The only thing more fun than flying down the open roads of Colorado on your motorcycle is riding with a group of friends. People will hear your group coming long before you arrive, and it’s exhilarating to feel like you own the road. However, there are certain precautions group riders must take in order to have a safe ride, as well as keep other motorists and pedestrians safe around them.
Before partaking in your riding adventure, it’s important that there is a leader who is the designated organizer of the event. Depending on the length of the ride and the number of participants, this can be an informal meeting over dinner or something more organized in which the leader compiles cellphone numbers and hands out maps with the route marked for everyone to study. During this meeting, it’s a good idea to establish:
Who the sweep rider will be: A sweep rider is the person who rides in the back of the group and makes sure everybody in the formation arrives safely. At the meeting, make sure everyone has the sweep rider’s cellphone number.
How many people will be joining: When group riding in Colorado, it’s required that the group doesn’t interfere with traffic; for this reason, smaller groups are typically better than larger groups. The larger the group, the more it will interfere with traffic and cause issues for cars to pass. There’s also a higher probability for separation because it’s hard to get everyone in the group through a green light. The ideal size for a group ride tends to be no more than five to seven people.
The skill levels of the riders in the group: Determine up front who the beginners in the group are; they should be located at the front of the group, closest to the leader. The more experienced riders can watch the beginners to make sure they’re safe and stay within the group.
What route will be taken: Make sure everyone is on the same page about the route, because this ensures that people will all end up in the same place safely. This reduces the need for riders to unsafely try to keep up with the rest of the group in fear of getting lost or left behind. Everyone can meet together at the end.
Where the regrouping place will be: If the group does become separated, another option is to mark a specific place on the route map indicating where a regrouping stop will be located. This can be for those who do become separated from the group or a designated rest stop to drink water and take a break during longer rides.
Before embarking on your group riding journey, everyone’s equipment should be inspected to ensure it is ready to go. Make sure everyone’s gas tanks are full and use the “Three-Minute Check (T-CLOCS)” method provided by the American Motorcyclist Association. This includes checking “tires, controls, lights, oil, chassis and the sidestand.”
As stated above, the first part of organizing your riding formation is to make sure the leader is in the front, the beginner riders in the middle, followed by the more experienced riders, and the sweep rider in the back of the group. It’s important to stay close together so you don’t take up the entire road, but there needs to be at least a “two-second cushion” in front and behind of each rider. Never ride directly side by side, in case one of the riders needs to avoid another car or debris.
The Colorado Motorcycle Operator’s Handbook recommends group riding in a staggered formation. This means the leader rides on the left side of the lane, with the second rider implementing the “two-second cushion” while riding on the right side of the lane. The handbook also states that riders should only move into a single file formation when “taking curves, making turns or entering or leaving a highway.”
While riding in the staggered formation, it’s important for everyone to check on the other riders in the group by using side-view mirrors. This is to make sure everyone is keeping up with the leader and indicates whether or not the group needs to slow down to let others catch up. It’s important that everyone in your group is aware of the signals that will be used while cruising. Some examples of common hand signals used in a group ride include indicating when to stop, riding single file or double file, speeding up, slowing down, or taking a refreshment stop, to name a few. You can find examples of these hand signals and others on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website.