I'm such a hypocrite. I wrote a post about "Why I Don't Group Ride" and then immediately left on a trip to do a tire launch that was a group ride. So much for sticking to my rules. It's part of the job, however, so here are some pointers if you are going to go on a group ride. (This story is from several years ago but since I am relaunching 2 Wheels and a Motor it was a great place to start over.)
These aren't just tips for the ride leaders, these are tips that can benefit everyone. If each person in the group did these things, group riding wouldn't be nearly as terrible.
Tip #1: Before you ever start a group ride, try to familiarize yourself with the route. That way, if you need to leave early, you know how to get home on your own. It's also handy if you have a break down to be able to tell people where to come to get to you.
Tip #2: Show up with a full tank of gas. This seems simple, but trying to take 10 bikes into a gas station a mile into the ride sets a very negative tone right off the bat.
Tip #3: Have a bike capable of the route. In other words, don't ride your rigid bobber to the adventure ride that is going to cover 300 miles and you need to stop every 50 miles for fuel, and every 100 miles to tighten bolts. The same thing applies to riding a vintage Triumph with electrical gremlins. Yeah, it has character, but unless everyone else is stopping to repair their bikes at the same time it gets old quickly.
Rat bikes, hipster specials, and cafe bikes are awesome to look at, but not cool when parts come flying off at the rider following. Maintenance is important not just for yourself, but also for those around you. Check the air in your tires, make sure lights work, and tighten those loose bolts.
Tip #4: Don't be a hero. No one cares that you can get a knee down and could care less that you can do 100mph in a straight line. Ride at your own pace and don't ride aggressively near people you do not know. The worst end to a group ride is an ambulance ride.
If you feel the pace is too fast or too slow for you, or you feel agitated about either, you need to leave the group. Don't spend all day being frustrated. You will either start to ride too aggressively during the ride or let loose after the ride, adding to your danger level. Maybe you won't, but most of us would in a heartbeat so let's just avoid the behavior issues.
There are more crazy things that I've witnessed—these are the top tips to ensure you get through the group ride safely. Tell us your stories below!