A ride always has a leader / point / captain. In bigger or more organised rides there is also someone appointed to ride last in the group
Before the ride:
There are a few things that you must know and do before joining a group ride.
The most important thing is to contact the ride captain and ask him/her the maximum speed the ride is going to be to ensure that you will be riding within your capabilities. Also ensure that your bike is more or less equal in performance to the majority of the other bikes going along.
Ascertain the distance of the ride, the type of roads you will be travelling and the type of restaurants you may stop off at. This will also ensure that you take sufficient money with you.
There could be a thousand reasons why you may get separated from the group. This could be a problem if you do not know the area and therefore take a road map along with you.
Arrive at the rendezvous point with a full tank of petrol, oil and tyres checked (or simply meet at a petrol station)
Introduce yourself to the captain and find out where and when he intends stopping for fuel along the route. This is important if your bike has a smaller tank which is information he needs to know.
During the ride:
Do not fiddle with your helmet, gloves, mirrors etc until the group is moving smoothly through straight unobstructed roadside. Accidents happen during the first few minutes before all the riders have settled.
Make sure that you are no further than three bikes from the front of the group. If the captain himself is inexperienced there could be a lot of ‘concertina-type’ action at the end of the group which you do not want to be part of.
In a country that rides on the left hand side of the road the group should ride in the following formation in towns and when travelling under 100kph. This keeps the group together but maintains safe following distances. The captain (point) naturally rides up front while the last biker probably has special duties that vary from ride to ride, club to club.
Over 100kph and on twisty roads the formation must become a straight line with one bike directly behind the other with the usual 2 sec following distance.
A lot of accidents occur at robots when one rider stops suddenly while the rider behind him wants to go through the intersection. Ask the ride captain what the robot policy for the ride is
If the rider in front of you pulls off, do not follow suit. Stick with the captain and allow the more experienced riders to follow the predetermined procedures (if any)
Watch your following distance especially at intersections. Do not go through an intersection until you are sure that the rider in front of you is not going to stop. If you have a crazy rider behind you consider going through the (almost) red robot rather than have him slam into the back of you when you try to stop.
Accelerate through and beyond a slow moving vehicle (or red robot) – do not ease off the gas once through as the guy behind you may still be gassing it and needs the space your speed is creating.
If the ride becomes more stressful than fun, gracefully drop out. These are your bones that are at stake!