October 22, 2000
I recently met up with some BMW members of our local club and rode back to town after a breakfast. They took off at lightening speed, rode 65 in 45's including 90 degree bends in the road. I lost them. I stopped for gas and too my surprise/embarrassment , they were waiting for me 6 miles down the road. Asked me what happened and was up front, said I couldn't safely keep up. I am now rethinking joining this group.
Finding folks to ride with is a real challenge, especially for the newer rider.
FIRST A WORD ABOUT SAFETY
Before I even start I must emphasize that there is nothing more important than safety. You should never, ever ride outside your skill and your comfort (your "envelope.") Proper equipment, good training and sensible riding will go a long way to ensure a long and happy relationship with your motorcycle. Never, ever compromise safety for any reason. If you ever feel you are in a situation where you are riding beyond your envelope, slow down, find a safe place to pull off and take a breather. Ask yourself how you got into the situation so you can avoid ever getting in that situation again. Most importantly, don't worry about the people you are riding with or the inconvenience they will face as they pull off down the road and send someone back to see if something has happened to you. Unless they are complete morons they will understand, the ones that don't aren't worth riding with anyway.
YOUR RIDING STYLE
Everyone has a riding style and everyone's riding style is always changing. As time goes by and Riders gain more experience and confidence they generally expand their envelope, their limits of riding. Some folks can tackle Deals Gap's 11 miles of 314 curves in just a few months of riding, others will never be able to feel comfortable crossing over to Tennessee that way. You've got to constantly be aware of your envelope, as that will determine whether you have a great day of riding with new friends or a frustrating day stopping to wait or trying to catch up. For most riders the envelope lies broadly in between and riding styles easily overlap enough as to make good riding partners. There are indeed those who cannot fathom scraping a boot, and on the other end those who cannot fathom not scraping a boot (or a sidestand for that matter), but they are quite in the minority and will usually let you know right away.
So what is your riding style? Do you like long leisurely rides through the countryside or would you rather spend your time up in the mountains blazing through the tight, twisty stuff? For most people, it is a combination of both. The trick is to find folks flexible enough to fit within the pool of individual riding envelopes such that while no one is bored, no one is climbing up the forward rider's tailpipe.
FINDING RIDING PARTNERS
One of the most frequent complaints I hear is the difficulty in finding riding partners. I've always found it helps to be proactive in that I've found there are a lot of folks out there that want to ride but not so many that will take the time to put a ride together.
Build an interesting ride
Find some Fellow Riders
Be blunt about your riding style
Basically it all boils down to being pro-active - put together a good ride and find folks that share your riding envelope. Be honest, be patient and take the time to find a good group of folks
That is it - If I've missed something good, please let me know!
(Thanks to Omar for this one :))