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  • Why I/We Choose to Ride Alone.

    Yesterday reminded me why I prefer to ride alone or just with my wife. I was invited by a friend join in a bi-annual ride with a group of people he is associated with. It was going to be an all day affair logging in approx 350 miles. The ride was from NH to VT and back. It was going to be hot, 93 degrees plus. My wife won't ride in that heat so it was just me.

    Anyway, I meet up with the group early morning. It was a mix of about riders all ages, some riding solo and a few others 2 up. It was a mixed bag of about 40 bikes. American and British and metric, from rice burners to adventure to cruisers and full baggers. Me with my Indian Roadmaster.

    The ride got underway and I could see almost immediately that this was a loose group of riders. From what I understood, there are a few regulars in the group and several of the rest were newbies to the group. Instead of all riding staggered, the riders were all over the place. Some passing others etc. OK, so a few quirks but still doing OK until we hit the outer edge of town. From there on in, for most of the riders, it turned into wide open throttle ride. I mean 80-90mph on 2 lane winding roads through the hills. Passing cars over double yellow lines where the oncoming traffic had to ride in the breakdown lane, literally blowing through stop signs etc. You could see that the group wasn't even close to being together as we were in pockets of 3 - 5 bikes with cars separating us. At least half of the group wasn't even in eyesight. I stuck with a few others at the back of the group but even that was beyond my comfort zone.

    A few of us were entering a sweeping left hand turn at around 70 mph in staggered position that started getting tighter and tighter. I was on the inside. The guy in front of me riding outside suddenly cut from the white line over to the yellow line directly in front of me. Just as I was going to slide over to the right when he put his brakes on. Holy Crap! I was going to run into him. So I jerked my bike to the right. When I did, the momentum carried me onto the soft shoulder. The bike didn't want to stay there. I managed to scrape off a lot of speed before I finally went off and guided the bike in between a stone wall and telephone pole until I finally stopped in tall grass just before a wood horse fence. I gotta say, a Roadmaster is a pretty heavy bike to maneuver, let alone at that kind of speed in that kind of situation. I do commend the ABS brakes. I have no doubt that without them, the situation would have been much different.

    Of course, the few guys behind me stopped. I don't know whose adrenaline was up higher, me or the guys watching me go off the road. It took like 20 minutes for anyone that was in front of us to turn around and come back. The front runners never came back. They had no idea what happened until later in the day when the group ( minus me) told them. The guy that cut me off was one of the guys that came back. He had no idea he cut me off until some guys told him. He said he didn't see me. All I got from him was "Sorry".

    That was it for me. I gladly turned back and once the nerves settled down, I had a great ride home. I actually saw all kinds of sights I didn't have a chance to notice on the ride out.
    When I got home, my wife asked why I was home so early. Good thing it was hot as I told her it was too hot to ride.

    So today, all is good, thankfully. I love riding solo and really love riding 2up with my bride and that's where I intend to keep it from now on.

  • #2
    Glad to hear that you are OK and didn't hurt yourself or the bike.

    Comment


    • #3
      That's a scary story. I typically ride alone as well. Mostly due to the fact most of my rides are last minute ideas and no time to line up anyone else to ride along.

      Until recently the largest group I ever rode was when I went to Eureka Springs M&G in 2019 and 2020. I have to say that was a fun ride. Thad leads us and makes sure we stay together as a group. It made me want to find some other riders locally to ride with as the camaraderie at rest stops is fun as well.

      A couple weeks ago there was a memorial ride in the name of a kid who died a few years back. The kid was friends with my kids and the dad had coached both my kids. So I was all excited that I could finally attend one of the rides. It didn't take long to figure out this might not be to my liking. As we were leaving one of the riders pulled into the middle of main street (small town) to stop traffic and proceeds to dump his bike in the street. A couple guys waiting to pull out run to help him get his new Street Glide back shiny side up. During the ride some of the riders would speed up and get pretty close and then back off leaving a distance....rinse and repeat. While this didn't bother me too much I took notice. The first town we rode through one of the guys on a Sportster was backing off and hammering the throttle. I presume to try a wheelie. Unsuccessful but still made me shake my head. A few blocks later one of the front riders decided to rev and dump the clutch crossing the painted crosswalk using the slick surface to do a rolling burnout. Again..not impressed but whatever.

      As we neared our first stopping point we made a left turn onto another 2 lane. The leaders hammered down so I followed suit. I was riding left lane in the stagger. All of a sudden two bikers from behind blew past on both my left and right. Thankfully I was maintaining good lane position but it still scared the crap out of me. As we arrived at the first stop at 10:30 in the morning they all piled into the bar and started getting beers and bloody mary's. I decided I wasn't thrilled with the riding style and adding alcohol wasn't going to improve the situation. I decided to saddle up and go off on my own. I put on a couple hundred solo miles after I left them. Managed to get home before getting wet (I heard they got drenched on the ride) and was all the happier for it.

      Like I said, I'd like to ride with others from time to time. But I want to ride with those who are predictable and ride in a careful manner. We have enough things stacked against us on two wheels. We don't need our fellow riders to be one of those obstacles.

      Comment


      • #4
        I ride frequently with three or four motorcycle Meetup groups in my area. We rarely have poorly skilled Riders. Each leader always starts each ride with a safety meeting, explaining the rules of group riding, our route and where we will stop for fuel and breaks. Poor Riders are usually weeded out by peer pressure. I never ride on benefit rides or large annual events. My feeling is that a lot of these attendees are just posers and rarely ride just for the sake of riding. Sounds like your group was a bunch of idiots. I would not let that discourage you and I would encourage you to search for Meetup motorcycle groups in your area. They are not clubs just groups that like to ride. I've developed some great friendships through these groups and have buddies that I can also go out with in small groups.

        Comment


        • #5
          Interesting, I presume the really fast bikes were sport type bikes. We may ride kind of fast at times but we keep the groups small. Even with 7 bikes last week end the leader would take off and we would end up scattered. (He was a sport biker on a cruiser) I just hang back and keep an eye on them and if I lose them then I'm on a solo ride.

          On memorial day a large mixed group went out and ended up with 9 bikes down. Even though they had agreed to keep the speeds down the cruiser bikes said when the sport bikes saw the corners they went rabid. No serious injuries, One of the trailing bikes went wide and ran off a very steep embankment, Trailing bike stopped to check on him then continued on, couple of corners later came apon a pile of 5 bikes, one went down and the others couldn't avoid him in the melee. He pulled over to the side and was going to check on them when another bike came around the corner and went wide rear ending him, then up in the lead a bike lost traction and slid off the road. No broken bones but some road rash for sure as I talked to several of the participants a couple days later.. The cruisers said when they saw the start they didn't even follow, they turned around at the bottom of the hill and headed home.
          It's not that life is so short, it's just that you're dead for so long.---unknown.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have only ridden with one other rider only one time ever. It was about the best 8 miles ( from work town to home town ) I remember riding. It was great fun. I am seriously thinking of attending a meet and greet but I don't have any experience riding in a group. I'm 65 so I'm not sure that I can be taught anything anymore...but I would be willing to try. I have never taken a safety course but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express!
            With enough beer you can do anything...D.Pate

            Comment


            • MikeyC
              MikeyC commented
              Editing a comment
              We haven't lost a bike yet at any of our meet and greets (knock on wood) But we do split them up, faster bikes up front and slower in the rear. Forward group stops once in awhile to let the slower bikes catch up. Big thing is never try to keep up, ride your own ride and be safe, nobody will fault you for it.

            • Brad_G
              Brad_G commented
              Editing a comment
              Great points to bring up MikeyC. There's no shame in not taking the corners as hot as some of the other riders. Respecting your skills (or lack of) is important to understand. At the end of the day we all want to arrive back safely and talk about our ride.

            • DEEPHATE
              DEEPHATE commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, thank you. I did a little studying on group riding. I think I would be one of the slower guys and it sounds like most group rides are well organized with a pre-ride meeting and assigned leaders and sweeps.

          • #7
            I've rode with a facebook group of riders a few times. The first time consisted of about 6 of us. The last 3 times have been 30+ bikes. We only do back roads for the most part and the leader keeps us at a decent pace. Not too fast and not too slow. It's a mix of bike styles, ages, and abilities. The ride i did with them on Saturday seemed to have a lot of new riders who didn't grasp the concept of staggered riding. People would also get too comfortable at red lights and be slow to take off leaving some stuck at the next red. The group leader would recognize this and find a safe place to pull over and wait for the rest. The was one dummy doing wheelies but he had enough sense to fall to the back and do them. All in all, there's some improvements for the next ride but it starts with the leader and expectations set from the start. I've never done a big benefit or memorial ride but I'm sure i'll do at least one.

            Of the big group, smaller groups form with people who get to know each other and feel comfortable riding together. They'll do their own thing on other occasions.

            Comment


            • MikeyC
              MikeyC commented
              Editing a comment
              Thats how I've met several riding buddys, big groups where a couple of us continue to ride together.

          • #8
            Christmas Tri-CountyToy Run, 1989. That was my last big pack ride. I'm all for toys to needy kids but it aint worth dying for. This was a yearly event, usually over 100 bikes. I remember when I was working at Armadillo Bike and Chrome, this old guy would bring his 1947 Knucklehead in every November to get it ready for the toy run. That was the only time he rode it, once a year. He was the epitome of the toy run attendee. Low or no road skills, half drunk with no business being on 2 wheels.

            I have a couple friends back in Texas, we logged a lot of miles together. 3-4 guys with some skills and familiarity between them, that can make for a fun ride. But the big pack thing, not since and never again.

            Comment


            • MikeyC
              MikeyC commented
              Editing a comment
              Much agreed

          • #9
            I'm really comfy with a couple of close buddys, larger groups I have to kind of feel things out.
            It's not that life is so short, it's just that you're dead for so long.---unknown.

            Comment


            • #10
              We have one Meetup Group in our area that posts this information on every ride that they hold.

              RIDERS:
              • PLEASE BE ON TIME. If you are late, please communicate with the host via text or call.

              • Please help the host plan the ride by asking questions

              • If you need to cancel, let the host know by calling/texting

              • Motorcycle Insurance is now mandatory in Washington State. By RSVPing for this ride, you are assuming responsibility for yourself and any guests you bring and hold the group organizers, host and Meetup.com harmless for any liability.

              • Make a back-up plan for returning from the event in case your ride breaks down or a rider is injured. Please post your cell phone and use text messages / phone calls to communicate.

              SAFETY:
              • EACH MEMBER is responsible for their own safety

              • Motorcycle riding is a dangerous activity and can result in death or serious injury

              • Know your skill level and be realistic. If you are uncertain, ASK QUESTIONS to more experienced Members before departure.

              • No show-boating, wheelies, burn-outs or other reckless riding. If a member does this, please report it immediately to the event host or one of the organizers. Stupidity is one of the main reasons people get hurt!

              • Drinking & riding don't mix! If you're breaking bread with the group, limit your alcohol consumption to legal limits or below! While alcohol "gladdens the heart of man", don't make it your re-hydration method or meals! You won't be very glad if you cause an accident or get a DUI!!

              • Safety gear & clothing is always recommended. Bring layers in case the weather is too cool or too warm. Ride safe and responsibly!

              Comment


              • #11
                im glad you’re okay and the bike came through without a scratch....

                My 1st real group ride was last year at NWStarfest, I’ve ridden with a couple of buddies here and there but nothing over 3-4 bikes. So I was a bit nervous being in the bigger group but it was really well led and everyone was always looking out for one another. Faster riders up front was good as I was riding 2 up with the wife I stayed in the middle of the pack. If it would’ve been just me I would’ve been in the front group. Can’t wait for NW Starfest this year....


                Comment


                • #12
                  Grubsie glad you and your bike is stil in good shape. I was lucky and have ridden in big organized tame groups.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    The last large group ride I was on was a Toys for Tots Christmas run, sponsored by the Modified Motorcycle Association in San Diego, back in the late '70s. I remember that I spent so much time watching out for the other riders that I couldn't enjoy the ride-i just wanted to get to the final destination. . The next run that I undertook was when three of us members of the forum rode down to Katy, Tx. for a meet-and-greet. The other two bikes were better tuned than mine, and the riders were more experienced in riding in a group, so I ended up being a drag on their progress. After that, I've only ridden with a friend of mine a few times before he decided not to risk getting injured by riding, since he is self-employed.
                    My observations of recent group rides that I have encountered is that there are too many undisciplined riders out there for me to be comfortable riding with them, hence my solo tours (which now, due to medical considerations, must be reconsidered.
                    I would imagine you almost would have had to return home for a skivvy change after your close call!

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Appreciate the concern guys.

                      Woke up a little stiff this morning. Mostly in my shoulders and back. Felt fine all day yesterday.I even had a really great relaxing ride yesterday and felt great. Wonder if I bounced around a little more than I thought going off the road.

                      I have ridden in a few group rides over the years including a 3500 bike group ride for the Fallen 7, 2 summers ago. All these rides were very good rides. The so called "group" ride Sunday was anything but. The 2 lead guys were on HD Road Glides. They rode like absolute maniacs and it was up to everyone else to keep up, experience be damned. My buddy who was riding right up there with the crazies called me last night to see how I was doing and told me that most of the guys backed off for the remainder of the ride to the destination and then on the ride back. I gave him a ration of shit for the ride. I mean free for all. I told him never again and not to call me for any type of ride even if it's just me and him. He understood and agreed.

                      I'm way too old for this crap. I'm just gonna ride out my remaining years with as little drama as possible.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        A key rule when we ride is ride your own ride and don't try to keep up if it pushes you beyond your comfort zone. We will not leave you behind. Our leaders never turn left or right until the entire group is present. Never turn right or left unless you can see the guy behind you.

                        Comment


                        • #16
                          To each his/her own. For me, riding doesn't have a social aspect and I'm perfectly content riding solo or with my wife on back. My main takeaways from this thread are that if you are going to ride with a group: 1) make sure you know them and their riding habits before starting and 2) if you failed to follow #1, bail on the group the instant things don't feel right. You might make someone mad, but that beats ending up in the hospital because you're riding with a bunch of reckless (not wreckless) meatheads. Be careful out there.

                          Comment


                          • #17
                            Also glad to hear you're OK..........Me I'm a solo rider also and I keep to the NW Upper Valley area backroads mostly as NM is a stones away and some nice country riding. At 66+ I'm about enjoying the cruise and getting there and back in one peace since like most I have gone down once on I-10 in rush hour traffic after a cager cut me off and booked it. For the life of me I don't know why the 18 wheeler or traffic behind me didn't turn me into road kill mash, this was about 10 years ago and some of you long term members might remember as I received a new front master cylinder for the asking. I have twice riden in the past with a small group of former coworkers to the Ruidoso Rallies which went well but I cruised from behind while having the others backs as couple them HDs had to lead the way with only taillight in view Worked well as one of the gals pulled off out of gas but I quickly showed her the RESERVE position which enabled her to reach the Chevron station entering Alamogordo. Received plenty of " thank you's " the rest of the run......

                            Comment


                            • #18
                              NOBODY, nobody, i repeat, nobody rides as safe as me. so I dont do group rides. except bikeweek, we do 2, 3, or 4s with strict rules. I CANT BELIEVE THEY STILL MAKE COPS RIDE SIDE BY SIDE IN ONE LANE. newsflash, its not safe. i liken group riding to lemmings off a cliff, following the leader( It is not a deliberate mass suicide, in which animals voluntarily choose to die, but rather a result of their migratory behavior. Driven by strong biological urges, some species of lemmings may migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great. They can swim and may choose to cross a body of water in search of a new habitat. In such cases, many drown if the chosen body of water happens to be an ocean, or is in any case so wide as to exceed their physical capabilities.

                              Comment


                              • #19
                                Whew, glad you came through! I started riding about 13 years ago, and after a few solo excursions, took the opportunity to join a big group ride. I couldn't believe how many bikes showed up, we're talking 100's. I think it was a Toys for Tots run, don't recall. For the most part, things went very smooth, a couple of bikes weaving a bit, just enough to keep your eyes open and cheeks clinched. After that, I took part in a few more big runs for breast cancer, toys, individuals who needed support, with my wife (a lifetime biker and riding mentor) along on her Sportster. It's a cool experience to be a part of a supportive minded group, but I think I'm done. We live less than 30 miles from ground zero during Myrtle Beach Bike Weeks and they have really turned me off - wanna get hurt or jeopardize your property , be my guest - I'm out. My favorite rides, the ones that really live in me, are rural solo days with a paper map and a compass (remember those?). That to me is riding.

                                Comment


                                • #20
                                  There's a big difference between an advertised, organized large benefit ride or clubs and those organized by smaller riding groups like what you would find on Meetup. Meetup groups are generally comprised of people who just like to ride and I have found they are generally very experienced. They tend to ride back roads that provide lots of scenic stimulation versus riding to a specific location via the slab. I'm a big advocate of these groups and would encourage all of you to see what's available in your area. Just search for "Meetup motorcycle". You don't have to join right away, you can just monitor their rides and comments to get a feel as to if the group would match your needs.

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