Women Riders

Group Riding Tips

Written by  June 30, 2007

Well, believe it or not, 2007 is almost half over now, but the good news is there is still plenty of riding season left. The bike nights are in full swing, there are charity rides every weekend and many rallies to choose from. I love the season changes, but these are the months I look forward to the most.

A lot of us ride in large groups, so I’d like to share some of the basic rules and common courtesies. When everyone is in sync it makes for a much more enjoyable ride, not to mention a safe ride.

Once we decide a day and time to meet we make sure everyone knows they need to be gassed up and ready to roll at the designated stop. We usually have to tell one couple a half hour earlier on departure because they are notoriously late, and that does not set well with the others who usually arrive 15-20 minutes early.

I remember one trip that we left without them. We were 30 miles down the road when we stopped for breakfast and our phones started ringing …… “Where the hell are you guys?” Our response was, “Where the hell were you at 7:30 a.m.?” They eventually caught up with us as we were finishing our breakfast. It was pretty tense when they walked in, but as the day wore on everyone chilled out. There were many more rides waiting on the same couple, but bless their hearts, that is just the way they live their lives. So, we wait, forgive and cherish the rides we have with them.

The Leader: The leader will be the road captain and lead the way by setting a reasonable speed for the ride. They will warn of obstacles in the road using hand signals, and the riders behind will pass the warning on to those in the back. The leader will have the route mapped out ahead of time, and will know exactly where they are leading the group. The leader should follow the “Tailgunner,” referring to the last person in the group setting the pace. Using your mirrors, keep an eye on the person behind you. If they lag behind, slow up. By doing this, everyone in the group will stay together. The “Tailgunner” is also responsible for staying with anyone who drops out of the group for any reason.

Formation: Staggered formation is the most preferred in group riding. The leader rides in the left tire track, beginner riders should remain up front, while the experienced riders remain at the back. Maintain a two-second interval between your bike and the bike in front of you. Do not switch lanes from right to left tire track as you will be cutting off the bike behind you.

Signaling: When the leader gives a hand signal, pass it back. For turns, also use your turn signals.
Start Engines- Left arm raised, index finger pointed upward and rotating.
Left hand turn - Left arm straight out to the left.
Right hand turn - Left arm out and bent from elbow at a 90-degree angle.
Single file - Left arm raised, index finger pointed upward.
Slow down - Left arm down, at 45-degree angle with palm open, pushing down.
Roads hazards - Pointing with left hand or left or right foot.


Lane Changes: The Tailgunner moves over first to hold the lane after the leader has signaled. Lane changes are made from back to front and riders should always use their mirrors and head checks before changing lanes. For changes to the left, the riders in the left tire track move over first, followed by riders in the right tire track. Reverse for right lane changes.

Dropping Out of Group: If you need to make a gas/pit stop you will need to signal ahead of time to give the riders behind you plenty of notice. If you know in advance you are dropping out along the route, please let the leader know. Wave to let them know you are okay. The riders that were following the departed rider should fill in the gap by switching lanes and keeping the staggered formation intact.

All Others: Maintain safety of the group be staying alert! Always use your headlights, perform frequent mirror checks, and remain aware of your position in the group. Obey traffic laws and speed limits, and pay attention to traffic and road conditions.

Once everyone knows how to maintain their position in group riding, it not only makes for an enjoyable ride but also a safe ride. Get out there with your group and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. There is so much to see and so little time. Make the best of it while you are out!

Have a safe, happy and sparkling 4th of July!

Goldie Arnold

“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: Pick up the packaged miniature wash cloths at the Dollar stores to carry with you. They are compressed to the size of a cookie and are durable. All you need to do is add water and watch it grow! It’s a kid thing, but great for biker adults!