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A function of Behavior

By: James R. Davis

For those of you that have done any group riding there is no doubt in your mind about whether the group leader was the first bike in line or somebody else. For those that have not done so, I'd like to explain some realities.

While it is normal that the 'Road Captain' or 'Group Leader' rides in the first position of the group - they, after all, are responsible for establishing route and stops, etc. - just because the first bike is thought of as the 'leader', it ain't necessarily so. And THAT could be dangerous!

An example might show you what I mean. A few years ago a group of bikes was on a ride and along the way the lead bike missed an expected left turn. Instead of using his CB to 'explain' (change of plan or a problem with the road they were going to turn on, etc.), his assumption was that as he was the lead bike all other bikes would simply follow him. They didn't. The second bike in line recognized the missed turn and decided to turn left and 'save the group from having to make a U-turn.' THAT'S MUTINY! And if you doubt it's dangerous, consider that the third bike, not knowing who the real leader of the group was, became so confused that she ran straight into the side of the second bike and the bike behind her very nearly ran into her.

(The lady was confused because the leader failed to identify himself - she had an accident because she was traveling too close to the bike ahead of her.)

So, who IS the actual leader? Why should there be any question about it? A leader evidences leadership! Before the ride begins the 'leader' hosts a pre-ride briefing and explains the 'rules' - what signals they will use, what route they expect to take, who the drag bike will be for their group, how the group makes lane changes, how any member of the group can cause the group to make a stop, etc. Then, the leader tells the group where they are to line up in preparation for their departure.

By virtue of the members of the group lining up as instructed THEY HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED both the leadership of the person who hosted the meeting and that they intend to follow the rules.

In the example I gave above the lady was the cause of the accident - the 'Prime Directive' in any group ride is "DO NOT HIT THE BIKE AHEAD OF YOU." The proper thing for all riders in the group to have done was to follow the lead bike - unless it was into danger. At a later time when everybody is off their bikes there would no doubt be some good natured ribbing going on about unannounced change of plans. And, had the number 2 bike done as he did - decide to make a turn on his own - then all bikes that were behind him should have let him go and continued following the LEADER.

'Power' is derived from position. 'Authority' is derived from title. 'Leadership' is derived from behavior.

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(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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