responsible for making sure their motorcycles are mechanically up to the task. Before you even meet up with the group, make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank, and that you’ve taken care of all those maintenance issues
8. If it’s going to be a large group, consider establishing a buddy system among your fellow riders. That way, if something goes wrong, you don’t have 25 motorcycles sitting on the side of a busy highway.
9. On the road, motorcyclists should have at least a 2-second cushion in front and behind them. If you want to keep the group tight, consider a staggered formation. Leave enough room per lane so each rider can maneuver side-to-side if need be. Avoid side-by-side formations as they shrink your space cushion.
10. Trikes and sidecars should stay in the center of the lane, and should be given the same amount of cushion as if they were a car.
11. As turns get sharper, or as visibility decreases, move back to a single file formation. You’ll also want to use single file when entering or exiting a highway, at toll booths, or when roads have a rough or questionable surface.
12. At intersections where you’ve come to a stop, tighten the formation to side-by-side to take up less space. As the light turns green, or when traffic opens up, the bike on the left proceeds through the intersection first. We share the road with many other vehicles so don’t block an intersection – it’s against the law.
Remember the other riders have a wide range of experience and skill and there is often very little space to maneuver. Feeling comfortable on your bike and having experience riding with small groups before attempting a “mega-event” can go a long way to making sure you have a successful and fun ride.

Ride Safe!