Seems like only a few of us really ever do group rides. Well, I been doin em since the late 70s with up to 150 ? in the pack...plan on keepin on till I cant ride anymore.
Just a few rules of thumb for group rides, especially if with a crew yer not used to :
Newer, less experienced ride to the rear. This way, if a new guy lays his bike down, he wont take a bunch with him. The extreme rear, know as "the tail", would be 2 members from the sanctioning group, to help stragglers and such. A job often given to prospects.
Ride staggered. Meaning, that on a 2 lane road, you ride to the opposite side of the lane as the bike in front of you. 30mph or less, one bike distance is enough, because this gives you 3 bike lengths from the guy directly in front. 45mph, ride 2 lengths....55 and over, 3 lengths. More than enough room to see an oops and avoid. Riding in groups and having large gaps is also bad, because if a soccer mom in a cage see's an opening, she may dart out, not realizing there are 20 more coming. Keep it tight, but safely tight.
When a large group, try to arrange for a tender truck...first aid kit, tools, gas, ramps, compressor in case of on the road problems.
In groups of 30 or more, plan the route, then allert the local PDs on that route that you'll be coming thru. Very often, especially in rural areas, they can give ya escorts, or wave all on thru a redlight and such. Cops would rather ya let em know than need to run to an MVA.
Not a necessity, but printed maps of the route distributed to all helps in case someone lags behind or gets lost.
No showboating. Im constantly seeing groups of sportbike riders wheelieing, weaving, and passing each other. Its a ride, not a racetrack.
Lil late for these words this year, in the NE anyway, as Oct is the last month for most sactioned rides. But stuff to think about over the winter, if ya ever plan on going on a charity run or whatever.
Speaking from my great inexperience with group riding (rode once with two friends for about 60 miles), let me post a link to some guide lines for group riding:
This is a great site to spend some time reading for thoughtful analysis of motorcycling habits (good and bad), accidents and near accidents and how to avoid them the next time, etc.
David L. Hough (pronounced Huff) in his Proficient Motorcycling books, has some interesting thoughts on how best to break big groups up into small groups for safety and to avoid becoming a rolling road block to other traffic. He considers 3 or 4 riders to be the ideal size group to keep track of each other while riding.
Correction: I re-read the group ride section last night and Hough was quoting a mc tour promoter in South Africa who reguarly ran groups of 50 or more. He had them break into small groups of 2 or 3. (NOT 4 as I wrote originally. ) With 3 in a group each rider can always see the other two. Once you have 4 riders it is easy to have one screened from view of another.
The tour promoter said that on previous rides any accidents always happened with groups of 4 or larger.
I believe it is Hough who also advocates putting new riders in the group right behind the leader so they don`t get caught in the "rubber band effect" when the group stops and starts. It also gives gives experienced riders who are regulars with the group a chance to evaluate the newbie's skills, and decide when they are ready to ride where ever they choose to in the group.
Not trying to rock the boat here or disagree with Wolfie and his apparent love of large group rides, just some ideas to consider when deciding if riding in large groups is for you.
I'm not sure my riding skills are up to the task yet, so will continue to ride mostly solo myself for the forseeable future.