Riding with ZKMC

Whether you're a new rider or an old veteran, please take a moment to read over this brief primer on riding with ZKMC. Everyone rides differently as individuals and as groups, so as a matter of introduction this page exists to explain what you might expect if you're going to ride with us, just so we're all on the same page.

We're really not into rules and regulations, but take the following suggestions into consideration.

Before the ride:
  • Come prepared.
    • Need gas? snacks? air in your tires? Arrive ready to roll, or early enough to get that out of the way. Many of our rides start at a service station for just this reason. Leave yourself enough time to get what you need so we can all roll on schedule. We're not overly obsessed with punctuality however people have busy lives to schedule around and some of them may decide to join or not join a ride based on the expected return time. Getting started on time helps that work out.

      Many of our ride invitations do not include a meet up time, but instead include a 'kickstands up' time. If a ride time is listed that way, it means that is the time we expect to be on the road. That is not the time you should be arriving, if you still want to get coffee and doughnuts.

  • Keep in touch.
    • If you are going to be late, let us know so we can wait for you. Or, if you can't make it and we're expecting you, let us know not to wait. When anyone organizes a ride we usually provide our cell#, so give us a shout, or send us a text.

  • Get informed
    • You don't need to know the whole route if you're not leading, but it's good to find out who does know the route, or some milestone points incase you get seperated. If it's a big group we try to have more than one leader, so we can break into more manageable groups. If you don't have a map, and don't want to be bothered, make sure who ever you decide to follow knows whats going on.
      Often a ride leader will send out a link to the route they plan to take. If you have a smart phone or GPS it might be wise to save this information to your device. Or print it out and bring a copy. Or at least look it over and learn the gist of it. This may be more effective than showing up in the morning and asking 'what's the route?' when the group is about to leave.

On the Ride:
  • Stay together and spread out.
    • It's important to keep an eye on each other to keep from getting separated too drastically, but don't worry about it too much if it is going to cause a problem. There is no need make a dangerous pass or risk a speeding ticket just to catch up.

  • Strength in Numbers
    • Motorcycles are always in danger of not being seen. A Posse of us makes us more visible. Use lane positioning to make space cushions and stake a claim on road realestate for the group- especially useful on multilane highways.

    • Run interference: If you see the rider ahead of you put her blinker on, make a head check and make the lane change before she does. If the last bike in line moves over and blocks the lane, then the bikes ahead can all take the lane with ease, and without a car slipping inbetween the group.

  • Posse Up
    • We generally ride staggered, left-right-left-right in the lane, rather than 2 abreast for safety. This gives you a full lane width for swerving, and 2 bikes worth of space cushion to the bike ahead in your half of the lane.
    • When coming to stops its best to compress to two abreast. Remember that you are still two vehicles, and if you are at a stop sign technically each of you must stop and go seperately. We frequently go 2 at a time if John Q. Law is not watching, but be aware that it is generally illegal to do so.

  • Lead Sensibly
    • If you're in the lead, you are not only responsible for finding the way home, but by and large you also set the tone of the ride. When approaching an intersection, check the pedestrian crossing signs to see if the light may be about to change. Take into account whether you can get your whole string of ducklings through the light without putting the last rider in a position of having to run a red light in order to keep up. Granted, that choice is on them, but if they don't have to make it, all the better.

      When you take off from a fuel stop, be aware of your speed and the size of your posse. If you take off very fast, in the time it takes rider # 2 to move to the curb, check traffic, and take off, then rider #4, then rider #6, etc, you can be quite a ways down the road. Even if the group is comfortable riding at 70mph, the last rider is going to have to go 85 or 90 to catch you. Conditions certainly may allow for this, but it is important to be aware of the affect your lead riding has on those who are trying to follow you. Also, if you are in an area where your route takes some turns, you may well lose your followers if they can't see where you turned. Consider starting out at a slower speed than the eventual pace you may establish, wait until the group has begun to reform on the road, and then take it up to cruising speed.

  • You are always leading

    • Even if you're not the leader of the ride, you need to take some responsibilty for keeping an eye on the person behind you. This is especially true in a group of 5 or more. In those numbers, the leader cannot differentiate all the headlights in their mirrors and keep an accurate count to be sure if anyone has been lost. This becomes even more important if you're the second to last rider. Even if the last rider is a seasoned sweeper, and knows the route etc, you still need to check on them. If they have a mechanical failure and pull over, the leader may have no idea. If you pull over to help, at least there are two of you, and hopefully the 3rd from the last person sees YOU pull over, and so do they, and it cascades on up the column. Another way to take control of the situation, if you are comfortable with it, is to speed up and overtake the group, and signal to the leader to pull over so people can figure out what needs to be dealt with.

  • Follow sensibly
    • If you're following someone you've never ridden with before, give them extra space. Take a few minutes to see how they ride; see if they brake early or late in corners. See of they follow the race line, or stay staggered through a corner. Getting familliar with how the person ahead of you rides and giving them the space to safely ride how ever they like, will keep you both safe.
    • Don't crowd someone who may not expect you to be in their blindspot. And don't pass someone in their own lane. Give them the respect you would give to someone you didn't know.
    • Don't dissapear
      While there is no need for you to keep up with the person ahead of you to stay in the group (see Ride your own ride, below), if you are planning to deviate from the route or the ride, let someone know. If you decide to take a different route home, tell someone. If we notice you're gone for too long, we're going to come looking for you. Your earlier departure or alternate street choice could lead to the whole group being delayed while they try and figure out if something unfortunate happened to you or not.

  • Communicate! If you have problems, needs, or warnings while on the ride, it is possible to communicate without radios. Some basic signals we use:

    • Thumbs up/down. I'm ready to roll/not ready to go. If the leader gives you the thumbs up, he's checking to make sure everyone is ready before taking off. If you aren't, let him know so you don't get left behind.

    • Five-OH!. A pat to the top of the helmet means the police have been spotted. Watch your speed, watch your posture... you know, fly casually.
      -- Also a whirling finger over the head to mimic a police flasher is used for this at times.

    • Sloooow. If you see a hand down low like patting the head of a child, slow down. Someone has spotted some reason to really mind your speed more than just seeing someones brake-lights would suggest.

    • Watch it. If you see someone point downward with a hand, or often a foot, they are pointing out a pot-hole, gravel patch, dead animal, copper-mine, or other feature they feel you might like to know is coming up and should be avoided. Pass it on.

    • Apres Vous!. If someone pulls over and waves forward, they are offering you the lead, or the next position forward. Maybe its a nice stretch of road and they want you to be able to experience it first. Or maybe they want to drop back and look at everyone's butt for a while.

    • Pull over! Either a finger pointing off the road, or pointing at one's gas tank tells the leader that you need to stop for fuel, or otherwise need to get off the road. If its an emergency, don't worry about being too clear, just go, and we'll figure it out.

  • Ride your own ride.

    • This is the most general guideline, but one of the most important. We all ride differently, and have different comfort levels and skill levels. We've also all chosen to participate in a dangerous activity.

      Don't let someone else dictate your ride. Yes, it's important to not get too separated. Yes, it's easy to get caught up in feeling you have to be as fast/good/leaned over as the next person. But this is not the case, you don't. Be honest with yourself and one another. If you aren't as zippy in the corners as other riders, don't worry. Ride at a pace that is fun, comfortable, and safe for you.
      If we get out ahead, we won't make any turns that will leave you lost. We'll wait for you. There is no reason to take a turn faster than your skill level, or to make a dangerous pass just to keep up. Similarly if you find your self behind someone who is going slower than you, don't crowd them and make them nervous. Either pass cleanly and quickly and give them their space, or drop back a ways and give yourself room to accelerate again when you reach the next corner. It can be useful to work on technique in these situations, once you take the focus off of speed. Set up for every corner textbook perfect, work on relaxing, counter steering, your throttle timing.. stuff you don't always spend time paying attention to when you're barrelling through the chicanes as fast as you can hold on. See if you've developed any dumb habits in your posture or anything.

      Knowing and being comfortable with who you're riding with, their style and pace, and knowing the route and what to expect as far as roads that may push your skill levels, and map-points and milestones takes a lot of worrying and concern out of the equation, and leaves you free to just ride.

      Duae Rotae Optimae

      -Team ZK.