Looking along a long straight road amidst lush green farmland

Home Ren's Biking Blog

Group Riding

Blog Date - 17 December 2020

Let me make one thing clear from the start. I enjoy group riding. I know several of the regulars here don't but I enjoy the meeting up with friends, riding with them and then stopping for a chat over a hot brew and a bacon butty. It is a simple pleasure, one which has been mostly denied this year.

However if you've never experienced a group ride let me make one thing clear. It is NOT all fun and laughter and hanging out with your pals. It can be hard work and if not done correctly, dangerous.

First off there's the initial meet-up. "We'll all meet at The Crown, that pub on London Road, at 1100. Be sure to fill up BEFORE you arrive..." One or two will be there at 1030, fully fuelled, motorcycle and kit present and correct and keen to be off. Most will arrive around the 1100 mark but there'll always be that one, the same one, who sends confusing text messages telling everyone they'll be there soon, very soon. They'll arrive at 1130 while everyone else is getting more and more agitated.

While waiting for the tardy individual 2 others who were totally up for it and excited to ride will call to say they're not coming due to some lame excuse. You can increase this number dependant upon the weather conditions, the worse the weather, the lamer the excuses and the less people will turn up. I've been expecting 10 riders and been left with just 2 on such wintry, wet and windy days.

Heavy rain as riders meet up for a ride
You can't do anything about the weather.

Within the first 5 to 10 minutes someone will need fuel, usually the same person who was late. The leader will be left pondering where the next fuel stop is. Surprisingly several riders will also fill up, "just in case".

A morrison's petrol station and a motorcycle
...there's always ONE!... and then some more.

Once on the road the real problems start. Even with the best, most skilled, experienced and safe riders it is absolutely INEVITABLE that the group will get broken up. Traffic lights change to red when half the group is through. A line of cars comes through the junction so 2 riders are left behind. This is where the shenanigans start.

If the leader has spotted the "chop" they can slow or stop to allow the rest to catch up. But where? This road is busy with no safe verges in which to wait. Plus there's another right turn ahead, will the rest of them know we've turned? Some members of the "chopped" group will ride like morons in an effort to catch up, screaming by cars and trucks on blind bends. Others will hold back safely, eyes darting into side roads in an effort to see where the group has gone next. 

If the leader can stop safely, then what? Do you set off when you see the "chopped" group catching up or do you wait until the rest to park behind you? Some will blast into the traffic causing other road users to swerve, others will wait for a gap so large it'll be midnight before the group starts to move as one again.

I've experimented with several systems. "Drop off" is where the rider behind the lead is left at the junction. The rest of the group spots the "dropped off" rider and follows their direction. The "dropped off" rider waits until the allocated back marker arrives then rejoins the group. As such at each junction there should be a rider indicating the next direction.

Yeah. Great. Where do you leave the "dropped off" rider on a BIG roundabout? What about narrow junctions where there's nowhere safe to stop and direct? Motorway junctions? I've been sat on the bike at the roadside waiting to guide other riders and had some terrifying near misses. It works in principle, in practice it's dangerous. Also some riders tend to forget who the back marker is or don't bother to wait long enough.

The best system is "we're going here next..." If, IF you can stick together then great. If not don't worry just keep going to the next agreed destination. This works for fast riders who can rip off into the distance, slow riders who can gently make their own pace to the stop and all skills and styles inbetween. In these days of sat-nav and mobile phones this is much more practical.

Otherwise I'd suggest a maximum group size of 4, yes 4, particularly if you have towns and junctions a-plenty on your route. Even then keeping 4 riders together can be challenging. If your group is cohesive, if you can trust the riders around you, if you are all experienced in group riding and your route of choice is mostly countryside with few junctions then maybe 8, on a good day.

You could of course join a much larger ride-out. Professionally organised events with police support can be fun as 100 or even 1,000 riders all make their way along the road. The police can block junctions and even stop traffic at traffic lights to allow the group through. It's great riding through red lights completely legally with police support. 

A large group of riders wait on the road during an organised event
With police support the Leyland Carnival welcomed the bikers.
Thousands of riders and motorcycles at Manchester's Ring of Red
With police support several thousand riders can get together. Manchester's Ring of Red.

Again this is not without pitfalls. The group will usually be moving slowly, 5, 10 maybe 15mph most of the time through town, not much more out on the open road. Despite the police presence there'll be some muppets who want to show off by pulling a wheelie in the middle of the pack. Others will be distracted by waving to friends while running into the back of the bike in front. 

Beware the quasi-organised runs. These tend not to have police support, instead they have over enthusiastic marshals in high viz jackets riding BMW/Pan Euros fitted with flashing orange lights. They will stop the traffic and usher you through red lights illegally as you prey that street cameras can't see your number plate among all the others. 

Speaking of the law. If you're leading a group you are somehow "responsible" for that group. The general gist is that if you're riding quickly this can cause the other riders in the group to also ride quickly. If they break any laws in so doing, or injure themselves or others, you can also be held accountable. I'm not a lawyer and I don't fully grasp all the implications but, well, YIKES! Check out this MCN link for an example.

If you came to me for advice regarding group riding as a novice? You and a trustworthy friend with some experience, that's all. I'd advise against larger rideouts until you've got some experience on two wheels. As an experienced rider I'd suggest very small groups unless it's a professionally organised event with actual bona-fide police support. If you have a large group I'd stick with the "here's the next stop" method. 

When Sharon and I did the NC500 in 2017 the largish group tended to naturally form into small groups. We all knew where we were heading for that evening and the remote, mostly junction free preset route made for very simple navigation. This worked well, but those were exceptional circumstances.

A line of motorcycles in front of various tents on the campsite in Ullapool
Loose organisation and remote roads can make for a great group ride and holiday.

If you'd like to sponsor Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

John Scotcher said :-
When myself and friends meet up, everyone agrees where the next stop will be so if the group is separated, they know (or should I say, they should hopefuuly know) where riders will be stopping. Unfortunately, some riders have to be accommodated as they would probably get lost going to their local shops!
18/12/2020 15:46:35 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Don't like it Ed, although I don't mind dropping in behind other riders I don't know whilst on a ride. It's a pleasant enough way to pass a few miles, unless of course you can see they feel nervous about being followed in which case I breeze by.
Obviously when I used to ride for a living we would ride in convoy for a large proportion of the day, either in two's or in larger groups if travelling to and from events, football matches etc. If on a motorway we would probably ride two a breast and two deep in a square format. It was just to fly the flag and look professional I suppose. Kept you switched on for sure but you knew others riding styles inside out so you knew what to expect.
The problem with riding with mates (?) is you can't account for stupid. Or just the different riding styles of each and every rider. I have ridden in mixed groups of service riders and civi's and the civi's hadn't got a clue why we were placing our bikes in advanced positions for potential manoeuvres and it just made them nervous and kind of spoiled the ride. We weren't trying to be smart arses but we could find ourselves on the offside kerb looking for the overtake whilst they were doing the same in the nearside gutter.
I like riding with the pillion and not with other bikes unless as described above and I certainly would not encourage civi's to drop off at junctions or you could find your before his Honour. Can you imagine the civil court claim against yourself if they were injured or worse.
18/12/2020 19:07:39 UTC
Bogger said :-
When riding for pleasure I'm nearly always in a group. Usually the same group of people and we all know how each other ride.
On the tiddlers we all stay close together. When on the bigger bikes we give ourselves plenty of room.
On the foreign jaunts, we are on the smaller bike, 125cc and under. We have found through trial and error that the ideal group size is five or at most six riders.
Any more is a nightmare. It's either too fast, or usually to slow and not making enough progress. Then factor in drink breaks, fuel breaks, pee breaks, fag breaks etc etc. Getting anywhere is a real headache.
As it's usually the same lads that go abroad we have a definitive riding order. This was not discussed or agreed upon it just transpired and that's what we stick with. Yes we have the odd race at 50mph to break up the boredom or streamline one another up a hill to gain an advantage but generally stick with what we know and are comfortable with.
If I'm riding on my own, To make things a bit more interesting, I'll give myself an average speed for the journey and try to attain it. Harder than you think.

Bogger...living life on the edge
18/12/2020 20:58:15 UTC
Jim said :-
We made the mistake of joining up with a Facebook-organised mass ride and it’s put me right off. 50 odd bikes riding from the Milk Bar at Powmill to the Kingshouse Hotel in Glencoe sounded like a good idea, but it was anything but. So me and TI, ink hardly dry on the licence set off close to the rear of the bunch, quickly found ourselves having to do silly speeds in order to keep up. Wet leaves and mud were everywhere, and by the time we got to Kenmore I was ready to go turn and go home. I spoke to the ride leader and he assured me that the next section was to be much slower.

Indeed it was, as we headed up Glen Lyon and across to Lawers Dam in the middle of the pack behind an old boy on a new Speedmaster. All good so far, until he got overexcited on a bend, dug his pegs in and ended up in a field. Once we’d sorted it out half the pack were long gone and somehow I ended up leading the rest up and over a very high single track road with gravel all over it. Point being that I felt a ridiculous pressure to keep the pace up, whereas I would have been much happier to creep along at 25mph.

Got back down to Killin without incident and decided that enough was enough. So we just made our way to Glencoe without the rest.

So all in all, rather like Upt’, I’m very content to ride two up at a pace that suits me. If we do ride with others, we just agree on the next stop, ensure we all know the way, and meet there. If we occupy the same bit of road en-route it’s a happy co-incidence, but not essential.
18/12/2020 21:32:52 UTC
nab301 said :-
I've done plenty of group rides out in the distant past but just found them stressful . Generally I ended up waiting for the whole thing to depart and would potter along at the back within the speed limit , but even then, watching the ridiculous antics from behind became too much for me ...
I finally stopped attending such events when I involuntarily ended up leading the homeward leg of one such gathering , I had taken the road less travelled which was not the intended route , but despite making my intentions clear before leaving, unknown to me a large group followed me . There was an acquaintance of mine on a Varadero stuck to my number plate for a few miles who then signalled to me to stop , on doing so he said " we've lost the group" Eh? So we turned back to find a Gixer rider ( another acquaintance) had ridden his bike into a ditch . I was riding an Enfield Bullet 350 that day , so I'm assuming it was boredom rather than speed that caused that little off! On another earlier occasion I ended up leading a group of lets say "senior" riders home , again on my ( less then 12 bhp Enfield) only to get calls for a week afterwards from disgruntled old men who felt I had ruined their day by riding at excessive speed , the bike would barely do 50mph flat out , I wasn't riding flat out and they were all on more powerful bikes.
I've done plenty of second man drop off rides out with the REOC and these work well on quiet country roads where the last man always has a different/ contrasting hi viz jacket from everyone else, although I can't imagine doing such a ride out where motorways are involved!

18/12/2020 21:46:28 UTC
Bogger said :-
I've been out on a few madly fast rides with a group. Luckily no one died or indeed came off. But the speeds at times were ridiculous. I was on my Fazer600 at the time and I was right on the limit of performance, handling and most definitely rider skill. I only went out with that group twice. It was just plain stupid.
Each time I got home I was mentally and physically drained. Nah not for me thanks.

18/12/2020 22:05:23 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I've both enjoyed and endured some group rides, much akin to those you all describe.

With "civis" as Upt' puts it you'll find huge variations in skills, riding style, desires and motorcycles. The poser on the GSXR RR RRRRRRR to the newbie on the dilapidated CG125. The 500 miles is nothing rider to the my ass is sore after 20 miles type. The laid back motorway cruiser to the gnarly off roader. You can't mix such variations and please everyone.

Sharon and I ride together. We do have one advantage though - she's been riding with me right from the start of her two wheeled journey. As such, for better and for worse, her style has inevitably become similar to my own. We've also covered the best part of 50,000 miles together so we're familiar with each other's ways. We try to keep to the speed limits, we don't rush junctions and we only choose to "press on" when both our moods and roads are suitable. And yet there are things I do that winds Sharon up. I'm far too laid back on motorways, Sharon would go faster.
19/12/2020 11:53:23 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I hate riding in groups - but then I'm known as a curmudgeon.

Many years ago I had a phone call - it was Suzi Perry - you know, the one who is on the telly at the TT and stuff. No idea where she got my number but she invited me on a charity ride out with a number of then-celebrated riders like Steve Nation. I decided against my better judgment to attend - it was up in Cheshire somewhere.

When I arrived there were probably a couple of hundred riders there, including Nation on a Norton rotary race rep and several of his mates. We set off in an orderly gaggle but as soon as we were in open countryside the racers took off and shot past everyone in sight round blind bends, over hump backed bridges and all. That was bad enough but various of the "ordinary" riders tried to follow suit. I've rarely been so scared and left the pack after a few miles to make my own (sedate) way home wondering how many of the riders would spend the night (or longer) in hospital beds.

One problem with groups is that if the front rider makes an overtake, those following also tend to go for it. This means that the ones back down the line need to do silly speeds just to keep up.

We used to use the second man drop-off for the "Colonial" pre-65 trials run by the Midland Classic club but they were much more civilised affairs (apart from the sections themselves which could be quite dramatic). We even used to have a lunchtime pub stop - often needed as the trials were held midwinter and riding for hours through frozen mud does nothing much for your core temperature. Struggling back into frozen belstaffs afterwards wasn't much fun.
19/12/2020 11:53:26 UTC
Upt'North said :-
The fastest rider in any group ride is the last bod.
19/12/2020 13:39:14 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ed me lad, in these days of technological advancement surely there's kit out there to get around these hurdles. I still wouldn't personally want to be involved in group shenanigans or technology but there must be a way of dropping routes onto personal communication devices and then all could travel merrily to the agreed destination.
I'll give you that one Ed, you could be a millionaire this time next century.
My problem with "tech", is generally it's tiresome often unreliable. Sounds a bit like me.
Go on young Ed, dip ya bread.
19/12/2020 16:57:16 UTC
said :-
Upt'North said :-
The fastest rider in any group ride is the last bod.

That is a very true statement.

19/12/2020 20:37:03 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
There already is tech out there to share routes Upt'. GPX files seem quite common but not all devices (sat-navs and phones and the like) can use the files simply. It's the usual IT compatibility problems. I'm sure a digital wizard could install, update, translate and reformat a digital route for everyone but ain't no-one got time for that. There must be a way, hmmmm....

As you say too, tech ain't for everyone. While it is pretty common for folks to have a phone or nav mount there's still plenty out there who prefer the solid tactile reality of a real map. Mind you as I look out the window here the rain is tipping down, paper maps ain't fun in this weather.
21/12/2020 09:21:07 UTC
Upt'North said :-
The first point to make is I'm not a technophobe........well maybe a little.
That maybe comes from early home PC's that spent more time crashing than working.
I still hate turning on a new piece of IT.
But this is the frustration with technology, this sharing of files should be so easy. Yet, it most definitely isn't.
I do like a map, preferably dry and new.
21/12/2020 15:47:04 UTC
Bogger said :-
I quite like a map. But they are difficult to read whilst riding on a bike.
I did come up with a solution. Four years ago I coerced Mrs Bogger onto the back of the bike (BMW not the Cub) for a trip around Scotland to tour the NC500.
I didn't have a bike Sat Nav. Far too expensive. I did have a phone but no mount for the bike. Again, too expensive. So what to do then, as I didn't fancy getting Mrs Bogger Lost in the middle of nowhere.
Basically I got hold of a clear plastic credit card box, drilled two holes straight the way through at the upper and lower ends. Then cut a pencil in half. One half of the pencil through each hole. These were joined together on the outside of the placcy box with a couple of rubber bands.
Wrapped around the pencils on the dry inside of the box was a till roll onto which I could write my road map for the days riding.
So start the ride and keep scrolling the till roll as you go along. I surprised myself as it worked a treat. I didn't take one wrong turn.
It took about twenty minutes to write out the next days ride on the till roll whilst consulting the map.
Ed, you would have been proud of me. It cost nowt and was a proper cheapskate bodge that worked brilliantly. I even got a few compliments and knowing nods when we stopped and got chatting to people along the route.
I think they were compliments anyway.

21/12/2020 20:03:59 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
What you're talking about bogger is a simplified version of the image below? Home made too? And yes, I'm proper proud of you and you are my hero! Thing is with such a system, let us say you miss a turning then the scroll and instructions become defunct until you can re-find your route. One of the good things about modern digital navs is their ability to re-route quickly. This can be valuable when you're in town and the correct lane is not obvious, the roundabout exit is vague or there's several junctions close together.
Posted Image
22/12/2020 09:52:26 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I write the route out too Bogger and just slip it into the tank bag window.
It would go a bit like,
R J16 M6 A500 Stoke
15M L M6 S to J10
I can usually fit all of a long day's ride on one piece of paper.
Although I do carry ear pieces for the phone if all else fails.

22/12/2020 10:27:25 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
When I used to do the National Rally I did something similar but wrote out each leg between the checkpoints on index cards - one per leg. The pack was held together with a binder type clip and the whole lot in a plastic bag. I rigged up a light from an old speedo bulb holder. It worked fairly well. When I arrived at each checkpoint I just had to put the current card to the bottom of the pack.

I did once have something like that illustration but it was a cheap bit of rubbish and never worked properly.
22/12/2020 14:20:36 UTC
Henrik said :-
I do solo-rides, and so it will always be,.. I set the route, the time, speed, POI's, the brakes, the food

If I fell like making a unplanned stop, using two hours for a photo-session, or whatever, then I do :-)

Anything else would be terrible, and make no sense

22/12/2020 23:08:16 UTC
Pedro said :-
Group rides, not for me. During all my years of riding ,first bike 1972, there were only two mates I enjoyed riding with. We always rode with each other, not against each other. If we came to a slow moving line of traffic the front rider would work his way past without the other two feeling dragged along, because the other two knew he wouldn't disappear into the distance. After the other two had picked their way past at their own pace, the first one would be riding about hundred yards past the hold up leaving room for the others to re group behind him. If we were separated at lights, first one or two would continue until they found a safe place to pull over, and when the others approached, they always left room for them to re join in front. We rode together for hundreds of miles, and a few camping trips, and never one incident.
Once I was invited to join another two mates, and attempted to apply the same practice, and it didn't work. I was at the front, and came to long line of slow moving traffic. After picking my way past without any stupid risks, I settled about a hundred yards in front of the slow car driver who was holding everything up, and waited, and waited. Fearing the worst I pulled over, and after watching all the cars, which I had overtaken, drive past, they were still sitting there at the back. They pulled over and one of them began complaining that I had cleared off and left them. So I suggested he should take the lead. We soon caught up with the slow moving cars again, and there we sat mile after mile at 40 mph. It soon became clear he would never overtake anything.
Another time I arranged a ride out with others, and straight away one of them took off at about 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, and wondered why I didn't follow.
The two mates I enjoyed riding with don't ride any longer. so I will continue to enjoy riding alone at my own pace.
On the topic of navigation, I use a cheap phone holder, with a small piece of plastic clipped into it. I write directions on it with a fine tip marker pen. Its easily wiped clean with a drop of methylated spirit, and if it's raining, a piece of cling film can be placed over it. I still prefer written directions.
Posted Image
23/12/2020 11:12:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I think the little "whiteboard" is a smart idea Pedro, I might be stealing that, maybe not just for navigation either.

We are all quite different individuals and this is one reason group riding can be a nightmare. If you're lucky you might possibly find a few other folks who's desires, riding styles and pace is similar enough to your own to only frustrate you from time to time. Riding alone does have some considerable advantages too as has been pointed out. I suppose the main thing to be thankful for is that we all have that choice.
24/12/2020 08:52:00 UTC
Upt'North said :-
With regards the white board or even writing on the tank, a Peel Off Chinagraph Pencil works a treat and quickly wipes off with a bit of furniture polish.

24/12/2020 12:29:51 UTC
ian said :-
reading the article and comments i cannot help wonder whether it is more to do with the nature of bikers than group rides as such. in every group of people you get a variety of characteristics, the people who like bikes can be a little different to joe public to start off with, why do they like biking, some are loners others rather antisocial in one way or another and then are the nutters, the show offs, the reckless types. plus of course the bikes will be different, a range of performance and the riders skills will not be all at the same level, the personalities will be different too, some will be plodders and others mad fast types.
22/02/2021 14:27:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
ian - I agree. For some riding is about posing and showing off. There's the social riders who enjoy the company. There's novices and million mile hacks. With any group ride (and most things in life) you cannot please everyone, oft times it's hard to please anyone. On various group rides it's not uncommon for good friends to become aggressive and fall out because one rides too fast, the other too slow, one likes twisty lanes the other fast flowing A-roads. I've witnessed and been involved with several "heated debates" over the choice of route, riding styles and various attitudes.
22/02/2021 15:57:42 UTC
ian said :-
This is something that i've written that involves group riding, I hope some find it relevant/interesting. thanks for your previous reply ed.

Making progress is a key mantra for IAM/Roadsmart training, it means proceeding briskly and efficiently while maintaining your safety and that of others. It is something police officers are required to do so that they can get to emergencies without causing accidents in the process. This methodology has been translated into advanced training for civilian riders.
My initial reaction was to think, ‘this is just what I need’ as I was being tailgated and otherwise intimidated by large SUV/bulbous jeep type vehicles who often seemed in no mood to take prisoners. The process kicks off with a taster session, this works both ways, you find out a bit more about the course and it enables them to assess your riding.
Eventually, I get allocated an observer, their word for a tutor. The training takes place on a one-to-one basis, each session is a little over two hours with a break in the middle. The cost of the course is in the region of £160 but you end up paying nearly twice that as you must contribute to the observer’s fuel plus there are booklets they advise you buy.
The associate, or trainee, goes first following directions given by the observer behind via their indicators. This was a surprise as I thought instruction would be by radio link. On the good side, it makes you use your mirrors. I found it a strain as my old bike vibrates the mirrors and the observer’s big adventure bike had lights and indicators close together.
In parallel to the above I went on two ride outs on the advice of my observer, these are set at three levels. The beginner one was OK, but it quickly became obvious that my heavy 1980’s tourer, with shaft drive, wasn’t as nimble as the powerful modern racers and endure type machines ridden by the others in the group so I slowed the riders following after me.
After this the observer patiently encouraged me to take bends faster using various techniques and I improved as a result but not before a few occasions when I got it wrong and I was lucky not to have been injured. I have to say that this hardly felt that safety was the uppermost consideration no matter how much they said it was. More ‘do or die’ imo!
Then I was signed up for a level two ride out which, in retrospect, must have been mislabeled as it was way too fast for me. I tried to maintain position, but it was getting crazy and I, rightly or wrongly, felt the lead rider, in front of me, was riding rather recklessly through bends on their 150 bhp bike where, it seemed to me, impossible to see far ahead.
I wonder if attaining an advanced rider qualification does not feel like an immunity against misfortune. At another point on the second ride out the route flicked to a metaled farm road, raised about the fields it passed across. My bike started to oscillate, I had to slow as I was beginning to lose control, meanwhile the lead rider became a speck in the distance.
When I confronted the ride leader about the speed, we were going I was told that I should go at my own pace, I suppose the lead rider meant that they would wait up ahead. However, there is a pressure to keep up. When I mentioned the oscillation issue, I was told to get better shock absorbers, my bike had only just passed its MOT with no advisories.
Where does it leave me? well better off than I was although at the same time feeling both fed up and humiliated. Since then, I have watched a few programmes on TV where they follow events in A & E over a 24 hr period. Victims of motorcycle accidents crop up regularly. I need to find my own methods of staying out of trouble. Below is my best shot for the future.
No more group rides, avoid major points of congestion and to stick mainly to routes that I know, some of which are quite long. Bottlenecks invite conflict and danger, visibility is often compromised, and random vehicle movements occur. Some towns are more prone than others, if you can circumvent the worst then you have a better day. It’s not good to ride in low sun, in poor light/rain or high winds if you don’t have to. It is certainly worth avoiding schools as well as commuter runs.

22/02/2021 16:36:07 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ian, I feel your pain, not everyone is comfortable at the same pace and no one should be encouraged to ride beyond their capabilities, whatever level they happen to be.
I've been on training rides where I've stopped at a junction with the instructor right behind, we would wait for the others to arrive before moving on. They didn't always arrive!
Typically we would be in a group of 4, three plebs and the main man.
I don't know if they still happen but the Bike Safe ride outs were a good way to pick up a few ride pointers and they were free.
22/02/2021 18:03:13 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
First rule of riding a motorcycle - go at your own pace.

I started riding at the age of 18. I was young, dumb and full of hormones. I spent years and years trying to be fast then around 10 years back around the age of 40 I was out in Scotland with friends. One chap could ride as fast as light itself and never seemed out of control or looked scary. The rest of us wobbled and weaved and screamed our engines in a desperate attempt to maintain our pathetic male egos trying to keep up. I slowly came to the conclusion I will never be fast.

Since then I still enjoy the odd blip of the throttle and hooning around a bend but generally my riding is about relaxing, flowing, seeing things and enjoying my ride. Unless you are ridiculously slow and a menace to other traffic then ride at the pace that makes you smile.

For some riders the advanced course is a worthy education in reading the road, learning about your motorcycle's abilities and improving on a range of skills. Unfortunately it has been my experience that some advanced riders and drivers adopt the attitude that because they have been trained "properly" they can now ride as though they are on a blue light mission to save lives when out for a Sunday afternoon jaunt.

I have attended some advanced rides both IAM and private businesses. It entirely depends on the group. Some are very sensible, keep to the limits and employ the advanced training skills like road position wisely. Others are just a feeble attempt to legitimise stupid riding.
22/02/2021 18:36:25 UTC
Jim said :-
I’ve just signed up for the IAMRoadsmart caper. Hopefully it’ll take my riding on to an improved level. I will report back here when my training can start.
22/02/2021 19:22:58 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I believe THE most valuable part of any training, whether it be riding a bike or fitting wheel bearings, is that it may take a lifetime to learn a point that you could possibly learn on day one of a course.
That very point, that important fact, may be the very one that can save the day when the poo hits the fan.
Don't we expect all persons to receive the necessary training in any role before they are considered competent. Although that probably isn't always the case.
I would never underestimate how important training is but it must be targeted and relevant, we also have to realise that we won't all become class 1 advanced riders but that's not really the point.
Now about our Ed Knockin up a RV in his shed, god no, please no.
Enjoy your trainin Jim, just remember to enjoy it and remember that the important part is to become a safer rider for ya'self and others.
22/02/2021 23:25:59 UTC
Bob said :-
I've done some group riding in the past, I found myself the defacto "roadmaster" for a bike club I was in and led several decent ride outs.

Now I'm older and more grumpy.

I hate waiting for people, waiting for them to arrive at the meeting point, waiting for them to fill up, waiting for them to put their gloves back on, waiting for them to make a simple overtake that I managed on a bike with 1/5 of the power their bike makes.

I've developed a style of exploring that involves diving down narrow single track mud strewn roads just because I haven't been down them before (Ren I think you enjoy doing similar) and I don't have to worry about what's down those lanes on my KLX, but someone following on a 1/4 tonne behemoth, as most bikes seem to be these days might find it less enjoyable!

I don't speed but I make solid and very assertive progress on my 250 and I find that if there is anyone else with me I'm always having to wait for them, actually it's more than that - I find that I'm always having to think about their needs and their safety and I don't want that in my head.

Yes, I am definitely more grumpy....
23/02/2021 09:43:40 UTC
Ross said :-
Interesting reading the comments on IAM riding courses...I'd been considering doing one, not that I need to you understand, just to prove that I can! (ahem!) But last summer I was passed at some speed by a 'pupil' and instructor (said so on his bib) on an urban duel carriageway heading in to my local town centre, then as we came in to slowing traffic the instructor cut me up...'way' closer than I was comfortable with at any rate. I followed them for a bit in towards the town centre and was shocked at some of the moves they were going for, lots of heavy breaking to get them out of situations. I left 'em to it and came away very unimpressed by their riding standards!
23/02/2021 15:08:55 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
As said, IAM can be very variable. I passed my IAM test in the early 1990s before they had fancy things like radios so the cop following me used his indicators to tell me which way to go at junctions etc. Made sure I was carrying out appropriate rear observation if nothing else!

I used to be a fan but have become rather less keen especially about the "making progress" attitude - the only criticism my examiner had after my ride was that I could have overtaken a lorry before I reched a roundabout rather than following it round - I'd decided it was too close.

Over the years I've developed the opinion that attitude is far more important than machine control, positioning etc. Various bits of research seem to show that highly trained "expert" riders have just as many crashes as untrained ones - but usually at higher speed. I'm not against developing all those skills but they can be self defeating.

This forum has some intelligent and thoughtful contributors (see link):
23/02/2021 16:12:20 UTC
Jim said :-
Thanks for the IAM comments everyone. I’m interested in the idea of ‘making progress’. I always try to keep to the limits in towns and villages, and generally stay close-ish elsewhere. Have been known to borrow a few mph when overtaking. Is much more than that expected when making progress? I’m really not too bothered about riding faster, riding safer and smoother is what I’m after.
23/02/2021 19:25:13 UTC
ian said :-
jim - to answer your question, the official iam line is move up to the speed limit if there is no other impediment, ie poor conditions, hazards, other traffic...ie: if it is safe to do so. as i said in the article, i think, rospa don't have this approach and i regret not going to them. yes, they are want you to ride smoothly, look well ahead and ride defensively. i got some good tips but at the same time tire of the relentless knit picking critiques, i suppose the observer meant well. what really ticked me off in the end is that them made no concession for a bloke who is over 70 on an old heavy bike made in 1993 on the group rides, both me and the bike don't have the reactions.

23/02/2021 20:15:43 UTC
ian said :-
jim - to answer your question, the official iam line is move up to the speed limit if there is no other impediment, ie poor conditions, hazards, other traffic...ie: if it is safe to do so. as i said in the article, i think, rospa don't have this approach and i regret not going to them. yes, they are want you to ride smoothly, look well ahead and ride defensively. i got some good tips but at the same time tire of the relentless knit picking critiques, i suppose the observer meant well. what really ticked me off in the end is that them made no concession for a bloke who is over 70 on an old heavy bike made in 1993 on the group rides, both me and the bike don't have the reactions.

23/02/2021 20:15:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Speaking with Sharon after some rides she'll say things like "I could have taken that corner faster". Every single corner I take I could have taken faster, that's called my safety margin. If I could NOT have taken that corner faster then it was purely luck that got me around.

I agree with Ian Soady - attitude is the biggest key. It is good to learn about road position etc etc but if you then head out with the attitude of "speed speed speed" or "I'm better than you because I'm faster" you're just going to arrive at your accident quicker than you were before training.

I will not say "IAM is better" or "Go for ROSPA" or "Use this private business". It all depends on the individual groups and indeed instructors. I know a lady who did the IAM course where the focus was NOT on "making progress" but on good position and observations and machine control. I think the key is to try - and if you are happy then great, if not leave that team/group/instructor and find another. I suppose the problem is not shelling out a load of cash only to find you're booked into "Diamond Dave's Street Racer School for Loonies".
24/02/2021 09:30:28 UTC

Post Your Comment Posts/Links Rules



Add a RELEVANT link (not required)

Upload an image (not required)

No uploaded image
Real Person Number
Please enter the above number below

Home Ren's Biking Blog

Admin -- -- Service Records Ren's Nerding Blog