Monsoon clouds are giving way to clear skies but leaving behind lush green landscapes with seasonal waterfalls here and there. It’s the right time to appreciate Mother Nature before the scene changes. Just the perfect time we reckon to get together with friends and ride by those beautiful mountains, spectacular riversides and breathtakingly picturesque views. Sawan S Hembram gives you some tips on how to ride in and as a group
photography: sanjay raikar
When a few people come forward for a group ride, the motive must be clear – whether it is a leisure ride or the emphasis is on reaching a particular destination. This plays a major role for all other issues associated with group riding. Accordingly, planning the ride becomes easier.
Group riding may involve individuals with different levels of riding skills, experiences as well as mentalities. It’s quite possible that only a few are familiar with the route to be followed. In such case, routes should be discussed beforehand. All riders need to know about checkpoints such as refuelling stops or food joints, etc. If the group is fairly large, it is recommended to split in smaller groups, each with at least one experienced rider and with a sense of responsibility. Sub-grouping may be done according to riding skills so that slower bikers remain in each others’ company. Exchanging cell phone numbers with fellow riders is a good idea to deal with any eventuality. It is also important to discuss beforehand how to deal with any possible crisis.
Once a biker group takes to the road, the state of affairs could become quite complex and chaotic. However, sticking to a previously discussed formation is the best idea. It is always recommended to maintain safe distance from fellow riders. If a rider in front finds a challenging situation and slams the brakes, others behind him should have enough room to react safely. Similarly, formation must be such that all riders get the maximum view of the road ahead. This is easier said than done. Remember, a rider on a bike would cover much less view (due to the helmet) in comparison to a four wheeler and further more, a bunch of riders in front of you could block the entire view of road ahead. A diagonal formation with sufficient gaps in between solves this problem to a large extent.
Another usual occurrence during group riding is that skilled riders with powerful bikes zip ahead fast. Invariably other followers push themselves hard just to keep up. Many a times this results in accidents. Less skilled riders in order to keep up enter corners at high speeds, fail to exit properly and end up biting dust, literally! You can avoid this by looking at the road ahead instead of the taillight of the bike in front of you. If there are sub-groups of faster and slower riders, such occurrences can be completely evaded.
Overtaking becomes another major issue while riding in a group. Adrenaline seekers love to overtake each other often forgetting the whole idea of a joyride. This could translate into a crisis if it involves a large group. It is better to lay out rules regarding overtaking (whether it is allowed or not) for all the riders within a group. Similarly, overtaking other bigger vehicles in a row must be avoided. While the bike in front may instantly react to any critical situation, those closely following it have little chance to do that. Also refrain from showing off while in a group.
Remember to slowdown while passing through populated areas such as towns and villages especially when there is a road sign implicating a school ahead. Even at a reasonable speed, a large group of bikers can be seen as rowdy fellows by others. If passing through populated areas at night, you must use the low beam in order to not blind other oncoming vehicles and locals on the road.
A proper interaction among all the riders results in riding as a group rather than just riding with a group. This will further increase team spirit and the joy of riding. Remember to care for yourself as well as your fellow riders. If have a pillion rider, be considerate to him/her and be extra careful. Don’t forget to wear adequate riding gear and carry a first aid kit. Enjoy your ride.