Group Riding - An Overview
If you have ever wondered why we ride using Group Riding techniques, the simple answer is: It's much safer. OK, I think we're done here.
For those who would like a little more detail, read on.
The heart of the group ride is the staggered formation.
The lead bike takes the front left track in the lane. Bike number two is positioned in the right track, one to two seconds behind the leader. Bike three is directly behind the leader, and maintaining a two to four second interval. The rest alternate as bikes two and three until the last bike, the drag bike. Generally, the drag bike will remain in the appropriate position but is free to move left or right to perform drag bike duties.
The drag bike rider, more than anyone else in the group, is responsible for the safety of all the members of the group
Did you know that? Inexperienced riders and bikes without a CB are positioned near the front so they can easily see the leader's hand signals. Trikes and bikes with trailers are in the back of the group, just ahead of the drag bike since they may need more room to maneuver.
As the group's speed increases, assuming we maintain the one and two second intervals, the distance between bikes increases.
That extra space is exactly what you need when the group encounters a hazard like debris in the road, bicyclists or whatever. Each rider has that space right next to him to use to avoid the hazard. He can move over, temporarily, until he is past the hazard and then resume his previous position. These open spaces within the formation improve sight distance as well. The riders can see both left and right and ahead at 4 degree angles. That's a lot of unblocked eyeballs scanning ahead. Safe braking distance is assured with the two to four second in track interval, particularly when the open spaces allow the rider to see the brake lights of bikes several positions to the front.
Finally, all riders and co-riders in the formation have two important duties.
- Continuously scan the road ahead for hazards, letting the group leader know of any danger to the group
- Pass along hand signals to the rear.
Our goal for group rides, whether to a local ice cream shop or halfway across the country, is to have fun and arrive safely. Using Group Riding techniques and the staggered formation does the heavy lifting in achieving this goal.
NC-E Chapter Educator