Meridian H.O.G. ride outs -
an explanation for new riders to the group
It is quite normal for there to be anywhere between 30-100+ bikes on each official ride and the group undertakes these rides to have an enjoyable day out keeping the safety of all participants in mind.
Each run appears with a date and a brief explanation on the Meridian calendar, each ride has a designated road captain as the ride leader and another one as last man (the back of the group riding formation) - everyone else is in between these two officials.
Important information: New riders to the group must download the enrolment form and release (see below) complete the fields, print out, sign and return to:
Meridian H.O.G. Chapter (No.6726)
c/o Warr’s Harley-Davidson
611 King’s Rd
London SW6 2EL.
All riders must have filled in and had accepted a Chapter enrolment form and release prior to taking part in the Chapter ride.
Meridian have a saying, ‘no briefing - no ride’. In other words if you are not on time for the briefing then you cannot participate in the event. So set that alarm clock early to avoid dissapointment.
The object of the briefing is to give an outline of the day ahead and would typically include such information as who is leading, who is last man, any roving marshalls, fuel stops, rest breaks (if any), tricky route information such as ‘we will turn off the M4 at junction 8’, mileage expected and the ultimate destination.
Typically a large percentage of those riders present will know all about the group riding style but still need the actual ride detail. Part of the ride briefing is establishing who is a new rider to the group so that we may emphasise our procedures to make your day out go well.
Route marking (Drop-off System)
This is the normal Meridian H.O.G. method of route marking and is designed so that all riders who start a ride will finish it at the correct location without the need for always being able to see the rider ahead of you.
The Ride Leader will, on approach to a drop-off position, raise their hand (usually left) to their helmet. This is the warning to the following riders that the second rider in the group (Pathfinder) is about to be dropped-off to mark the route. The Ride Leader will then point to the exact position they would prefer the drop-off to stop. Following riders do not need to change file as riders are dropped-off.
Please remember our Ride Leaders are trained to place the drop-offs in a safe but visible position; However, your safety is ultimately your responsibility. If you are not happy to stop where indicated, please stop as soon as it is safe to do so, and, if necessary, return on foot to mark the turn.
Trikes will be dropped-off, where possible, on straight roads where the group can pass them safely.
Ensure when stopping to mark a drop-off that your indicators, when stopped, are cancelled, especially if marking a right turn. Look back and use hand signals to indicate the route to the group. Do not dismount and be ready to depart when the Last Man comes into view.
Please do NOT leave the designated drop-off until the Last Man (remember, they’re the rider in the high-visibility vest) passes you or indicates for you to rejoin the group.
No other individual is authorised to pick up drop-offs so please make sure you recognise the Last Man on each ride. We use the Drop-off System because the group will inevitably be split, sometimes several times and very occasionally by up to 20 minutes on a long or complicated run. Just because you can’t see riders following you it does not mean they are not there - they will be along shortly.
If this is your first Meridian ride it may be beneficial to start near the rear of the group so that you can see how the drop off system leaves a clear trail advising the route ahead.
Do NOT overtake other bikes in the group unless waved through or directed by a Ride Official.
When overtaking vehicles not in the group you must exercise caution and remember that you are totally responsible for your safety at all times.
If you can see that your own ride pace is lower than others in the group it may be helpful if you keep left and wave other riders through.
Roving Marshals: their job is to keep the Ride Leader informed of the overall progress and any extraordinary issues during the ride. The Roving Marshal will wear high-visibility Chapter vests and are used on complex rides. Use your mirrors please, and be aware that they may be coming up on your offside - don’t be surprised by this.
Trikes: it will be helpful if trike owners wave riders through if they are holding up the group on a particular stretch. This may be of importance if, for instance, any filtering is taking place.
Leaving the group before the destination
Should you wish to leave the ride, and in order that the rest of the group doesn’t follow you home..., pull over to the side of the road indicating the following riders to pass you. Wait until the Last Man reaches you and indicate that you intend to leave the ride by putting your forearm and open palm, face down, just below your chin (the cut-throat sign). The Last Man will acknowledge you and ride on without stopping. Whenever possible inform both the Ride Leader & Last Man before starting out that you intend to leave the ride at some point - an easy place to do this is the typical half way rest stop.
Meridian H.O.G. uses a pattern for group riding based on keeping the group safe and taking up the least amount of space possible. These diagrams explain particular positions within a group ride.
And lastly... The above might all sound a bit heavy at first but in fact it's all designed to make your day fun and safe. Once you've taken part in one of our rides you'll realise how much fun it is, how simple it was to take part in and how great it was to meet like minded two wheel enthusiasts.
Above all else WE RIDE TO HAVE FUN!
With thanks to Nick Deal – Chelsea & Fulham H.O.G Safety Officer
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