Rider EducationBy Charlie & Connie Brown
Youíve probably seen motor officers (and also big bad bikers) riding side-by-side in two columns. The side-by-side formation looks really impressive but limits both riders maneuvering room. Even more, cops have had accidents where one bike has bumped into the one beside it.
The "staggered" formation allows more maneuvering room. In the "staggered" formation, you ride in the opposite wheel track from the rider ahead of you. That is, if heís in the left wheel track, you take the right wheel track. (if you have a preference which track you are more comfortable let your ride captain know before you start the ride.) The staggered formation moves the same number of bikes in the same road space as a side_ by_ side formation, but allows bikes in either column to temporarily move sideways to avoid a hazard such as a pot hole, car door, or an edge trap.
The staggered formation also provides a better view of other riders. If you follow 1 second behind the rider in the other wheel track, that puts you 2 seconds behind the rider directly in front of you. Two seconds is the minimum distance to provide a space cushion, while keeping the group as compact as possible. If everyone pays attention, it is easy to establish and maintain a two second formation. Itís the captainís choice to ride the left or right wheel track, however; it appears the norm in Chapter Y for the leader to ride from the left track.
The bad news is that we must be prepared for a "Daffy Don" to join the group. When you are starting your engines, Daffy will probably still be nattering with that chickie_babe on the pink cruiser, with his helmet and gloves inside the ice cream shop, and his keys in an inside pocket.
During the ride, you can expect Daffy to constantly be drifting over into the wrong track with the following riders all doing the line samba trying to reestablish the staggered formation. If we know Daffy, he will drop back an extra 8 or 10 seconds, just enough to allow a following car to pass and cause the last 3 riders to miss the green light. And, of course, Daffy will expect you to find a gas station in a few minutes, because he only fills up after is bike has gone on reserve, or the red light comes on, and that wonít occur for another 5 miles.
Donít think you can ignore him-heíll roar up through the formation to tell you when heís ready! The moral of this comment is to always start a ride with a full gas tank AND an empty bladder! WHEN ITíS TIME TO GO ___GO!
My suggestion for ride captains blessed with a "DAFFY" is to make it clear at the riderís meetings before the ride that you expect everyone to conform to the group. Explain your expectations for the ride, along with any rules you think would help. For instance, you might explain that if any rider in the group is unable to maintain the 2 second following distance, it is acceptable for the following riders to pass. Describe where the group will be stopping and where the ride is expected to end. Make it clear that when the group stops for fuel, everyone is expected to top up their tanks and drain their bladders! When it is time to leave, GO! Your ride leader should make it clear that when he sets the departure time that is when the ride starts and that you werenít kidding! Leave Daffy running round in circles departure time, that is when the ride starts and that you werenít kidding! Leave Daffy running round in circles back in the parking lot if heís not ready and keep the rest of the group moving when Daffy runs out of fuel during the ride. Donít let the Daffies of the world ruin the ride for everyone else.
Itís spring in a few days, so go over those bikes to be sure that your tires are at proper pressure, your fluids are topped off, and look for the residue of winter on the streets, because those left over hazards from winter are EVERYWHERE!!!
Charlie & Connie Brown
Chapter Y Educator,
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