This month I am going to touch on the subject of group rides. I have to admit, for the last several years I have made it a point on most group rides, to ride in a small group of people I know. The comfort of knowing how others around you will react in certain situations is something I have taken for granted until last weekend.
As some of you know, the Adrenaline Extreme Combat Fight For Kids ride was held last weekend. I was nominated to be road captain without my knowledge, however, since I have led rides before so I figured, why not? After the ride was over I had time to reflect on many things I saw during the day that disturbed me. We had over 150 bikes on the ride and I am happy to say no accidents occurred, but we were lucky.
I am going to touch on several things I saw that bothered me. Some of the incidents were minor but two in particular could have been a disaster. As we left our first stop, not only did several riders decide they were in too big of a hurry to wait for the group, but one rider on a sport bike in this pack also decided to impress us with his wheelie and stoppie abilities. I am a big believer in personal freedom and have always felt that if you feel the need to kill yourself that is totally up to your discretion. On the other hand, pulling stupid stunts in a formation endangers everybody, and I won’t put up with it. I made an announcement at the next stop that these types of actions would not be tolerated and left it at that.
As we proceeded from our second stop, I was actually in the front again. Before departing I advised some close friends that I and a few others would act as blockers for the formation and that they were to keep the group moving. This worked fine until we hit the open road. My buddy Shark and I were headed back to the front of the formation when several riders decided they wanted to go with us pulling right out of the group. As you can imagine, this caused a problem at the front of the pack when these folks wanted to rejoin. I listened to the complaints from several riders at the next stop. Most complaints were directly related to people not paying attention to keep proper spacing, not filling gaps etc. I spoke to as many folks as I could about group riding etiquette and hoped for the best.
On the trip from our third to our fourth stop, I was treated to one of the most asinine sights I have seen in a while. Keep in mind there was an intermittent sprinkle going on. I was cruising along at the front of the pack minding my own business, when a group decided that this must be the race portion of the ride. I was running 70 mph easily and this group went by us like we were standing still. We were coming up on two cars side by side so I of course slowed. Believe it or not, the leader of the high-speed pack decided he was in a big enough hurry that passing the two cars by going in BETWEEN them was the smart move. Luckily the rider made it, but had he not, he could have put a lot of good people on the ground.
The rest of the ride was uneventful if you leave out the blinding downpour we hit. The rain sent most of the group packing, and as of this writing I have heard of no accidents or injuries. We were lucky; the actions of a few risked the safety of many. Think about this the next time you are in a group ride. If you are in a group, act accordingly, be safe and keep everybody safe. There is no place for grab-ass stunts when you risk the lives of others.
See ya next month! Loney Wilcoxson
PS: This Independence Day, take a little time to remember our forefathers who fought to give us the ability to ride free.