How We Ride

With these admittedly anemically powered bikes there are some methods we’ve found to optimize the fun and improve safety. Please read and understand this information. If you don’t understand something ask us and we’ll explain it.

Follow the Leader—even though there is generally a ride leader he doesn’t always take the front of the pack. Frequently he will wave other riders past, allowing other people to take the front. If you choose to take the front there are some guidelines to follow. Keep an eye on who’s behind you. If you miss the turn and continue (this is called Craiging) we will stop, and generally wait for you to return (as long as you don’t take too long). If you come to an intersection pull over and let the group catch up. If the leader signs for you to slow please move back in line behind the leader. There are numerous reasons why this can occur, so please just follow direction.

Passing Cars—in the hills there are numerous turnouts. Turnouts are little mini pull offs that the slow cars are suppose to employ to allow the faster vehicles to pass. However, even though this is the law many drivers ignore the turnouts. Some on purpose, and many because of ignorance. A lot of riders will just cross the double yellow and pass these yahoos. This is against the law, but hardly anyone gets ticked for this behavior. The problem with this strategy is that it does create a potentially dangerous situation, and it doesn’t actually solve the problem because generally there is another slow car just beyond the one in front of you. Our solution? We pull over and wait. This clears out the road providing us with uninhibited fun, and at significantly increased safety. If you see the leader pull over do the same. Sometimes a rider will act as lookout at the rear of the group to signal when to go.

Overtaking other riders—generally this is okay, just make sure it’s safe to do so. If it looks unsafe then just wait for another opportunity. If you see that someone wants to pass you let them go by—this isn’t a race!

Ride at your own pace—if the group is riding at a pace for which you feel uncomfortable slow down to your own pace. The leaders will wait for you at intersections where we will turn, or pull off to gather up the group. This is very important to understand. If you ride beyond your level you are very likely to crash—these are very technical roads. Many of us know these roads giving us an advantage that you wont have at first. Take your time to learn the roads. Have fun, and keep it within your limits. Again this isn’t a race!

Hand signs—we use some simple hand signs to help communicate where the ride is going. Generally the leader will hand signal all turns. If you can tell that the riders behind you cannot see the leader then repeat the hand signs for their edification. Common signs are pointing to the left for a left turn. A right angle left arm out pointing up with a fist for a right turn. A right angle left arm pointing down with a palm facing to the rear is the signal to stop. A forty five degree left arm out means to slow—we use this frequently. An open palm facing down and waving up and down means slow down and get behind the leader. The left arm out at a 90 degree angel palm faced forward waving means to pass the rider in front. A foot pointing will mean watch out for the hazard in the direction of the pointing toe, but it might also mean that the rider in front is moving in that direction—let them take the lane for there could be an obstacle you cannot see that needs avoidance. Tapping on the helmet means that there is an officer sighted and it’s time to be on your best behavior. You’ll sometimes see this from riders coming from the opposite direction. Pointing at the gas tank means low on fuel.

Lane Sharing—we do this a lot, and aggressively. In California there are no laws prohibiting lane sharing which is sometimes called filtering, or lane splitting. We use the term sharing because it is more politically astute. If you haven’t lane shared watch how we do it and copy us. We are good at it, and very much know what we are doing. You will see us share on the left, share on the right, and share in the middle of two cars. What you wont see us do is ride to the right of a white line because this is illegal and it will get you a ticket. You also wont see us ride in a separately marked bicycle lane for this too is illegal and will get you a ticket. If you are in front when you get to the front of stopped cars create room for the riders following you to pull up too. When filtering keep your speed differential to around 5 mph. Any faster than that can cause issues. We generally wont share with cars going more than 10 or 15 mph. Most of the times that we share are at stop lights, and stop signs when the cars are not moving.

Bicycles—a lot of bicycles ride these roads too. Treat them with a lot of respect. It is the law in CA that you must give them three feet (a yard/meter) of room when you pass them. We also like to make sure that the speed differential is low, something around 5-10mph. Also, be nice—revving your engine at a bicyclist is a total dick move. I don’t want to see any of you pulling that kind of shit. Same for honking your horn at them—that’s not cool.

Hold your lane—when you are riding with a group it is very important that you hold your lane. The more predictable you ride the safer everyone will be when we ride together. It is very difficult to ride with someone that’s all over the lane. If you ride this way then do so at the back of the group. Riding all over the lane in the front is considered hazardous. Usually if you are riding this way it is because you are riding over your head. The solution is to slow down, and ride at your own pace.

Tip Top Condition—it’s very important that your bike be in tip top condition. Especially the brakes and tires. If you have questionable brakes fix them. If you have leaky fork seals fix them. If you have fully treaded tires that are twelve years old replace them. These are safety issues. Keep your chain properly adjusted and lubed. Keep your tires properly inflated, and the bike in good working order.

Gear—most of us ride in full leather with expensive full face helmets. Even at the relatively slower speeds these bikes travel compared to larger bikes it is still possible to get hurt. If you come off the bike it’s going to hurt. Mitigate this pain by wearing proper gear. If you need help getting gear let us know and we will help you. Some examples of bad gear include anything that looks like jeans, pads over jeans—even kevlar jeans—these do not adequately protect you. Anything that looks even vaguely like a tennis shoe will not protect you. Get proper motorcycle boots with good ankle protection. Open face helmets wont protect you in nearly 80% of the typical crashes. Modular helmets are open face helmets that are pretending to be full face—they are unsafe. Wear a good full face helmet (on your head). If you have any gear questions ask us and we will help you get some proper gear. There are lots of good used options around, and we know many of the stores in town where you can get hooked up.

About the author: toratora