At ROAR we do a beginner's pack ride once a month to help women get comfortable riding with a group. Here is some of the advice we share with them.
First of all, make sure you have enough miles under your belt riding alone and in tandem. For some that may be as little as 300 miles and for others that might be a whole lot more, depending on riding skills and confidence. Then start out riding in smaller groups with people who are willing to ride with someone who doesn't have a lot of experience.
Before you ride with a large pack you should be able to ride in the middle of a small group comfortably. You are not ready to ride in a pack if you still want to feel like you're riding alone and leave way too much room between you and the other riders.
Don't create bad habits. If you decide to ride in a group, make a decision that you will ride in the group's formation. In the beginning they will probably position you in the back of the pack. One of the safest places to ride is in a well formed pack.
The motorcycles are staggered and in tight enough formation so cars and other vehicles are not tempted to interject themselves into the pack. A pack increases visibility and noise level, which increases the awareness of other drivers, pedestrians and even wildlife.
It takes discipline and focus to ride in a pack. Practice riding while holding your lane on a consistent basis. Don't be afraid to ask people who have ridden with you if there's anything you can do to do a better job.
Also, know that it's okay if you decide that pack riding is not for you. Some people are just happier riding with a partner or alone. That's okay.
Make sure you know the hand signals your pack may use and be ready to pass them on to the rest of the pack. Review your MSF handbook. Accept the fact that passing on hand signals is part of your responsibility. Practice using those hand signals when you're riding alone and in tandem so you become comfortable and ready to use them when riding in a pack.
Pack riding is a balance between being a safe, harmonious part of a larger group while still riding your own ride. Don't make the mistake of blindly following the bike(s) in front of you even though you are aware of an imminent danger. At the same time, take responsibility for doing your part to make an enjoyable, safe ride for your fellow riders.
No complaining! is one of my rules. No road captain can make everyone happy. Someone will be upset the pace was too fast and someone else will be complaining the pace was too slow. You rode too long or didn't ride long enough. You stopped too much — didn't stop enough.
It's okay to give constructive feedback, but don't spread your bad attitude to other pack members. Make sure other people enjoy riding with you.
Kathy Tolleson is the founder and CEO of ROAR Motorcycles, Inc.
She lives in Daytona Beach, Florida with her husband, Rodney. Together they have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.
As CEO of ROAR, she has helped bring a fresh look to
the female segment of the motorcycle industry. From
motorcycles to accessories designed with women in mind, ROAR is impacting the fastest growing segment of the industry with their "out of the box" philosophies.
Kathy is also an author and in 2009 wrote Hear My Roar! Women, Motorcycles and Mental Health, in which she shares her love of motorcycling as well as personal anecdotes to help empower women to be all they can be. Whether you ride or not, her frank look at life will challenge and inspire you. Warning: You could end up buying a motorcycle after reading this book!