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Rolling Thunder®, Inc. Chapter 3 Illinois
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Group Ride Guidelines


I. Introduction:

Rolling Thunder® Inc. has developed this plan with the upmost safety in mind. When it comes to group riding, compliance to the rules of the road are a must.  Organized riding allows us to display our pride, discipline and camaraderie, but most of all, it’s safe riding.

1. Organizing the ride. This can be a simply brief, or for more formal and longer rides, a bit more comprehensive. It can be done while standing at a staging area, or by having special ride meetings before the event. In either case, Its purpose is to discuss the route to be taken, hand out maps, discuss special instructions, planned rest or fuel stops, weather and road conditions, and identify road guards and formation positions.

       a. The Formation: The formation may vary depending on the specific event or run. Flags should always lead behind the road captain and guard, the chapter president then the membership. The formation is intended to be a balanced mixture of seasoned riders and those less experienced. Unless designated otherwise, there will be no other position assignments. There should be a left and right flank road guard and a tail guard. Note: Consideration should be given to positioning the less experienced riders in a mix with those more experienced.

      b. The Route: When picking the route and stops made along the ride, consider the stamina of the group, the riding experience of all the riders, and the limits of the motorcycles in the group. Remember, in many cases there will be guest on the ride. If it's going to be a long ride, be sure to have a few break and pit stops along the way. We have a mission to achieve, however we must always remember to make the ride safe and enjoyable as well.

      c. The Pace: Keep a comfortable pace, within the law and the limits of other riders. Riding in a group does not mean riders should surrender any decision-making when it comes to safety. (If you can’t keep up with the group signal to the road team and follow their instructions) their recommendation may result in a pace adjustment or changing your position in the formation. Remember, once assigned or self positioned in the formation you should remain in that position throughout the ride. When a member of the road team leaves the formation, their place should remain reserved until they return. Vehicles other than motorcycles will follow in the rear of the formation except when flag vehicles at events and parades etc.

      d. Communication: Communication is important while on the ride.  Make sure everyone knows the hand signals. Also, the road crew should be in radio contact at all times. Be sure to have radio coverage located so that you cover the front, middle and rear of the group and that they are fully functional prior to leaving for the ride.

2. Safety: Remember; the only good ride is a safe ride. We must be sure to keep our members (friends) safe at all times. Any display of inconsiderate or unsafe riding practices should be reported to the road captain immediately. There is no room for horseplay or any other riding patterns inconsistent to safe riding practices. Drinking and Driving don’t mix. The life you save could be your own, more importantly it could be someone elses. Rolling Thunder® reserves the right to: a) Reposition a rider in formation, b) Prohibit any rider who displays unsafe riding habits from riding in the formation, c) Declare a cycle unsafe due to lack of maintenance.

3.General: The goal of the ride is to keep the group together and to minimize the potential for cars to break the formation. Keep with the pace, look ahead and stay alert at all times. While riding, don't fixate on the motorcycle in front of you. Instead, remember your basic training. Look well ahead or through the turn to where you want to go. If the group is riding faster than you are comfortable with, let the road team know and follow their instructions. (Signal for help)   

      a. All riders are responsible for making sure their motorcycles are mechanically up to the ride. Before you even meet up with the group, make sure to top off the gas tank and you've taken care of all those first echelon maintenance issues. Equipment does fail however, don't be the reason for stopping the group for something mechanical you could have prevented. 

      b. If it's going to be a large group, consider establishing a buddy system among the riders, that way, if something goes wrong, you don't have 25 motorcycles sitting on the side of a busy highway. If there is a brake down have a buddy crew to stay behind and help, while the group continues on. (Pre-determined before leaving on the run.)

      c. On the road, motorcyclists should have at least a 2-3 second cushion in front and behind them. Adjust the cushion based on the weather and road conditions. Keep a safe, staggered formation. Leave enough room per lane so each rider can maneuver side-to-side if need be. Don’t ride side-by-side formations, they shrink your space cushion, are less safe and in most states are against the law.

      d. As turns get sharper, or as visibility decreases, or when roads have a rough or questionable surface pay special attention to the hand signals. You may be directed to move into a single file formation. If so, the rider on the left always moves first.

      e When coming to a stop at intersections, tighten the formation to side-by-side to take up less space. As the light turns green, or when traffic opens up, the bike on the left proceeds through first then return to your original staggered formation.

      f. Road Guards are to secure the lanes and be sure there is no cross traffic. However, even with the Illinois Road Guard Law remember we share the road, and some states do not allow intersections to be blocked.

     g. Cars or other vehicles traveling with the group are to be positioned at the rear of the formation and should display CAUTION signs if possible.

     h. When parking, try to get the entire group off the roadway as quickly as possible. If you can, arrange in advance to have pull-thru parking at your destination, or at the very least, make sure there is ample parking for the entire group. Prior to departing the parking area, be sure that the formation is once again ready for travel.

     i. Before Any Trip: Be sure to perform 1st echelon maintenance on your vehicle. Check oil and other fluid levels, check tires for air and excessive wear, check horn and all lights brakes and clutch. Gas-up before Showing-up, dress properly: helmet, gloves and eye protection. Be prepared; bring rain gear and extra cloths.

II. Hand Signals: Be sure to use hand signals whenever possible; However do not compromise safety or vehicle control in the use of hands signals. In group rides, it is suggested that every 3rd rider uses the hand signals, This would provide clear visibility of the hand signals throughout the group while keeping hands on for the rest of the group.

Hand Signals


  This guide reprinted with permission from Rich Malfitano of Chapter 8 Florida