Annual Gathering Lessons


Reports and stories from trips, planning of gatherings, questions about how to get there!
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BlueThunder
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Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by BlueThunder »



In an effort to make subsequent Gatherings better, I am starting this thread. Each Gathering gets better as we learn lessons from the rides.
This year (3rd) we broke the attendees into three groups, making them more manageable. Having a group spread out over a mile made it difficult to keep everyone together. For the 3rd Gathering, breaking into three groups of 10 made the rides manageable and more enjoyable.

Communications between the leader and sweeper (the guy at the end) of a group continues to be problematic. One, the leader and sweeper must have a means to communicate (i.e. Cardo, Sena, CB, etc.). Cardo seems to be common amongst our group and worked well on straight aways. Unfortunately, the aforementioned methods of communications become spotty when riding in mountainous regions. I don't know how to get around this limitation. A suggestion was made that a third person, in the middle of the group, can act as a relay, if necessary. This too has the same limitation of "line of sight" communications.

Corky suggested using CB radios as they are more powerful and perhaps can lessen the problem riding in a mountainous region. I see two issues: (1). The cost of a CB for motorcycle use is quite high compared to a Cardo or Sena system. Not everyone has one. To ask 6 (or 9) people to purchase CB radios is a bit much (assuming three groups with a leader, sweeper and a relayer). And (2), CB still suffers from the "line of sight" limitation. Granted with the higher power of a CB it might not be as great of a problem but it does suffer from this limitation. Additionally, pairing a CB to a headset via Bluetooth may be problematic and incurs an additional expense.

So, if you have any suggestions on how to improve the Gathering rides, please feel to post. I can't guarantee that every suggestion will be adopted but will be given serious consideration.


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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by AZgl1800 »

I will not ride in a group larger than 6 bikes.

Even that causes problems when the leader does not respect the need of the guys behind him to be able to zip around a slow vehicle on the Double Yellow.... Yup, last summer, that happened, and I took the very next turn back to the hotel and left the group.

We had trouble initially because the leader would not listen to the group, we all were accustomed to using channel 5.... nope, he wanted channel 1 and off he went. It took a while for us to figure that one out, and shortly after that the Double Yellow occurred and I left the group.

The leader needs to LISTEN to Tail End Charlie, until he hears "We all made the Red Light".
He needs to pull over somewhere and let the group wait for the 5 minutes or more to clear that light.
Nope, this leader just kept right on zooming down the road....

Just saying you need 3 groups is not enough, there needs to be a limit on the group size.
And in my experience, more than 6 gets bad really quick.
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by BlueThunder »

I just to make it clear that AZ is referring to a ride during the summer and not the Gathering. We didn't have CBs for the leader and sweeper.

He does however make some very good points. That is why before a group leaves, leaders spend a few minutes going over safety rules, what to expect and routes including rest/fuel stops. The leader who rides fast leading a slow group is not a leader. The leader must set the tone for the ride and stress that the ride is supposed to be fun (but safe).

I prefer a group no larger than 8 but sometimes additional riders need to be included.
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by sportsfreaked »

As someone who leads and rides in large groups there are things that work well that we have used for years with no issues.
1. Communication before the ride starts is a must with the group. Know the route you are going and expectations for the group as far as distance between bikes,speed,hand signals etc. The more communication the better.

2. CBs are the only way to communicate unfortunately. The leader needs one and the tail gunner needs one. These are the only reliable forms and must be installed on bike. Handhelds don't work that well and have limitations like a Cena etc.

3. Ride tight. I know people will say no way but it's the only way. By keeping 2 second interval between bikes riding stagared makes you more visible and prevents or deters cars from cutting in. If you are strune out with large gaps invites cars to cut in and makes you less visible. As long as all riders pay attention it's very safe. Never in 15 years have we had an accident resulting in injury. The key is to stay focused on the bikes in front of you.
Thanks to all who answer and help. It is greatly appreciated!
Ed

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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by Wingsconsin »

Having attended and hosted (Traveling Picnic) I can give some of my insights into this challenge --

At the picnic we generally have a conversation about SKILL level -
We break into a few groups according to ability -

The Aggressive Fast group - riding at speeds exceeding the posted limits - peg scrappers ? This is your group
The Medium group - riding generally quickly but not really pounding the road - Peg scrapping ? This group says that is a signal your going too fast
The Relaxed group - typically 2-up ; a bit slower ; not really looking to ride EVERY curve in the area in one day -
The Flower Sniffers - this group takes frequent breaks - a leader might have a few planned stops for pictures, water, bathrooms, etc.

It is time to be honest with your self !

I am usually the slowest of the really fast group - or the fastest in the Medium group -
I am ok with either one - depending on my mood (and hangover ratio that day) ;)

SMALL GROUPS is KEY - 6-8 bikes MAX - keep everyone nearly in sight - ride as tightly as comfortable and safe -

The conversation is for everyone to BE SAFE - BE CAREFUL -

We DID have one wreck a couple of years ago - an ambulance ride and some broken bones --
it was NOT FUN for anyone - the incident put a damper on the festivities - fortunately the rider was OK after several weeks of rehab and healing (and repairs)

CB radio seems to the most common among the Goldwing crowd and we try to place a tail gunner and a leader who have one - everyone in between can relay instruction too.

If the group gets strung out -- if the group makes a turn and the bike behind is not in sight the last bike (the one right in front of the MIA bike)
HAS to wait at the turn -- eventually the group will all be stopped at a turn waiting for the rear to catch the front - slinky like --

Leaders should pull out from a stop and NOT ACCELERATE much until the group is around the turn -
by waiting a little the group can avoid the Yo-Yo effect which causes the rear to ride a LOT FASTER than the front as they try to catch up.


Postings are my opinions based on experience and acquired knowledge.
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by BlueThunder »

Another area that had some confusion was GPS.

Routes were generated using Kurviger. I found Basecamp and MapQuest to be too difficult to use and a general pain in the ass, especially when a simple route is to be made. Kurviger is browser based and very easy to use. It generates standard GPX files for use in Garmin, Scenic, Google, etc. GPses.

The problem is that every make of GPS has its own logic in calculating the routing, resulting in a slight deviation from the planned route. I can put up-to 75 waypoints (for Garmin devices) to "force" the device to follow a specific route. Honda GPS devices have a limitation of 25 waypoints. I use a Garmin Zumo 665 which follows my Kurviger generated route correctly. However, it has been observed that different Garmin models, mobile phones and other GPS devices deviate from the planned route. The GPS does hit the waypoints but a slightly different route.

The cure? Everyone use the same model GPS :shock: ... not going to happen!
The answer is that the leader and sweep (tail gunner) use the same model of GPS when possible.

But is it really a problem? If the leader follows responsible "rules" in keeping a group together, and the sweeper does their "job", then no one should be left behind. The only issue is that those in the group who want to "follow along" with their GPSs. Two groups, even if the leaders use different model of GPS and have deviations from the planned route, will eventually meet up on a waypoint, midpoint or destination. The two groups won't be travelling together. In fact, one of the groups could do the route in reverse and meet at a predetermined spot (i.e. at a lunch location).

So is this really a problem??
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by dalebratton »

There are limitations to all the varieties of communication types....CB, Bluetooth. But I have discovered a simple and l-o-o-n-n-g-g distance method of communication utilizing the cellular network. It's limitation, of course, is that "sender and receiver" must be in range of a cellular tower. The system is made by Midland and is called BTTalk. The phone app is available for Apple and Android and is free. Download it on a couple of phones and you see how easy it is to use. Now to use on a motorcycle, you need to buy the BTTalk push-to-talk button that bluetooth connects to your phone (and thus your phone to your headset). I haven't used it on bike trips because no one wants to buy the push to talk button which was then $99. Having just checked, I see it on the Midland site for 49 Euros...a little cheaper. https://www.midlandeurope.com/en/p/btt- ... e-ptt.html

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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by offcenter »

Well that's great....IF you have a cell phone.
I don't, and I'm not about to get one....unless you or someone else is paying the bill.
We are Goldwing people, and MOST Goldwings came with a CB already mounted.
I know mine did.
I ride with a local bike club here in Jersey and most of us have CBs.
We are always on the radio chattering with each other, and it
works great for keeping out group together on the road.
George in Jersey.
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by dalebratton »

Well, OK then. You are in a small percentage but if that makes you happy then you have my support! If you ever do a solo ride, you might want to rethink that position. Just sayin’.

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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by Wingsconsin »

The cheapest thing on a Goldwing is the rider


:geek:

Munk's Maxim states -- "There is no such thing as a cheap motorcycle"

My Goldwing did not come with a CB -
Knowing that CB is the typical and usual way Goldwing riders communicate I bought one and installed it.
My Suzuki GS850 group uses Sena systems to communicate - I bought another helmet and installed a Sena 20S -

The corded system has better sound - ;)
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by BlueThunder »

offcenter wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:19 pm
Well that's great....IF you have a cell phone.
I don't, and I'm not about to get one....unless you or someone else is paying the bill.
We are Goldwing people, and MOST Goldwings came with a CB already mounted.
I know mine did.
I ride with a local bike club here in Jersey and most of us have CBs.
We are always on the radio chattering with each other, and it
works great for keeping out group together on the road.
CBs work great in New Jersey and many other "flatter" states. In the windy mountain roads, such as in WV, NC, TN (and others), CBs have the same limitations as Cardo systems. The Midland option seems intriguing and worthy of further investigations. The obvious problem however is that on many of the mountain roads (as in many spots on the BRP), cell service is non-existent. I'm beginning to think that there is no ONE option that will solve all of the issues.
Last edited by BlueThunder on Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by dalebratton »

I agree bluethunder. I guess we are left to choose based on where we are and make the best of it. Cellular is just another option for us.

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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by Wingsconsin »

Any communication system will be limited in the mountains -
Keeping a SMALLER group will mitigate many of those issues as the group could stay tighter together and not out-range themselves
Once the line of riders stretches out a few miles -- no hope to keep the tail with the lead .
I prefer a smaller group anyway - but some like these long trains of riders -- :ugeek:
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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by Corkster52 »

Wingsconsin wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:38 am
the group could stay tighter together and not out-range themselves
Once the line of riders stretches out a few miles -- no hope to keep the tail with the lead .
Staying tighter sounds like a good idea in general. Maybe a discussion with the entire group as we get started on our first day and reemphasized in the smaller groups as we get ready to ride. If, for some reason, we get more strung out more than we would prefer, have a chat as the next rest/gas/food stop.

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Re: Annual Gathering Lessons

Post by Wingsconsin »

Corkster52 wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:47 am
Wingsconsin wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:38 am
the group could stay tighter together and not out-range themselves
Once the line of riders stretches out a few miles -- no hope to keep the tail with the lead .
Staying tighter sounds like a good idea in general. Maybe a discussion with the entire group as we get started on our first day and reemphasized in the smaller groups as we get ready to ride. If, for some reason, we get more strung out more than we would prefer, have a chat as the next rest/gas/food stop.
From my experience it is important for those of similar skill level to ride together --

Quicker with quicker
Slow with slow

an HONEST evaluation of ones ability and willingness to ride WITH the group is needed

FOR ME --
I am the slowest of the fast group
and
The fastest of the slow group

So when I choose I need to think about how I want to ride that day ---
Trying to keep up ? Or willing to wait a bit...

Different days find me doing different rides ;)



Postings are my opinions based on experience and acquired knowledge.
Your results may vary. Universal disclaimers apply.


Motorcycle Adventure Storys
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