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Ride To Southport As A Group

Blog Date - 16 April 2012

The stars aligned again yesterday to provide a dry and sunny Sunday.  I’ve recently joined a bike club, “Swan Two Wheels” and a large group of them had planned a big rideout, which is nice but it clashed with the very important Formula One Chinese race.  BUT…another member suggested that those on smaller bikes or who couldn’t make the big rideout may wish to make a shorter trip.  That sounded a bit more like it. 

So after the F1 the gf and I hopped onto the bike and made our way to Hindley.  We were eventually joined by 2 ladies on 125’s and 2 larger bikes, that made 5 in total.  A route was agreed to Southport and we set off.  Of course in the first few hundred yards we were all separated by traffic.

Trying to ride together as a group is hard work.  We all have to follow the rules of the road and these rules are not at all designed to keep a group together.  2 may get through the lights, 3 may not.  4 may get through the junction but the 5th rider may not.  In any town and even out in the country it is inevitable that a group will get split up.  That’s OK but of course not everyone knows where we are going and people get lost.

Bikes do lend themselves a little to group riding.  The narrow size and manoeuvrability mean we can stop by the roadside and wait for our travelling companions to catch up.  Quite often though even with our narrow size it’s not safe to stop on corners and busy main roads.  There’s lots of slow riding, waving cars to come past and short halts in side roads or lay-by’s. 

I was leading.  I know the way.  Also one chap was riding with his wife on a 125, the other 125 rider was riding with her mother on a 1500!  They were “paired up” so to speak.  It’s been a long time but I am very experienced at leading groups.  I was a motorcycle instructor for 5 years, but that was 12 years ago and I’ve ridden with bike clubs for years, but again that was over 10 years ago.  I’d forgotten how much energy and concentration is required to lead a group.

The effort comes from riding for 5 people.  Not only do I need to ride safely for myself, but I have to try and judge what everyone else is doing or can do at the next junction.  Will I make those lights, will the rest of them get through, when I’m through did the rest of them make it, if not where can I safely stop.  It’s like that for every junction of any description.  Even on the straights how fast can I go?  Too slow and there’s a risk of other traffic getting frustrated and making dangerous moves, too fast and others may not keep up.

The ride to Southport was a success.  We had a good ride and out in the countryside the work of staying together was much easier.  Although the air was cold the sun shone down upon our righteous group.  The views over Parbold Hill across the flatlands behind Southport were amazing.  The Carousel was busy, McDonalds provided the food and toilets and the gf bought some donuts. 

I had a really good day out in good company.  I did not notice the energy required to ride in the group till I got home later.  I was absolutely knackered!  I was disorientated and bewildered.  Still it was worth the effort.

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Reader's Comments

John Almond said :-
It was good to have you both along on that little bimble Ren.
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