Riding season is upon us and of course we are all going to either participate in a group ride or organize a group ride ourselves. For the latter it is important to be a responsible trail or group leader. Leading riders into unfamiliar areas can be fun and rewarding. What follows are some helpful tips to make the group ride a success and everybody gets back to the staging area in one piece.
Before anyone loads a single piece of gear, have a get together and talk about the 3 W’s Who, What, Where. Who is all going with you on the ride, this is also a good time to get an idea of everyones skill level. The skill level of the riders involved leads into the next question. What type of terrain is the group going to be riding on? Depending on everyones skill level will depend on the terrain you will want to take the riders on. And lastly, Where are are the riders going to ride? The what somewhat dictates the where. For example, do the riders want a challenge or a leisurely ride. As the leader you will need to respect the riders skill levels and desires, especially if they are new to the area. Remember a trail that seems easy to you may be very difficult for others and vise-versa.
2. Bring the right gear
As the leader you need to set a good example and at least require the bare minimum of safety gear before you allow anyone on the trail. Other than the obvious, be sure to take along extra specialty gear for the area or conditions you might face on the trail. For example, if your riding in an area that sees frequent afternoon showers, pack extra rain ponchos. Also even though the other riders might bring other gear, as the leader make sure you have a basic first-aid kit. Plenty of water is always a good idea as well.
3. Know your route
Know the area well. Know where the parking is, how much parking and the route you will take to get to the trail head as well as the trails themselves. Especially with new riders to the area you want to instill confidence that you know your way around. Make sure if it is a complicated area be sure to provide maps for everyone just in case someone happens to get behind. Be sure to discuss how to read the map.
4. Don’t get too far ahead
This one is simple. Keep track of your group. Stop at every fork in the trail and make sure everyone is accounted for and that everyone can see the proper turn. If there are difficult obstacles it might be a good idea to stop and make sure everyone clears the section before proceeding, this can also be a good time to take a break if people need it.
5. Action plan
Have an action plan for the extreme case of someone getting lost, breaking down, or getting hurt. A good plan is to have everyone meet at a certain well known landmark or area at the end of the day. This way when someone comes up missing it is easier to plan your search of the trail to find that person.
Every situation will warrant different tactics. These tips should only serve as introductory guidelines as the leader or organizer of a group ride.
Jon "the junk man" helping to promote responsible riding and recreation whether it be at the track or at the trail. Your source for motorcycle how to videos and much more!