Jan 18, 2007

Motorcycling in groups

As far as I can remember, I've been afraid of riding a motorcycle as part of a groups. I've been a member of a number of online motorcycle groups and never once, did I feel the urge to go for one of the numerous group rides. Anti social? Me? Hardly.

But everytime I have gone out for a ride with other people, they're riders I know. I know a bit about the their skill levels, I have a clue about their reaction times, I have an inkling about how they like to ride (I'd go on but you get the drift, I think). This makes me comfortable. It also tells me whether I fit in or not. If I don't, I don't continue.

There have only been two rides I did actually join up on. The first was an impromptu RD club ride from somewhere in Andheri East to a food place (amazingly, most urban rides go to food places. But I guess I should just be thankful they go to eat places, as opposed to drink places). One chap dragged along a friend on a Bajaj Eliminator. This poor sod was stuck with a 14 bhp cruiser in a sea of 20+ bhp street bikes of a fair reputation. And decided to prove just how great a rider he was by riding the most amazing ride I have ever seen. If I had a video recording (and I wish I did), it would be the greatest addition to this blog ever. In a fifteen minute vid, I'd demonstrate with a grating voiceover every single thing you should not be doing on public roads. And a few things you shouldn't even try at a race track!

The other time, I rode with a gang (crew or group would be too polite) up to the outskirts of Bombay. By which point they had amply demonstrated their utter lack of coordination, skill, competence and the instinct for self preservation. Hence, I dutifully turned the handlebar, made a smart U-turn and without as much as a second look, bade goodbye.

What I am saying is that it is currently in vogue to go riding with groups. But the risks are very high. So be careful, and it you get uncomfortable, either ride your own ride (slower or faster) or just leave the group. Flaming on email is a hell of a lot less risky than a flaming bike (or two) on the highway at the end of a fifty foot skid mark.

Which is not to say that riding in groups can't be fun. When I'm out riding with the group I normally ride with, there isn't a single thing in the world I'd rather be doing.

Photo borrowed from here. Do check it out, it's a very comprehensive site. Also check out msgroup.org which has a bunch of group riding tips and a PDF document James R Davis would be happy to mail to you.


Hrishikesh said...

You could safely try to go for a ride with BikeNomads. If i read ur preferences right, u will enjoy that ride...

Archeriostichaos said...

So true! I have the same set of principles for a group ride. Knowing the other rider's riding habbits is necessary, specially when you are corner carving in Uttaranchal or Himachal.


Glifford said...

As Hrishi said,

There are several groups that are more organised than the ones you have mentioned. Many which follow the rules like religion. Have stuff like:

1. Lead and sweep... those who manage everyone in between (and obviously set the pace).

2. No riding without minimum safety gear for ALL riders AND pillions like helmets, shoes, jackets and gloves.

3. Riding with headlights on... and many more.

When you ride in a well behaved group you don't get the wrath of those you pass by. Infact it is often admiration :) People and kids waving at you. Village kids amazed at seeing so many bikes ride past (often waving back). You can see them amazed at the headlights all switched on and later using their new found counting skills to count the number of bikes in the group.

It sure is a nice feeling! And not a menace!