To Group Or Not To Group. What’s The Question?
Last century, my pillion chose to hang up her jacket and lid, reasoning that if something unforeseen was to happen, at least Search, Bash & Destroy would have one parent to see them through ’till they were old enough to look after themselves. I respect that, and I’m sure some of you have made similar decisions.
As a result of her decision, I did much of my riding alone, usually to and from work by the most direct route… except for Fridays when I visited my therapist. You can read more about that here. There’s a 5 minute clip here if you’re interested.
Occasionally I’d ride with some mates, or with the Z-Owners Club these were usually smaller groups of 2 to 4 bikes with maybe 20 being the biggest at a Z-Owners run. The Z-Owners usually followed up with a picnic somewhere for extended families to enjoy.
Fast forward (Covers Mouth) mumble-mumble years, and my pillion is back on the bike. I enjoy her company, and together we’re returning to some of our old haunts, and finding some new ones.
Alas, along with my old vest, most of the people we knew back in the day, have either retired from riding, or have moved away. So we’ve found ourselves looking for weekend rides with like-minded people. We’ve gone on a few group rides, both charity and club organised, and even though I support the charity runs, personally I was disappointed.
At one event there were over 100 bikes. This is fine if everyone behaves themselves, but on this ride I was getting buzzed on blind corners by sports bike riders, and it wasn’t unusual to be overtaken by someone doing upwards of 160km/h (100mp/h) on the straights. Fine on the highway but not in the hills.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no wowser*, and even though I ride more sedately now days, I won’t be completely put to shame when it comes to scratching; but in a group that big, stunts like this are just asking for trouble. Once popo takes an interest, or if someone goes down, we all wear it.
Fortunately, not all group rides are like this. We’ve been of a few rides with 50 bikes or more where it’s well organised, with radio contact through the pack, corner markers and regular stops if it’s a full day ride. We’ve met some great people and made lots of new friends doing group rides too.
Riding alone has its benefits: You can stop where and when you like, and you don’t have to lead or try to keep up. It is one of the best ways I know to lose yourself and just chill. But. It can be a problem if you run into trouble on a lonely road with no mobile phone coverage though.
Larger groups are great for meeting new people. Providing the rides are well organised, and there are no shenanigans going on in the pack, it can be very rewarding. You need to be alert though, because the group tends to bunch up and spread-out again from corner to corner.
Me. I prefer smaller groups 2 to 6-ish bikes. No-one cares that Ian rides a Harley, Keith rides a ‘Busa or that Jules could ride rings around all of us if she chose to.
I know Keith will overtake the group before the twisties come up, and do his thing. I know that The Melting Man is improving with every ride, studies the more experienced riders and asks questions on how to improve, every chance he gets. I know that I can ride at my own pace and be myself, safe in the knowledge that if something goes pear shaped, help is close by.
I also know that at the end of the day, I can enjoy a beer and meal with my friends without feeling out-of-place.
- Scuz: someone who achieves scum-bag status, yet reaches a slightly higher degree of said term. Also: biker vest or cut
- Wowser: a person who is very strict or severely critical of others, in particular a teetotaler or person opposed to alcohol.