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RULES FOR GROUP RIDING
YOU are entirely responsible for your own behavior in all circumstances during the ride.
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.
Riding in a group is not only about being visible, but it’s also about working together as a team regardless if you are a group of two or twenty – communication is key. Simple agreement between all riders for the use of hand signals works ideally. When riding as a group it is important to remember that your safety and security is managed individually. Riding in a group does not relieve any rider of their responsibility to apply good judgment, nor does it place the responsibility for your personal safety onto the group leader.
Arrive on time with a full gas tank. Ensure you have needed personal protective clothing and glasses. All riders are responsible for making sure their motorcycles are mechanically up to the task.
Riding will be in a standard State Patrol (staggered) formation. The bikes form two (2) columns, with one (1) Road Captain at the head of the left column, so he will be able to view all bikes in the formation in his/her rearview mirrors, and be able to see around vehicles the group approaches. The Officers shall fall in line behind the Road Captain. All other members will position their bikes 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front on them, which puts them 1 second behind the diagonal bike on opposite side of the lane. A single-file formation with a minimum of 2-second following distance is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed. Trikes and side- cars should use center of lane, and be afforded the same amount of cushion as if they were a car. This formation allows each rider sufficient safety space, and discourages other vehicles from cutting into the line. There should be no passing within the lane of the group. The last rider, or Tail Gunner, will be the second Road Captain and may ride on whichever side of the lane he prefers. He will have to change sides during the ride, based on the situation at the moment. If a car merges into the group, give it space and wait for it to move on. If it does not leave the group, The Tail Gunner shall secure a change lane to carefully pass the vehicle and restructure back in front of the car at the Tail Gunners signal.
The Road Captain must be aware of the length of the columns, and must gauge the passing of merges, highway entrances and exits, etc., to allow for maximum safety and keeping the group together. He/She must make sure that he leaves enough time/space for the formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions come from the front Road Captain. The front Road Captain makes all decisions regarding lane changes, stopping for breaks and fuel, closing of gaps, turning off at exits, any concerns of what lies ahead, and so on. NO individual will assert himself independently without direction from a Road Captain to do so, unless need arises for safety.
The tail gunner Road Captain shall be the last in formation and serves as the eyes of the front Road Captain. He/She will watch for merging lanes, and will move into a merging lane (or stay in a merging lane just vacated by the group) in order to “close the door” on other vehicles that may otherwise find themselves trying to merge into the formation. He/She watches the formation, and any potential problems within the group. At the request of the front Road Captain, the tail gunner changes lanes before the formation, to secure the lane so the formation can move into it.
All lane changing starts with a hand signal from the front Road Captain. All members then signal (just signal don't change lane) so Tail Gunner receives signal. The Tail Gunner will (when it is safe to do so) move into the requested lane. Only then shall all other members, when safe to do so, move (rear members to front members) into requested lane. This formation is called “fill in from rear lane change”. The from rear to front lane change helps to ensure any vehicles traveling in the requested lane shall be blocked by Tail Gunner prior to group changing lanes. Remember to keep formation. If the rider in front of you hasn’t changed lane, DO NOT pass them. Keep formation and 2 second following distance and wait for them to take lane. All should be checking their mirrors.
In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, The Road Captains will make every attempt to move the formation to the shoulder in an orderly manner. If a bike breaks down, let the rider move to the right. DO NOT STOP. The Tail Gunner will stop with the problem bike. The front Road Captain will lead the group to a safe stopping place.
Each rider (and passenger) should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of him, so that the signals get passed all the way to the back of the formation. The following signals are used in addition to the standard (right turn, left turn, slow/stop) hand signals.
FILL IN FROM REAR
After the Tail Gunner secures the requested lane the Front Road Captain raises his left hand to his shoulder and “pushes” his open hand toward the lane into which he want to move. This signal is repeated by all riders, and each rider in turn, rear most first, moves into the space ahead of the riders behind them.
When conditions warrant single file (narrow road, anticipated wind- blast from trucks, obstruction, pedestrians, etc.) the Road Captain will raise his left hand straight up, holding just his index finger. All other riders will repeat this signal, and the two columns will merge into one.
After singling up, when single file is no longer necessary, the Road Captain will raise his left hand with thumb and pinky out, other fingers closed (like the rock on sign), rotating his wrist back and forth (indicating left, right, left, right). All other riders will repeat this and resume staggered formation.
When the Road Captain feels that the formation should be tighter (bikes closer together), usually after seeing Tail Gunner signal to inform him/her, the Road Captain will raise his left hand with fingers spread wide and repeatedly closes them into a fist. All other riders repeat this and “close up” all unnecessary space in the formation.
This is the one signal that can be initiated by ANYONE in the group. Anyone seeing a hazardous condition on the road surface (roadkill, oil, gravel, significant pot hole, etc.) will point at it. All following riders will repeat this, and all riders will avoid the hazard.