Most riders at some time will want or must ride, with someone else. As soon as you ride with one other person (even an OR), in essence you’re on a Group Ride and your decisions may be affected by this.
A Group Rider training session was held at Guildford Fire Station on Saturday, 7th October. Andy Stevenson ran and led the training session for 6 full members and with Eddie Wright riding shotgun as Tail End Charlie, the 8 riders provided a good-sized group to “exercise” the different aspects of riding in a group. All 6 riders doing the training performed, and fully engaged in the day’s presentation in the classroom and the two rides.
After a couple of hours of discussion and a PowerPoint presentation, followed by a ride briefing, the first ride of around 40 miles left the centre. The route included town and urban riding which was chosen to challenge the concepts from the classroom presentation using both the “follow-on” and the “drop off” system. The route chosen was not one meant to provide fast riding and lots of overtaking but to demonstrate and cram in as many of the skills required to ride effectively, efficiently, and safely as a group over long distances. The route headed slightly to the south and east of the centre through back roads, Dorking, the A25 to Reigate and then back roads to the top of the A217 hill at Junction 8 and onto the M25. This motorway section necessitated “engaging” on the M25 with the congestion currently in place at the Junction 10 roadworks of the M25 and the A3. A really challenging arena, necessitating filtering and awareness of other vehicles and the group, to keep us all together.
After a “working” lunch and de-brief back at the Fire Station, the group left for a much longer ride, over about 75 miles to the south and west of Guildford. This ride gave all the wayfinding problems needed to provide follow-on and drop-off opportunities. The route went through Shalford, Chiddingfold, Dunsfold, via the A283 to Petworth and Midhurst along the A272 to Petersfield to pick up the A3. On the A3, through the Hindhead tunnel and back to the centre for a second debrief: discussing what worked, what didn’t, and what you have liked. One rider mentioned how seeing the group from the back, alternating their tight staggered P1 to P3 and back again as the leader changed his position, was something to see: “like a living organism – something to behold”. Praise indeed for Andy.
The routes chosen are not like those which you might expect on either an Associates Only Ride, a Social or a Full Member’s Ride which are normally on open roads and avoiding towns but we rode two routes to practice the group riding system to the utmost.
With the classroom presentations, discussions, the new concepts discussed for one’s riding consideration, the levels of concentration and two complex rides totalling around 120 miles, unsurprisingly some riders mentioned that it was a tiring day. Most riders would have ridden more than 200 miles by the time they had arrived home. This should be considered good training for some of LAM’s longer rides including a possible upcoming trip to Germany in 2024.
Group Rider Training is in good health and most importantly, in good hands.
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