We have all been on some great motorcycle runs and some runs where we it would have been better if we had skipped. This weekend a few of us from Beantown Baggers went on a run from Medford to Seabrook, NH. The run was created by a group of people who wanted to honor Krystle Campbell, a woman tragically lost in the Marathon Bombings. Proceeds went to the One Fund and the Krystle Campbell Scholarship fund. This was an example of a very well-coordinated ride and is the motivation for this article.
What makes a great run?
Most runs are designed to raise money for a cause. Causes can range from an established charity to a single benefactor. It’s up to the riders to determine if the cause is aligned to their values. We won’t comment on good or bad causes – it’s just not our place.
Advice: Research the cause before the ride and find out how much of the donation will actually impact the cause versus covering expenses such as shirts, police escorts and organizer fees. Otherwise, if you’re just going out for a nice day’s ride, you may be comfortable with a small fee for a well organized event regardless of the money’s destination.
When organizers design a ride, they should consider the roads they would like to ride despite the group despite the group of several hundred in tow. With that said, most rides don’t get into twisties or technical riding as organizers have to design rides for the lowest common denominator. This means that the more people you have on the ride, the easier the route has to be.
Advice:Check out the route before the ride and determine if the roads seem interesting, scenic and challenging enough for you to enjoy the ride. Also, make sure that if it is a technical ride and you aren’t much of a rider, stay in the back of the group or just sit out the ride until you’re more confident with your two-wheeled prowess.
Almost any ride will encounter some traffic, stop signs and a light or two. All of these are alright as long as the ride is coordinated with blockers and a police escort. Blockers are normally volunteers who will put their bike in between intersections and the procession of bikes. Police escorts will add a level of legitimacy to the ride but are not necessary for good coordination.
Advice: If you are an experienced rider and want to contribute to the ride’s success – get there early and volunteer to help. This could be blocking or just sitting at the back to make sure nobody is stranded. The other thing you can do is stay in line and be a good group rider – something that is often overlooked.
Big bike runs are a lot of fun as you can meet great fellow riders but there are downsides with big runs, namely that they take forever and depending on the level of coordination, small issues are amplified into big ones.
Promoters can do their part to ensure a good turnout including advertising, posting on social networks and sharing with local bike shops. If the organizers start promoting early enough with as much detail as possible, including the route, cause and level of organization, they are more likely to have a good ride. The one wildcard is weather and unless there is a universally great cause, weather will keep people at home.
Where the ride ends will often be a motivator as will the length of time at the destination. There are three main types of rides including:
- Destination only
- Round Trip
Loops: You will ride for a while and end at the starting spot. Depending on the roads, this can be a great ride. With that said, it is my least favorite you feel like you’re in a little league parade around city hall. On the plus side, it’s easier to plan the rest of your day on loop runs.
Destination only: The run will go to a bar, restaurant or barbecue spot for a bite to eat and a little socializing. This is a great time to check out other bikes and meet some other members of the community. People usually hang around for a bit and then are free to go when they please. These rides also offer flexibility for planning the rest of your day.
Round trip: You will ride for a while, camp out at a destination and then return as a group a few hours later. This is definitely the longest option and makes it tougher to plan the rest of your day unless the ride is perfectly organized. With that said, you’re likely to make a few more riding buddies during such a ride because you’ve already tolerated each other for a full day of riding.
Duration: The length of the ride can be anywhere from a half hour to a few hours. It’s worth finding out how long you’re going to be out before leaving to avoid rushing back unnecessarily.
Advice: Just be flexible and ride well with the group. If you had anything better to do, you wouldn’t be out riding on a weekend.