Formation Riding: Will be in a standard State Patrol (staggered) formation. In staggered formation, the bikes form two columns, with the leader at the head of the left column, so he will be able to view all bikes in the formation in his/her rearview mirrors, and be able to see around vehicles the group approaches. The second bike will head the right column, and will ride approximately 1 seconds behind the leader (and in the opposite side of the lane). The other riders will position their bikes 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front of them, which puts them 1 second behind the diagonal bike. You should be able to see the drivers face that is next to you in your mirror. This formation allows each rider sufficient safety space, and discourages other vehicles from cutting into the line. The last rider, or Tail Gunner, may ride on whichever side of the lane he prefers. He will have to change sides during the ride, based on the situation at the moment.
Ride Leader: The Ride Leader must be aware of the length of the columns, and must gauge the passing of merges, highway entrances and exits, etc., to allow for maximum safety and keeping the group together. He must make sure that he leaves enough time/space for the formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions come from the Ride Leader. The Ride Leader makes all decisions regarding lane changes, stopping for breaks and fuel, closing of gaps, turning off at exits, any concerns of what lies ahead, accepting/rejecting radioed messages from other individuals, and so on. No individual will assert himself independently without direction from the Ride Leader to do so.
Tail Gunner: The Tail Gunner serves as the eyes of the Ride Leader. He watches the formation, and informs the Ride Leader of any potential problems within the group. He watches other vehicles, and informs the Ride Leader (and anyone else with radios) of hazardous conditions approaching from the rear, such as vehicles trying to cut into the formation and trucks passing with potentially dangerous wind blasts. He will watch for merging lanes, and will move into a merging lane (or stay in a merging lane just vacated by the group) in order to “close the door” on other vehicles that may otherwise find themselves trying to merge into the formation. At the Ride Leaders request, the Tail Gunner changes lanes before the formation, to secure the lane so the formation can move into it.
New Riders: The position of new (inexperienced with GROUP riding) riders within the group is significant. New riders should be positioned as close to the front as possible.
Lane Changes: All lane changes start with a radio request from the Ride Leader to the Tail Gunner. The Tail Gunner will (when it is safe to do so) move into the requested lane and will inform the Ride Leader when the lane is clear.
At this point, the Ride Leader has three options:
(A) Simple Lane Change: This is an ordinary lane change, and can be used in most situations. After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Ride Leader will put on his directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal. The leader then initiates the change. All other riders change lanes too. The important concept is that NO ONE moves until the bike in front of him has started moving.
(B) Block Lane Change: This can be used interchangeably with the Simple Lane Change. It requires a little more work, but it is well worth the effort. Its quite impressive to watch, and gives the riders a tremendous feeling of “togetherness”. This sounds a little complicated, but is actually very simple to do. After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Ride Leader will put on his directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal. The leader then raises his left arm straight up. Each rider repeats this signal. Then, as the leader lowers his arm to point to the lane into which he is moving, he actually initiates the change. All other riders lower their arms at the same time and change lanes too. This allows the entire formation to move from one lane to another as a single block.
(C) Rear Fill-in: This is sometimes necessary if a long enough gap cannot be maintained in the new lane, for example when trying to move from the right lane to the center and vehicles from the left lane keep cutting into the opening. After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the leader (usually at the suggestion of the Tail Gunner) will call for the group to fill in the space from the rear. He signals this by raising his hand to shoulder height and “pushing” It towards the new lane. All riders repeat the signal, and the last bikes move into the space in the new lane ahead of the Tail Gunner, then the next-to-last bikes move in ahead of those, and so on until the Ride Leader finally moves into the space ahead of the entire formation.
Emergencies: In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the Ride Leader will take the group to a safe stop to reorganize. DO NOT STOP AT THE SCENE (too many people create chaos). The Tail Gunner and appropriate medical personnel will attend to the injured. If a bike breaks down, let the rider move to the right. DO NOT STOP. The Tail Gunner will stop with the problem bike while the Ride Leader takes the group to a safe stopping place.
Hand Signals: Each rider (and passenger) should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of him, so that the signals get passed all the way to the back of the formation. The following signals are used in addition to the standard (right turn, left turn slow /stop) hand signals.
Block Lane Change: The leader (after having the Tail Gunner secure the lane) raises his left arm straight up. Each rider repeats this signal. Then, as the leader lowers his arm to point to the lane into which he is moving, he actually initiates the change. All other riders lower their arms at the same time and change lanes too.
Fill in from rear: After having the Tail Gunner secure the lane and putting on his directional signal (which is repeated by each rider), the Ride Leader raises his left hand to his shoulder and “pushes” his open hand toward the lane into which he wants to move. This signal is repeated by all riders, and each rider in turn, rearmost first, moves into the space ahead of the riders behind them.
Single up: When conditions warrant single file (narrow road, anticipated wind-blast from trucks, obstruction, pedestrians, etc.) the Ride Leader will raise his left hand straight up, holding up just his index finger. All other riders will repeat this, and the two columns will merge into one.
Staggered Formation: After singling up, when single file is no longer necessary, the Ride Leader will raise his left hand with thumb and pinky out, other fingers closed, rotating his wrist back and forth (indicating left, right, left, right). All other riders will repeat this and resume staggered formation.
Tighten Formation: When the Ride Leader feels that the formation should be tighter (bikes closer together) (usually after being informed by the Tail Gunner), he raises his left hand with fingers spread wide and repeatedly closes them into a fist. All other riders repeat this and close up all unnecessary space in the formation.
Hazard: This is the one signal that can be initiated by ANYONE. Anyone
seeing a hazardous condition on the road surface (road kill, oil, gravel,
significant pot hole, etc.) will point at it, LEFT SIDE of bike - you point
with your LEFT HAND, RIGHT SIDE of bike – you point with your RIGHT
FOOT. All following riders will repeat this, and all riders will avoid the