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Solo or Group

Written By Chad Gillen


I get asked a lot where I ride. My first response is usually, “Not in town, I like to venture out.” My riding in town is usually to run errands or to commute. My pleasure riding is motorcycle touring, which can be defined as a form of tourism on a motorcycle designed for long-range riding. This can be done solo or with a group. Which is easier and which is better is all in one’s point of view.

Riding solo offers you solitude especially if you are riding to decompress and get away. I live in a house with 4 females, it’s nice to get away from drama. You also get to run on your own schedule and ride your own ride. You can stop and go when and where you want. You can pour on the miles or take your time. Riding 8 to 10 hours for me is not a problem. It’s easier to wing it and be flexible on routes and places to stay. You are in control of your budget and how much you spend along the way. When you are riding solo, you are viewed as more approachable and it is easier to interact with locals. Locals can fill you in on places to stop and see, and places that are just hype and not worth the time and money. Solo riding means freedom and exploration to most who do it. The counterpoint is that you need to have navigation skills, have the ability to be self-sufficient and have competency to do basic repairs on your motorcycle if needed.

When you’re riding in a group, a great benefit is the safety in numbers. As a group, you are more easily seen. If you have a breakdown, there are others to rely on for help. There is more security of your bike and gear because more eyes are looking out for the group. Group riding offers camaraderie. You are building memories and sharing experiences with others to always reminisce about later. Hey Larry, remember the time you rode Heidi’s bike the wrong way down 10th St. from Last Thursday?! These experiences may be stopping at a local attraction that you originally thought was lame, but later turns out to be very worthwhile. I.e. The F.A.S.T. fiberglass statue mold yard, or the Rock in the House. Group riding can also help share expenses, such as sharing a motel room. Group riding can allow you to relax a little more as decisions about routes, places to stop, and time schedules are made for you. On the flip side, if you are the leader all the responsibility and stress rests on your shoulders. You must have the logistics all planned out; you can’t wing it and show up at a motel or restaurant and expect there to be room for everyone. As the leader, you constantly worry about all the riders with you. Are you putting them in danger, or getting them separated from the group? Then there are the headaches that come with riders that complain about your decisions, but don’t have the guts to step up to the plate and be a leader themselves.

Some problems that come with group riding are proportionate to the number in the group. Getting everyone to get the same vacation days can be extremely difficult. Getting large groups to leave and arrive on time is usually wishful thinking, and pit stops take forever. The smaller the bathrooms, the longer you wait. The larger the group, the less miles that can be covered per day, because you will always ride slower as a group. Agreeing on stops and places to eat means losing some freedom and making concessions to fit the group as a whole. Large groups are usually shunned by locals. No matter how friendly your group appears, the outlaw biker group myth perseveres. Even if you are dressed in Aerostich suits and modular helmets. Large groups will always have riders with varied experience. The group will eventually press the inexperienced to ride beyond their limits or strain their stamina and an incident will occur, whether it is a simple tip over or a crash.

What is my favorite? Riding in small groups, such as two to four people. This gives you some of the benefits of solo and group riding. The trick is to find riders that have very similar likes, skills and traits as you, so when you do make compromises, they are not very different from your preferences. How do you find riders similar to you? Join clubs and forums that are centered around the bike you ride. Similar motorcycle styles do beget similar riding styles. Attend bike nights, and motorcycle shows. Take to social media and motorcycle apps. Try some group rides, like charity rides, that may be posted by your local dealer. Take a motorcycle safety course, basic or advanced. Simply put is to mingle, ask questions, make friends. My oldest daughter is mistaken when she says she has enough friends.

Everyone experiences life on this big blue marble differently. My goal is to get you and your friends to experience it on two wheels.



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