Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Road Companions: Riding with Others or Going it Solo

I've read an awful lot about the subject of Riding With Others. There are strong opinions on either side, neither really incorrect.

I will take this opportunity to briefly spell out the arguments on both sides. And I look forward to hearing your take on the issue.

It's extremely important to choose a good road partner BEFORE the ride...be it your brother, wife, best friend, your best friend's wife, a fellow rider or your trusty dog. Internet groups have increased the number of riders meeting on-line and riding together – often without a face-to-face meeting prior to hitting the road. Something occurs to relationships on the road. Patience is tested, nerves are rattled, alliances are put to the limit, murders are committed and friendships are strained. OK, maybe there are no DOCUMENTED killings, but I assure you, if looks could kill…

Hundreds or thousands of miles from home is no time to discover that your travel companion’s style doesn’t quite agree with yours. He doesn’t like to leave early, she doesn’t want to ride over 65 MPH, and they like to stop every 50 miles to smell the roses or see the sights or eat or what-not. Small foibles in Omaha become huge obstacles in New Jersey.

Many riders decide to ride solo – either to bypass the problems described above, or just because they enjoy the solitude of the road. Downsides may include loneliness, diminished safety, increased cost of lodging and the lack of immediate roadside assistance should an unscheduled stop occur. To some riders, those are risks worth taking to ensure harmony while traveling.

OK, you’ve decided to ride with others (or the decision has been made for you -- at times, riding with a group is inescapable). Here are some points to consider well before getting on the road:

• What route will the group take?
• How fast will we ride and for how long?
• Who will lead, who will trail?
• When will we start the day and when will we stop?
• How many rest stops and how often?
• How will we communicate?
• How will we manage hotel accommodations or camping?
• How will finances be handled or costs shared?
• What actions will we take if there are mechanical difficulties? Will the group continue with the ride or wait with a stranded biker?
• What actions will we take if we are separated?
• Who should we contact in the event of an accident?
• How will we handle changes to the scheduled itinerary?

While this is by no means an all-inclusive list, it definitely begins the thought process on what discussions should take place during the ride planning.

Whether you ride solo, with another motorcycle enthusiast or with 50 other riders, I hope you have a safe, fun and memorable ride.

I'm interested in hearing your opinions and experiences.

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