Chapter rides are led by a Road Captain (RC) and are modeled after the guidelines outlined in the Harley-Davidson HOG® Handbook and the Riders Edge – MSF video.
Each group will have a ‘Sweep’ RC (last bike in a group). The Sweep is responsible for identifying and reporting problems in the group (such as gaps from traffic lights), and coordinating/addressing breakdowns or accident scenes. Please do not ride behind the Sweep bike.
Other Group Information You Should Know
- Guest Riders – Insurance is provided to participants of Chapter rides. Therefore, Chapter Members are responsible for ensuring that their guest sign a registration / release form.
- Children – Minors need a separate release signed by a parent or legal guardian. It is important to note that grandparents are typically not the child’s legal guardian and cannot sign for their grandchildren.
- New Riders or Riders New to Group Riding – WP HOG encourages new group riders to ride next to a RC in either the front or the rear of the ride. Our focus is for each rider to have fun and learn to enjoy riding with a group.
- Many RCs use CB radios – channel 18. Enjoy listening to the chatter and join the conversation except when RCs are controlling traffic (i.e., traffic signals and lane changes).
- The Wild Prairie HOG® Chapter has a NO ALCOHOL policy. We do not allow bikers to ride in a group if they have been drinking alcohol either before or during a ride. Our RCs have the responsibility to ask you not to ride in the group if you have been drinking alcoholic beverages. Road Captains have the option to stop a ride if the rider does not leave the group.
Again, the focus is to ride and have fun… safely.
Wild Prairie Group Rides
Show up for rides 30 minutes before departure. Prior to departure, there is a pre-ride briefing. Please give the briefing your full attention. Feel free to ask questions!
- Have a full gas tank and an empty bladder.
- Ensure your bike is properly maintained. Check your bike before each ride: Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Kickstand (T-CLOCK).
- Have what you will need for the ride with you: rain gear, water, snacks, proper clothing, medications, etc. Come prepared!
- Stay Alert. Ride Safe. Use Common Sense. Be Courteous. Have Fun!
- Minnesota Law requires glasses, goggles, face shield, etc. Make sure you have clear (non-tinted) eye protection in the unlikely event we ride after sunset.
- Minnesota Law requires helmets if you are less than 18 years old or riding with a motorcycle permit. WP HOG strongly encourages all riders and passengers to wear a helmet.
Group Riding Maneuvers
When the RCs are ready, the Leader will mount up, pull forward from the parking spot and wait for the group to get ready. You need to mount up, line up, and get ready to leave.
Usually the Lead Bike will not exit a parking lot unless there is room for all or most of the group to follow immediately. If the group is split, the Lead Bike will take the slow lane until the group can form up in the positions that the riders will keep for the duration of the ride.
This may mean traveling slower than surrounding traffic, encouraging cars to pass, allowing the group to form up. Occasionally, this cannot be accomplished until the group has made a lane change or entered a freeway. Note: Regardless of the Lead Bike’s signals, each rider is responsible for his/her own safety at all times.
A group of bikes riding together does not exempt you from the ‘laws of the road.’ Note: If the group is too stretched out, the Lead Bike may slow down or pull over in a large parking lot for the group to get back in formation.
The group will ride in a staggered formation starting with the Lead bike in the left side of the lane. Keep a 2 – 3 second distance behind the bike directly in front of you. Staggered formation will continue unless the Lead Bike signals for single file.
Reasons for single file formation: passing situation, poor road conditions, and obstacles in the road, approaching a bicyclist or pedestrian, coming to an exit / entrance ramp or tight curves.
Regardless staggered or single file, each rider commands the entire width of their lane and has the right to move left or right as preferred.
Trikes, Sidecars, or Bikes With a Trailer
Ride in the center track. Due to additional weight, allow a longer gap behind these bikes (as if they were a car). The first bike behind a trike/sidecar/trailer returns to staggered formation in the left side of the lane.
Filling the Gap – Cross Over
If a rider drops out of a staggered formation, it is desirable to preserve the integrity of the formation. The bikes that are behind the gap fill-in by crossing right or left into the other column. Do not fill the gap by passing the bike ahead of you.
Riders are expected to come to a stop side-by-side (two abreast). The riders should proceed through the intersection in pairs when safe to do so. This is the only situation where riders are side-by-side in a traffic lane. Once through the intersection, riders resume their left or right side of the lane. If cars get in-between riders, let them in.
Obey traffic laws. Do not ‘run’ red lights to remain with the group. Road Captains will alert the Lead Bike that some of the group remains at a traffic light. When safely possible, the Lead RC may pull on the shoulder or a parking lot to allow others to re-join.
Lead Bike initiates hand signals. Riders are encouraged to pass them back to the riders behind you.
- Single-file formation: One finger points to the sky.
- Staggered formation: Two fingers points to the sky, rotated side to side.
- Slow down: Left are is at 45-degree downward angle, moving your hand up and down in a patting motion.
- Stop: Left arm extended downward with palm of hand facing rearward.
- Pointing to an obstacle in the road: Left hand or foot for obstacle on left side of road. Right foot for obstacles on right side of road.
- Need Gas: When you need gas, point at the gas tank.
- Need Food: When you need food or a break in general, point at your mouth.
- Turn Signals: Most bikes have turn signals — use them. Hand signals used in conjunction with turn signals give everyone in the group and other traffic a clear idea of you intentions.
Two Lane Passing
If the Lead Bike decides to pass a slow moving vehicle, each individual rider must decide if it is safe to follow.
Only pass when you have ample room and visibility to safely complete the pass. Pass one at a time acting as an individual. Never blindly follow another bike in a passing situation. After passing, move far enough forward to allow room for the riders that will come behind you.
Leaving the Group, Unanticipated Stops or Breakdowns
If you plan to leave the group early, notify the RCs. This way they will know that you do not have a problem or need assistance.
If you suddenly need to stop or experience a breakdown, signal your intention to pullover and do so safely. At least one of the RCs will stop to assist you, probably the Sweep. The rest of the group should continue. It is not safe to have dozens of bikes pulled over on the side of the road.
Exceptions to Normal Guidelines
Ride your own ride! Remember that riding in a group does not mean you surrender any decision making when it comes to your safety. This means that any guideline for group riding can and should be ignored when it does not ‘feel right.’ Determining when this is the case and acting prudently is each rider’s individual responsibility at all times.