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Group Routing

Keeping the Troops Together

It happened again. Lightning and I attempted to make a 3 day trip from Seattle to the Columbia River Gorge twice now. Every time we leave something gets screwed up, I wind up in the Gorge and Lightning winds up back home in Seattle.

Lightning and I like to go out on rides together. The thing is that Lightning likes to maintain an average speed of about 85mph on the open road. I, on the other hand, stay closer to the legal speed limit. Since Lightning likes a longer break with a stiff cup of coffee and a cigarette about every hour, we just choose a town an hour away and agree to meet up there. That works great unless Lightning doesn't consult his map and winds up heading east instead of west.

Group riding is a lot more fun when the group is spread out. It's also safer and there's less peer pressure on riders who feel they have to 'perform' just so when riding tightly in a pack formation. For me, the best group riding is when I can't see the group until the next stop. But as you can see by the above-mentioned dilemma, group rides can get botched and people can wind up in the State Patrol's missing persons files by the end of the day.

Here's five ways to keep your long-range group ride on track, regardless of where the riders spread out.

1. Prior to heading out, use mapping software to pre-determine the route. Such software is readily available from Microsoft, Rand McNally and Delorme for around under $50. Print out copies for each rider and include both the map printouts and the written directions sheets.

2. Prior to leaving, pass out the route sheets to each rider. Discuss likely gas, food and break stops along the way. Be sure to point out if there are long stretches with little chance for fueling up, so that everyone gasses up and pees in anticipation of these lengths.

3. Everyone with a cell phone should exchange their cell numbers so that the line of communication is open in the event that a rider winds up MIA. You can simply write them down on the back of the route sheets.

4. Obviously in many rural and wilderness areas there are no cell phone carriers. Prior to the ride everyone should take down two appointed group members home phone numbers equipped with answering devices. That way calls can be made to a central number from a pay phone if need be. Again, write the numbers down on the backside of the route sheet.

5. Regroup at each designated stop before heading out on the next leg.

PT/Fall 02


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