View Full Version : SMR Safety: Volunteers & Ideas

September 18th, 2001, 09:47 AM
I want to start a new thread, and open up discussions to folks that are riding (or have ridden) regularly in SMRs.

Please refrain from posting comments that do not offer solutions; if you feel the need to ventilate/complain, there are other more appropriate topics where one can exercise the bill of rights.

First of all, SMR safety has been an issue for some time in our chapter. Can we do something to make the SMRs 100% safe? No way, riding a motorcycle has an element of risk which can never be removed. Can we improve safety? Certainly.

The last incident does not sound -- from the first hand accounts communicated to me -- like a rider in over her head or riding beyond her skills. However, in the past, riding over ones head has usually been the case of a single bike accident.

There are a lot of excellent ideas running around, Ed Walker pulled together many of them in his post (A/B groups + Ride Mentors). We can discuss this stuff until we're blue in the face, but we need PEOPLE to pull this off.

So, what I'd like to see is this: We need volunteers that want to give back to the TSBA that can help coordinate the Ride Mentors and take charge of our rides. What I don't want to see is the same folks week in week out performing these tasks.

Specifically, the duties involved would be:

Ride Leader
This person charts out the route and gets the group from point A to point B.

Ride Marshall
This person is responsible for seeking out the newbies at the meeting place and assigning them to a Mentor. This person would also give The Pace speech before the ride.

Ride Mentor
This volunteer would give their time to help a new rider (or new to the group, etc) get acquainted with the people and the vibe of our group. The mentor would ride with the new member/rider either in the back of the pack or the B group.

All of these positions could rotate so as not to place any undue burden on the same people week in and week out.

NONE of these positions require vast experience as a rider, and don't imply a particular skill level -- just a willingness to help out your fellow sport biker.

Mike LaPonte will be acting as a focal point for gathering volunteer names. Please contact him @ yellowducati900ss@yahoo.com or Home (after 6pm on some nights): 972-612-3980

After we've had time to discuss things in this public forum, let's get together and go over the ideas in person.

Thanks to all the folks that have already offered to help, that's the spirit of the TSBA that I dig the most.

Steve Breen
TSBA DFW Chapter Pres

[ September 18, 2001: Message edited by: breeno ]

September 18th, 2001, 11:15 AM
Couple of thoughts - summary is at the end of post for the busy and/or ADD among us. First of all I definitely think that someone specific at each SMR should take on the duties Breen described as a Ride Marshall. If it is just sorta understood that someone will say a few words to the new folks, it will certainly fall by the wayside after a few rides. I have no problem doing this when I attend, but I don't attend SMR's more than every six weeks or so. The truth is I'm a raging alcoholic and usually spend Sunday mornings looking for Advil and wondering if a **** cat **** in my mouth. Before leaving the rally point, someone should be designated to pull EVERYONE together (including the three stragglers still topping off their tanks across the street) and give a short statement. Maybe mention corner speeds? It is one thing for a ride marshall to say fast, slow or group pace or ride your own pace, etc. But, what does this mean to someone not used to our style of group riding? I don't want to advocate staring at your speedometer all day, but maybe some expectations should be set in the Ride Marshall speech. Explain that the leaders will be doing double+10 or double+20 the posted curve warning speeds. Back of the pack I would guess to be double-15. I'm not the fastest rider, but know from solo rides that I feel comfortable up to about double and then I start to get nervous. I can see a downside to this as well - obviously road and weather conditions, type of bike, tires, etc. all play a part so putting a number on it may not be perfect??? Mention the fact that we are often lead by guys on bikes other than the latest and biggest. Try to downplay the ego factor by pointing out "in the real world, a good rider on a sport touring BMW can beat or at the least keep up with an average rider on the latest liter bike." We are not at racetrack pace nor do we test the top speed on every straight away (a couple of you can exclude yourselves from the last statement) so there should be no problems with a halfway decent rider keeping within a minute or two. I think a short bike inspection might clue a ride marshall/mentor into things to watch for in a newbie. Rather than just asking who's new or what they ride, walk over and look. You don't have to say it's an inspection, just show some interest in their scoot (and look for obvious safety issues or clues to their riding style/choices/ability while you're at it). Example, a rider we don't know shows up on 1998 CBR 1100XX with 48000 miles on the clock, corbin seat w/ backrest, heli bars, GPS and Valentine1 mounted on fairing brackets what do you tell him? What about a 22 year old with a two month old GSXR750, No Fear stickers, turn signals and mirrors removed? Call it stereotyping if you will, but stereotypes come into being for a reason. With some watchful awareness and standard pre-ride advice, we should be able to up the safety level to a point where we feel like we did what we should - and if they wreck it really is entirely their fault - without sacrificing the fun factor or squidly freedom that we are all there for.

So, after all my yapping and weighing human heads and all:
Ride Marshall - Good idea, we need to work up list of topics to be covered in pre-ride speech and then it can be delivered by any of a number of people who happen to be there
Ride Mentor - Good idea, but who? and how? Perhaps too structured (to the point of buzz-kill???).
A/B Groups - been there, done that. Good idea in theory. Difficult to implement intentionally, but happens to some extent as it is. Maybe we can just call it an A and B group in the ride speech but keep the groups more or less together?? Have a kind of Lead Backmarker that new riders have to stay behind and who limits his corner speed to double-10.

My 2 cents...er...bucks is more like it.

September 18th, 2001, 12:18 PM
Good ideas. Definately.

So an example of what I can see happening (and not being so difficult nobody wants to do it).

Ride Leader desides on route. He gives a speach about where we're going, where we're stopping etc. He doesn't have to worry about newbies, etc. He has enough to do not gettng everyone lost (assuming we ever leave one of three worn out routes) smile.gif

Ride Marshall (aka safety officer?) then gives a talk about the pace. He then asks who's a first timer and who's a mentor and pairs them off. He explains our "mentoring rule".

Mentor pairs off with new person and spends a few minutes talking with them, assesing their skills and their bike. Looking at the clues (mileage, chicken strips, shiney knee pucks) etc.. and getting a feel for the person's skills vs. confidence, etc.

The Mentor then can compare notes with the Marshall on what they are working with and give the Marshall an idea for what the pace will be with the "apprentice". The Marshall, after comparing notes will all mentors can buzz off with A group and enjoy.

Each Mentor then rides with their assigned newbie and has a good ride. The newbie has been eliminated from the Group pressure that is a common nemesis on our rides.

The Ride Marshall keeps track of the Mentor pairs at the stops and tells the Ride Leader when everyone's accounted for.

It sounds more complicated than it is. I think in practice the whole thing would be of little burden and run very smoothly with a few good riders paying attention to the details before the ride starts. It really only takes a minute to have the entire thing organized.

In this scenerio:
Ride Leader needs to be a ride leader - just like always. Someone who makes the decission on where to go (most folks don't care, its the ride that matters) and sets a reasonable pace for the regulars to enjoy.

Ride Marshall needs to know the "regular gang" fairly well so they can choose appropriate matches with Mentors. For example they don't wanna assign some newbie rider to ride along with an unproven squid who's been on three rides for a mentor.

Mentors - riders who've been around. Know what an SMR is about and know how to control themselves (uh oh).

I think this program can scale itself to whatever size group shows up (unlike the a/b thing which might be a better solution during a big turnout with lots of newbies). If only one newbie is there; one mentor takes care of him and we ride. That sort of thing.


Important Note: A ride mentor could determine that in fact the rider is a very good rider - he's just new to us. In that case he is STILL assigned as a pair and they can ride at the back of the group and stay with the group... the newbie is just told that he has to stay with his mentor - so he doesn't get any "race inclination" going. I think this would in fact be the common thing that happened - the mentor pairs could stay with the group for the most part; but we've done our part to eliminate the little devils off the new-to-us rider's shoulder by telling them they have to stay with their mentor and are being assesed for safety reasons for their first ride.

... and I think a bunch of people could make a bunch of really good new friends in the whole thing smile.gif ; one of the main reasons I look forward to being a mentor.


p.s. The insurance company of the goof who knocked me down finally showed up today to assess my 1k's damage so I should be riding again soon and I'm itching to do some SMR's now that it's cooled down a bunch (jeez.. miss fine spring weather waiting on bike to show up... miss fine fall weather cuz a moron knocks me down - sucks to be me? smile.gif ).

The last couple of times I've SMR'd I've played sweeper and enjoyed it; so I'm happy to hang back and "do a job". I'll gladly offer to be a Mentor or a Marshall any Sunday I can make it out.

[ September 18, 2001: Message edited by: Geek ]

September 18th, 2001, 12:21 PM
Oh .. important factor:

Each Mentor pair needs to have a cel. phone with them.

Ride Marshall needs to have a cel phone.

Mentor and Marshall's need eachother's numbers.

...now nobody gets lost track of.

September 18th, 2001, 12:44 PM
Another footnote:

When a TSBA regular brings a new rider onto an SMR - THEY can tell the Marshall and be the rider's Mentor. Following this idea, it'd likely be very seldom we'd need mentor volunteers as most riders who show up new to an SMR are with someone from the TSBA who invited them (most, not all of coruse).

For example when I first introduced Clint to an SMR I'd been riding with him extensively for a few weeks already and I knew he'd be fine riding anywhere in the pack; so I could have been his assigned mentor that day if we'd had this program (though I won't take responsability for that tank slapper wheelie where he almost went over the bars smile.gif ).

[ September 18, 2001: Message edited by: Geek ]

September 18th, 2001, 02:21 PM
Geek, great ideas. One additional, how about a sweeper? We have done this in the past, and I thought it was a good idea.

FYI, Put my hat in, I don't mind helping out any way I can whenever I attend.

September 18th, 2001, 04:15 PM
I want a 6 foot blonde (Ca style) to be my mentor.


September 18th, 2001, 04:20 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hood Ornament- Albert to the tardos:

Actually, that might not be such a good meter. Race take offs are starting to become real popular with the squids.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Good point on one hand if there is no unused rubber it may not tell us that the rider is good. However, if there is nothing but a 2 inch stripe down the center of a flat tire.... ;)

September 18th, 2001, 07:24 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by yellowducati900ssMike:

However, if there is nothing but a 2 inch stripe down the center of a flat tire.... ;)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

...you need to get away from my bike...;)&gt;

Hood Ornament
September 19th, 2001, 07:49 AM
Psst Bill, wanna buy some race take offs?? ;)

John Orchard
September 19th, 2001, 08:22 AM
Chicken strips, a measure of a good/bad rider?? Hmmm - don't know about that one!

Keep in mind, a good rider on the street is gonna be someone who rides safely within their limits, not necessarily someone who is draggin' their knee on the nearest farm market road.

[ September 19, 2001: Message edited by: John O #851 ]

September 19th, 2001, 08:40 AM
Once again, I agree that someone who is a good rider on the street is not a knee dragger there.

What I am really pointing out is that someone with NO use of the anything but the very center of the tire is not used to cornering and we need to be careful of the cornering speeds with them. Besides, this was just ONE of the things that we could look at.

Others would be...
- Broken Plastic
- Check the tire pressure by pressing down on the tires with your foot. You would be amazed at how many people had Visiblylow tire pressure when I took a Safety Course and the Instructor did this.
- Low Mileage
- High Mileage but brand new equipment (i.e. new rider with their first bike)

Plus, the "inspection" is only meant to give us some clues about the person. It is secondary to just plain talking to them!

September 19th, 2001, 08:48 AM
There is one BIG side benefit to us taking more interest in New Comers to the SMR.

When I was in a Business Organization in College, everyone had a "Big Buddy" for their pledge semester. Basically that meant there was someone that would show them the ropes of the organization and someone they knew at the social functions (parties :D).

Our Mentoring program would have the same effect as that did. Basically, not only would it help our SMR's be safer, it would also hook up the new person with someone for the ride and help them get acquainted with the others. As they say, "The First Impression is the most important one". Having someone that they remember by sight and name will help them feel more comfortable at subsequent SMR's and hopefully at the first couple meetings they attend.

September 19th, 2001, 08:50 AM
Sweeper -- this is a magic word to me.

I think that it is VITAL that we have a sweeper on every ride. Having an experienced SMR rider riding sweeper gives the new riders the reassurance that they won't get lost, or if they do fall over, someone will be there to pick them up.

Bill Via rode sweeper for me on my first SMR, gave me some great pointers, and I feel like I fell into the rhythm very quickly after that.

September 19th, 2001, 10:00 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hood Ornament- Albert to the tardos:
Psst Bill, wanna buy some race take offs?? ;)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Why? You know someone who races?...;)&gt;

September 19th, 2001, 10:52 AM
Every ride I had been on had a designated sweeper. Last Sunday Kevin was the sweeper till lunch and after lunch I assumed the role.


September 19th, 2001, 10:39 PM
'cept the ride I was on Faisil smile.gif You were in front of me that day (the day the red CBR1000 and the Blue R6 crashed simulaneously 3 corners apart)

(just funnin' ya)

September 19th, 2001, 10:59 PM
Aha that one, where the sweeper was busy exhibiting wheelies ahead o the pack!, you got the YZF600 guy all excited so he broke my motor mount.

Faisal :cool:

Mikey D
September 21st, 2001, 01:13 PM
I just want to add my 2 cents ...

When I joined the TSBA way back in January, I was assigned a ride mentor. He and I have yet to hook up, and I've been on numerous SMRs through the year. I've learned a good deal just by observing how others ride, but I've yet to go to a track day or racing school. I was planning on doing that this fall, but the racing school was canceled, and the track day on Monday isn't a possibility for me because of work.

I'm not a great rider, but I do fairly well. I desperately want - no, need - track time, as most "newbies" do. I usually ride mid-pack on SMRs, on a bike with mid-pack capability. I've never been down, and I want to keep it that way. But I can only grow as a rider so much on my own and by observing others (heck, I got my golf handicap to 8 with no lessons, but that was IT).

My points are: mentors - if assigned to individual riders - should be able to not only offer instruction, advice and have a certain experience level, but be available and accessible. I think the situation with mine has been more unserendipituous than anything else (paths and schedules not crossing, etc.), but there are other factors.

SMRs are WAY too lax. Discussions on this have run several courses on the forum. I think we're heading in the right direction: smaller sizes, with responsible ride "marshals" and distinct experience levels inherent in each group.

I think that reading "the Pace" should be a requirement for membership. Copies should be available at every meeting, and a description of the basic tenets should be outlined before every SMR. Squids don't ride "the Pace;" they ride their pace, which is often too fast.

In any case ... heal fast, Francine. My prayers are with you.

September 21st, 2001, 01:50 PM
A guy shows up in a t-shirt and tennys. He doesn't ride. Period. I call it the t-shirt-n-tenny meter. :D

September 21st, 2001, 03:11 PM
Darin brings up an excellent point. Riders without proper apparel (full face, gloves, boots, etc.) should be politely told of our gear requirements, and that we'll see them next week. If that doesn't do it Faisal can bring some pics that provide a graphic representation of what can happen when things don't go according to plan.

Switching gears, who among (amongst?) us owns off road/MX bikes? Now that it's cooling off, I'm up for some trail/track time. It's a great way to go fast without fear of cars and cops. IMHO, while things happen pretty quick on an SMR, they happen ten times as fast on a motocross track. I wish I could go to Cresson on Monday and experience real road riding, where we can push our limits. I'd like to compare it to motocross.

September 21st, 2001, 04:18 PM
I love MX, although I'm certainly not very good at it ... I think its way harder than roadracing from a physical standpoint.

...Turn one has gotta be cooler on a MX bike, banging off each other left and right... Although, I do dig T1 in a 600 SuperSmash race!!!