So had planned a lovely day out a while ago with a group of riders that I haven’t spent a lot of time out riding with.
Before the ride the Admin and owner of the Facebook group that I had become a member of wanted to go to the seaside and had chosen Hunstanton as the destination, I was asked if I could plan a route and lead the ride, I can only assume that they believed myself to be a competent rider that could safely get everyone to the destination, and also the group had 1 maybe 2 people riding on 125’s and L plates, not a problem to plan a route avoiding any motorways I can do that.
Not knowing how many of us could be going I did post to the group about using the corner man system to keep everyone moving and avoid stopping. Sounds like a good idea and that was that.
Late on the night before I received a message saying someone else was going to lead the ride and plan the route, fine not a problem I can enjoy myself, sit back look at the scenery, did I mention my wife was coming along as pillion too? we can have a nice chat on the intercom about the usual married stuff (all the married men. You know what I am talking about, all the single men you will find out).
So we arrive at the meeting point a little early and several bikers are present, I am then informed that the person leading can not find his satnav but has looked at the route, OK I said I am going to sit at the back anyway and can pick up any stragglers.
So eventually everyone is here and we set off, having already programmed my Satnav with the route we turn right instead of left and head off, no problem I remember saying to the wife as we will end up at the same point just the long way round.
After about 20 minutes riding we are on a dual carriageway all riding in single file all being good (we did have 2 125’s with us so speeding wasn’t going to be a concern).
We start gaining on a Waitrose HGV, no worries I am looking to pull out to allow the other in particular the 125’s a chance to overtake, but instead we slow down to a creeping 52mph, OK not the end of the world we are travelling at just above 50mph on a 70mph road, but remember I am sitting at the back!, now cars do not see motorbikes at the best of times but when travelling at around 70mph they are not expecting to gain on a group of 6 bikers at a great speed, after a few close calls and a slip road that a car had decided to force his way on in between the group of bikes I decided enough was enough, we may have 2 125’s with us but this is now getting dangerous and the smaller bikes can overtake a lorry at 52mph, so I move out overtake everyone and gesture to the lead rider that it might be a good idea to follow me (I was polite, honest).
so everyone follows me around and I gesture everyone past me and take up position at the back again and this time we are doing a comfortable 65-70mph, happy days.
It was not very long before I noticed the guy in front of me acting very strange, I mean in the sense of a panic, something had flown into his crash helmet and was making buzzing noises, now we all know that feeling of sheer panic we get from time to time but this is real, I know it has happened to me and scared the crap out of me.
So at the earliest opportunity he pulled into a lay by and I followed him in to make sure he was OK.
After a quick ripping off of the crash helmet and plenty of arm flapping we was back on our way, this person was on a 1000cc bike same as me so catching the group up was not going to pose a problem and we sent off.
We rounded a bend on the dual carriageway and to my surprise and astonishment and amazement to be honest there they all are parked at the side of a 70mph road, not in a lay by or anywhere safe but the side of the dual carriageway.
Yup unbelievable I know. we slowed down and thankfully the group caught us up and again I waved them all past and again took up position at the rear.
OK by this time I am starting to get concerned about the ride, nothing major but a few concerns about my safety that of my pillion and the other riders in the group, also that intercom was busy with wife chatter about how unsafe the last couple of incidents had been and how we need to do more shopping and something needs to be done about blah blah blah.
So we eventually stop at a McDonald’s and have an ice cream and a pee etc and the leader of the ride is busy looking at his phone and telling everyone we are nearly there and it is the A47 for the most of the way so it shouldn’t take us long. Now I am a forgiving man and I will always give someone a second chance so I decide not to say anything about the last couple of incident and to just try and enjoy the rest of the ride and see how things go, nobody is perfect right? we all make mistakes so we will just carry on and enjoy ourselves.
A little further into the ride we are all moving along nicely staying together and the intercom chatter is the usual stuff about look at that car etc, you know wife talk!
After several roundabout and a couple of winding roads we approach a large roundabout and according to the signpost it has 5 exits, I look see what exit we want (it is the 2nd) and we all start piling onto this very large roundabout with long slip roads, and we stop on the roundabout, yup on the roundabout to the left just before exit 1, now thinking someone has just had a problem as I am at the back I stick the hazard lights on and try and see what is going on ahead, the lead rider gets off his bike and walks back towards a couple of the riders behind him and… he has his phone in his hand… checking the map! I know right, just what you are thinking, not a lay by or quiet residential road to pull over on, a roundabout, nothing could possibly go wrong right? we thankfully nothing did go wrong, we all got going again and nobody died or was injured, thankfully.
Once we reached out destination and everyone had dismounted de-kitted and generally relaxed I did ask the question of what was you thinking about when you decided to follow a lorry along the dual carriageway, stop at the side of same said road, and of course the parking on the roundabout?, well apparently none of these things happened although others amongst us was equally unhappy with the ride as a whole, this being said me and the now furious wife went off on our own in search of food.
After a hearty meal and plenty of coffee we head back towards the bikes and a couple of the other riders are hanging around as apparently they are all heading back shortly.
I gave my excuses and let them know we are heading back on our own now and to say thank you to everyone.
Once we had returned home still thinking about the ride and the things that had happened I decided to have a little rant about it amongst the group that I belong to, now this group has some very experienced riders and some knew ones, but we all above everything else watch out for each other when we are out together, we can as you imagine spend a lot of hours riding together and a certain level of trust has built up amongst us, well they all felt the same as myself, these events should not happen and there are no excuses for it. end of discussion really NO EXCUSES for failing to keep yourself and others with you safe and not purposely put anyone in danger.
Well apparently there are excuses for these incidents and some of them never actually happened or was not as bad as I think they where, after all everyone made it home didn’t they, well everyone did but not together because after I left them they apparently lost 2 of the other riders at some stage, but that is OK, they just carried on.
During the fall out of my comments in a private group, this is the fun bit, I have been kicked out of the Facebook group that organised this ride and O dear unfriended by some of the members that made it home alive on that day, well am I gutted? upset? feel like I was treated unfairly?, no not really If you can not take any criticism and insist on lying about what actually happened so you do not feel bad, carry on, all I was offering was advice on how to keep yourself safer on the roads, not interested? fine carry on and hopefully you will never have an accident or get injured in any way, I seriously hope that is true because I do not want people to get hurt and it makes me angry when you would rather lie than admit you made a mistake.
Anyway this has rambled on a bit so I will leave it there and you can let me know what you think.
Incidentally I have been out on a few other rides recently and even lead a few of them myself and everyone had fun and nobody was put in any danger so it can be done.
Ride safe everybody and if you do not ride a motorcycle, just keep and eye out for us, we appreciate it.