Part of the Pack or Lone Wolf: Riding Your Way
Riding motorcycles can be one of life’s greatest adventures. It’s about personal freedom, exploring new places and having fun. The best part about motorcycling is that no matter what type of riding you do, whether with other people or by yourself, you can’t go wrong. And since May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, there’s no better time to discuss safety implications and pros and cons of riding alone or with a group. Deciding what’s best for you is a matter of understanding the differences and knowing what to expect.
Group riding encompasses everything from formal, highly organized and structured rides to less formal or loosely structured events among friends. Riding as a group for a particular cause, such as a cancer run or a fundraiser for a charity, are good examples. These events are often advertised in the local media and include fun activities and prizes as incentives for riders to participate.
Informal group riding usually consists of a group of friends or acquaintances who get out and ride together to a particular destination. These rides are less organized than the other types of group riding, but there has to be enough structure in place to get everyone to the destination safely.
Speaking of safety, check out the video below in support of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month:
Safety in Numbers
By far, one of the best aspects of group riding is the camaraderie experienced between participants. Group riding [link to external page] can be lively and energetic. You are out on your bike, surrounded by like-minded people, seeing the same stretches of road, and often stopping to take fun photographs of each other, the bikes and the scenery.
Group riding also tends to be safer. A large pack of riders is easier to see than a solo rider. You are with multiple people and at least one of them will notice if you forgot to secure a saddle bag or if your taillight suddenly stops working. And, if a bike actually breaks down on a group ride, there are plenty of people to help. You’d be surprised at how many riders get back on the road with a well-placed strip of duct tape that came from a buddy’s saddle bag.
The challenges of riding in a group center around having little control over your experience. You don’t set the pace of the ride or the route, and the pace might be above or below your skill or comfort level. In addition, motorcyclists new to group riding are often leery of riding in formation, which is required. It all depends on the group holding the event as to the formation chosen (staggered or side-by-side), but bikes are often much closer together than most people are comfortable with. Plus, riders have to make a concerted effort to control the gap between themselves and the bike in front so the group doesn’t get split up by cars.
Solo riding, on the other hand, is all about you: the destination and routes you’ve chosen, the pace at which you’ll ride, the stops you’ll make and how you want to divide your day. You ride at your skill and comfort level and don’t have to consider other people’s needs or abilities. You have total freedom and control over your experience.
You end up taking lots of photos of the scenery and your bike against the scenery, but you aren’t in the photos. Plus, there is no one to talk to at gas and rest stops.
The biggest drawback to riding solo is of course, that as the lone wolf, you are out there alone. You end up taking lots of photos of the scenery and your bike against the scenery, but you aren’t in the photos. Plus, there is no one to talk to at gas and rest stops. And, as mentioned, solo riders are usually less visible to motorists. Lastly, if something happens to your bike, you have to rely on your own wits and tools to get yourself out of the situation.
Whether you ride in a pack for a fundraiser, with a small group of friends on a sunny Saturday, or simply like to go it alone, motorcycle riding can perfectly accommodate virtually any taste. Knowing the dynamics of group versus solo riding will help you decide how you like to ride.
How do you like to ride? Share below.