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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pack Riding.

I just got back from a huge run for a local dealership with 'Celebrities' Dan Hagertey, Barry Carroway...Etc
It was the 'Rub' Crowd.
Scary as hell....3/4's of the jackasses riding couldn't hold their own.
Wobbling, weaving, slow speed near misses..redlight slides..almost hitting parked bikes..[Mine] I'd could go on but since your reading this I imagine you've seen plenty of what I'm describing.
We have all heard the rants about cagers 'Not respecting our right of way'
This is True.
But just as many go down due to their own stupidity or inexperience.
I have never been one to 'claim' riding expertise.
I let others speak to my abilities.
BUT....
This time I gotta speak up.

So you bought a bike....Good for you.
You overcame the fear and grew a pair and learned to ride.
Got your license and leathers..and are gonna be part of this 'Biker community'
Welcome aboard!!
Life just got infinitely more exciting for you.
However there's plenty of excitement in this life to go around.
Barely making it because of shitty riders shouldn't be part of it.

You know that new hire at your work...who thinks he knows everything and don't know shit??
Guess what?
That's you.
Ohh that's right, Not you.....you obviously are smarter than the average bear.
Nope, You ain't.
All of us 'Roadtramps' paid our dues to earn that name.
It didn't happen overnight.
The best ones took the advice of Scootertrash and observed...and observed and emulated...and still do.
Day in day out....still watching and learning.

I personally have worn bikes out with many many miles.
Many at an excessive rate of speed.
Not safe?
Probably not...Yet I have had many a rider along side wheel to wheel hauling ass.
And both of us felt safer than sitting in our living room chair.
When it's done right....It's artistry, synchronicity almost religious in feeling.

Want to ride like that??
Perhaps not. And that's fine.
But you should try to ride good enough to be able to.
You will end up at some point riding pack...it's damn near inevitable.
Small or large, doesn't matter.

The building blocks of a good rider are surprisingly simple.
They really are.

Try this.
When riding always ride like you're in a pack...always.
I don't care if your in Death Valley and are the only bike for a hundred miles.
Always, always ride pack style.
How?

One foot from the line.
Simple,that's it.
One foot.
One foot left if you ride right side.
One foot right if you ride lead left.
That's your line...period.
Always ride that fine line.
ALWAYS.
Get used to it so it becomes habit.
And in doing so, you have taught yourself not to wobble.
When turning...stay in that line.
Left side turns tight into that line.
And right side stays out in theirs.
Right doesn't cut in font of the lefts line and always swings wide enough for left to clear.
Left does not swing wide and push right out of his/her lane.
Simple no?
You'd be amazed at how often this simple rule gets ignored.
Always expect it to happen...even with experienced riders.
Nobody's perfect.
Always watch your partner.
Riding 'Outlaw'
Stay wheel to wheel.
Not just a little behind or ahead.
There is a blind spot.
If your front wheel is even with my engine, you have vanished.
I look left and no bike....I look in my mirror..no bike.
Your gone....Now I'm looking everywhere for you...WTF where the hell did he go?
He was just here a sec ago.
I roll off throttle and lo and behold there you are.
This is seriously bad.
While my attention is momentarily diverted looking for you and not focusing on my 'line'
Remember...one foot.
It takes constant vigilance to maintain.
As it should be.
It keeps you alert and aware at all times.

Note.
"I don't ride Outlaw I ride staggered because my Hog riding book says so"
Bullshit.
If this is how you feel comfortable riding, Then ride there far enough back so I can see you in my Mirror.
However...
It's a false security.
At the average speed of 60 you're only milliseconds behind and that old chestnut of 'Room to maneuver' is deadly.
You didn't see what made me swerve right as I am most likely blocking your view of the obstruction anyway.
Following behind at a 'respectable distance still ain't gonna give you enough reaction time.
Seen it happen time and time again.
Outlaw?
We both see the Object at the same time and both instinctively swerve right in unison.
Perfect...No.
But better than the other way and if you wanted safe...buy a Segway.
Also how many times have you been in a hurry in your car to turn left...wait for the car in the left lane to pass and gun it across lanes to get in.
We have all done it..Don't even try denying it.
And after the car went by...oops there is a car/Bike just behind in the right lane.
Luckily you were paying attention... could have been a helluva wreck..Whew!!
This is actually where a lot of left turn cagers meet bikes
They didn't see you..they couldn't.
Try this.
Go to your hallway,stand on the right.
Have your spouse stand a few feet down the hall facing you on the left near the middle.
Have someone else stand just behind them closer to the wall.
Can't see them can you?
Your spouse is blocking your view.
Always try to match the traffic going through an intersection, don't be just behind them.
Following traffic.
If your partner is riding a few feet back...Throttle off and stay along side.
Don't ride ahead even just a few feet.
Kinda gives you pause on the whole staggered thing don't it?
And in a pack... staggered spreads the line out so far you have idiots racing to catch up..and as you'll note the novice riders tend to congregate back there...recipe for disaster.
I have seen too many riders overtrust the braking ability of themselves and the bike.
Happens more than you think.
A excellent riding Buddy of mine was guilty of this from time to time.
He finally tagged a car and went down.
He was almost stopped when he hit so no damage of consequence..except his pride.
Yet just three little feet back.....never would have happened. 3 feet.
Your table that you're sitting at probably ain't that wide.

Is this all? No, not by a long shot.
But do these things and practice braking, downshifting, situation awareness,tight turning.
Watch the "Scootertramps" around you and learn.
Ask them for advice.
I'll have far more respect for you than if you try to fake it.
You can't..Trust me.
We can tell.
But if you do these Simple things,Perhaps you'll someday overhear.....
Man, That fucker can RIDE!
Trust me...ain't no sweeter words ever uttered than that.

10 comments:

Willy D said...

No wonder I think you’re crazy. You ride as bad as I do. Fast and faster.

Toni said...

New riders have to be careful who they ask for advice. I've seen people who have been riding 20+ years do some really asshole moves over and over again. They have been lucky enough that the other riders around them had enough skill to avoid a potentially serious accident. My opinion, you have to ride your own ride not someone else's ride. If you have never been on a bike ever in your life, there is no shame in taking a riding class. Ride the way you are comfortable riding as long as you are not a danger to yourself or others. If you are riding for the approval of others you have no business on a bike.

Big Daddy said...

I agree totally.
You should have had training before you ever got that license.
And never stop training..That was the point.
As for old crappy riders...Yep many out there.But if you pay close attention you'll see they are not the ones you'll be asking for advice from.
Ride your own ride..True to a point.
When you ride with others you need to learn proper protocol and ride accordingly.
Was this post an end lesson...no
Just a little guide to help someone improve.

Webster World said...

There is protocol when riding with others. A foot away I agree. Taking a class will help you learn what you don't aready know. And there is no dought a lot to learn. And for the older riders, well things change. One has to learn to change with it. I've been riding for 47 yrs and riding in a pack is not the same as years past. So I avoid it best I can. Only when we lose someone do I ride. One just has to know when to realize it's time. As it will one day when I have to give it up. Sad day that will be. Maybe when I'm 80 and get shoot in the back of the head by a 20 yr. old irrate husband. Hope he times it right.

Toni said...

I agree, there are "rules" to riding with a group. It keeps people from getting hurt. Group riding ( I'm talking more than 4 bikes)just not my thing. I'm kind of a loner. I don't "play well with others" very often.

mq01 said...

ive got so many thoughts on this, many i'll censor to keep it short, but i will say; ive never been more troubled on a group ride than i was with HOG! and my local hog btw. livermore, jamestown, and modesto hog all meet up for a poker run of sorts (they do this a few times per yr) and my last time partaking was scary shit.

a chick with shiny new leathers on a new road king (sigh) couldnt keep it up! she really didnt belong there, dropping it at every stop and rolling into every parking lot (low speed prob). grrr! lack of skill & training, and obstinately fucking careless! yet HOG! let her stay with the group! OMFG! and then the f'ers insisted on doing high speed (we are in the city and you do have to stay with the flow of traffic-but this was out of line over 75 with a f'ing scary newbie).

me and a few others broke off and left the ride.

and eventually hog kicked her out due to the risk.

i have story after story like this. and although i saw hundreds buy/build S&S/arlen customs (back when they were custom) and dump 'em fast, like seriously right out the driveway LOL! at least those folks only seemed to eat it when they 1st jumped on, and/or they mostly hurt only themselves hotrodding at high speeds. most knew what they were getting with the big hp bikes and pack rides were way different. yet we'd still have probably 1 down each ride. oh wait, there was that one idiot local richy rich kid...

sorry i said id keep it short. damn. ;) lol...

KT Did said...

One reason I don't ride in groups anymore are all of the reasons you stated. Just too many riders with too many forms of "education". Even at the Love Ride, I got up early and left alone and rode to the event before it started, just to stay away from them all. Unfortunately there were two deaths and another 2 were seriously injured. People passing people up and manuevering in front of peeps, in other lanes, even passing on the right...always happens and I just do not enjoy it. Its also just downright crazy. I learned a bit from this here post! Thank you!

IHG said...

Great advice!!!! Thank you Scootertramp!!!

Lady R said...

When I first started riding my own, I couldn't wait to get involved in group rides. They looked awesome and cool and I wanted to be a part of that.

However... the more riding experience I got... the less enticing that became. For all the reasons you stated here... I learned, from my own experiences that I can enjoy MY ride much better, without all the extra risks and obstacles. (Obstacles being other riders doing the crazy and unexpected!)

Some of my best rides ever were just me and my Glide. Great post Caveman.

Doug 'Papa-Smurph' Leach said...

Caveman, you couldn't be "riter". I have been riding for over 20 years and I still make mistakes. I have ridden groups with HOG and was even a road captain for a few years. We stressed safety, safety, safety. I made my living on my bike riding as a funeral escort for 5 years. Scary shit there. As you well know, I have ridden some very long rides (Alaska and other interstate rides) and pride myself as a safe and conscientious rider. However, there is always something to learn.

Since knowing you and riding with you I can see that there is another riding skill I need to master, riding outlaw. The closest I have come to that is when I rode as a funeral escort. We rode wheel to wheel, but with several variations that I will not bore you with here. We need to ride together more so I can learn. OK?

In the years I rode with my HOG chapter I can honestly say we only had one rider crash. He his some loose sand on a left turn in an intersection (done that myself). Our constant vigilance for safety violations in the pack paid off big time.

However, I am always scared when I go on these big rides like the Centennial Ride last Saturday. Estimates of 4-6 thousand bikes. I am amazed that there were only two accidents. I guess 15 MPH on the freeway helped, but on the other hand you can't do that to air cooled engines. At least it was a relatively cool day.

But I digress. Let's you and me do some serious outlaw riding before summer gets here. OK?