In my last post, I talked about our Honeymoon in Sturgis. Oh, what a fantastic time we had! But there was one event we attended that wasn’t so great (for me anyway). Let me back up a little. I have been around motorcycles most of life. I have been riding my own for about 3 1/2 years (This is my fourth summer on my Sportster.) Riding my own motorcycle to The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is about 4 1/2 hours from where we live, was a major accomplishment in my life. Roy, my husband, made sure the bikes were ready, that I had plenty of practice, and I was confident that I was ready. I was ready! Everything went amazingly well. We had signed up for the Pappy Hoel Memorial Ride that the Full Throttle puts on every year. It’s a huge group ride with over a hundred bikes going. It turns out there are times when a group ride is not such a good idea.
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I can be a little stubborn. Ok, that’s an understatement. I’m a lot stubborn at times. Roy was nervous that I may not be ready for such a big undertaking. I refused to listen. I was ready Dammit! The day came, and I was stoked! I was so freaking excited to be going on this ride. Like, check this off my riding bucket list, right?! We lined up and we were about 10 bikes back from the leader. Roy was behind me, so he could keep an eye on me. Then it was time! All the bikes started and we sounded like thunder rolling out of Full Throttle. Then we hit the highway. My Sportster is a little hard to handle in high winds. It was windy. I had trouble staying over to left in our staggered formation because of the winds. I also had trouble keeping up with the group. As the ride went along, I was getting more and more frustrated to the point that this was no longer fun.
I was still determined to see it through though. In one of the towns we went through, I actually ran a stop light because I didn’t realize we didn’t have anyone to wave us through. Roy got in front of me after that and then we got separated at another stop light. This added more stress on my part because I couldn’t see him anymore.
The ride went through Spearfish Canyon, which is gorgeous, but it has a ton of tight twisty turns. I was so focused on the turns, riding next to strangers, that I never even got to enjoy the scenery! We ended up in Deadwood. Roy had a great time. Me, not so much. I was discouraged. To top it all off, a well meaning lady pointed out that my turns were not what she thought they ought to be. She did try to encourage me “not to give up” but at that point, I was done. I was exhausted and just ready to go back to our cabin and lick my wounds. I ended up crying on the way back.
So I now know what I did wrong as far as the ride went. I won’t say I will never go on a big group ride like that again, but it will be awhile. I think I’ll stick to riding in small groups with my amazing hubby and friends.
Are you thinking about going on a big group ride? Well, learn from my mistakes! Here are some guidelines you should (and I should have) follow.
Tips For Group Riding
- Wait until you’re ready (Like really ready)
- Know your limitations.
- Arrive prepared. (ie. full tank of gas, emergency supplies)
- Ride your own ride! Keep your distance, but don’t let there be too much space in between you and the bike in front of you. Cars will try to sneak in.
- Staggered formation. Leader rides on the left.
- Let others in the group know if you are still fairly new.
- Ride single file through turns.
- Know and use hand signals.
- Know the route and destination of the ride in case you get separated.
- Don’t fixate on the bike in front of you.
Riding in a group can be a lot of fun. However, there are times when a large group ride is not such a good idea, as I found out.
Do you have any tips on riding in a group? I’d love to read about them! Post in the comments below. Safe Riding!
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