Q: You refer to a thing called a Noggin - what is it?
A: The Noggin takes place once a month on the 2nd Tuesday (of the month).
The context we use is as a “meeting of the heads”, which implies that we meet to talk about BMW biking related topics.
What you can expect to find at such an event is a talk about a motorcycle related topic, announcements about upcoming events and rides - as well as food, drink, and a lot of discussion.
I did not know myself when I joined the Club but were told it can be found in the English dictionary. I looked it up and:
According to Encarta Dictionary (UK):
one-fourth of a pint - a measure of spirits equivalent to 0.148 litres¼ of a pint
cup - a small cup or mug
head - the human head
It is also a character on TV, games, etc.
On www.altavista.com I found 275,000 hits…
Q: What are the basic rules of riding with other riders?
A: The basic rule is BE SAFE. This implies that you ride with your own personal space that you feel comfortable with around you. If the other riders encroach into this space - tell them!! There is a lot of other tips and techniques - see some of the other Q&As for those.
Q: How do I make sure I do not get lost when I am too slow to keep up with the group?
A: Gained from doing many kilometers in the Club - the main rule is: DO NOT LOOSE THE GUY BEHIND YOU.
Q: I am new to riding in groups, other groups talk about staggered formation, line astern, etc. - can you please explain what I can expect from the Club?
A: We advocate riding generally in a line-astern manner, maintaining at least 2 secs spacing.
Each person can then ride free, and be either right-ish or left-ish of the grubby center line or just in the middle as it suits at that point in the road in the knowledge that you are free to use the whole lane width at any time should the need arise (without compromising the safety of the following rider and the group). The trick of counting “21 - 22″ deliberately then creates the correct spacing at any speed - further apart at high speeds and closer at slower speeds. Clearly, for one to be able to see well ahead of the rider ahead of you one will naturally position yourself left-ish or right-ish of him/her - makes good sense but this is not a staggered pattern as practiced by the biking fraternity. Our line-astern pattern also allows the individual to take corners correctly (enter, apex and exit), to negotiate hazards freely and allows a measure of individual speed variation by one rider that will not compromise the whole chain of bikes behind him/her. The staggered pattern only allows the left hand side an escape and then only onto the verge of the road and no escape way to those in the right hand side. Our pattern allows one to see further ahead of you on the road as well.
The reason we advocate a non-staggered pattern is primarily because we travel at higher speeds and therefore if one’s spacing is less than 2 secs on the road (to anything with wheels ahead of you anywhere on the road) one is simply compromising your own safety as well as that of the group and increasing the risks 100-fold if not more. Advanced Rider trainers promote at least 3 seconds!
You will notice that we abhor the closely spaced and strictly staggered pattern that is put forward as the way “bikers should ride in a group”. I am actually quite amazed (and horrified) that intelligent people have developed the closely spaced staggered pattern for riding and it is essentially only to disallow other vehicles into the group because it certainly does not add to safety - rather the opposite. And for this benefit, Bikers wilfully compromise their safety - makes no sense to me. Reaction times of humanity are at best around the 0.7 sec mark, so riding two seconds behind the guy in front of you in the line BUT by definition only 1 sec behind the guy next to you is plumb crazy. Anyway, the true staggered spacing is achieved by you riding in such a way that you see the rider’s eyes ahead of you and to the side, in his mirror - and that’s even less than 1 sec!
I have ridden with Cruisers and Harley’s and some superbike groups to observe and also test my theories out - not once but a few times already, so I have done the staggered-thing myself! I’ve seen a few emergencies develop in these groups and observed the chaos that follows primarily because you simply have no time to execute evasive action. The Lead Rider is also compromised in the choices he/she can make. With a tightly knit bunch on his tail, there is no way he can hesitate when approaching an ‘old-green’ light, for example or in a passing situation. Then even if the light changes, usually the whole group just rides on thru. The Harley method of closing off the road especially at intersections (but also along highways at on and off-ramps) is an exceptionally dangerous practice - especially for the marshals who are exposed to the vagaries of the caged-traffic. I’ve seen it all; with people jumping away from cars that had simply not realised the intersection was closed because they had seen it green for them. Harley and Cruiser Groups travel at much slower speeds than we do and get away with their technique only because of this. Traffic Police also have difficulty with the concept and have been known to castigate HOG for closing off the roads.
Our lead riders also have a huge responsibility on their shoulders especially to maintain group coherence but these are all techniques that are easy to get used to and execute. They do not require the sort of militaristic sticking to the (strange) rule thing that the staggered pattern demands.
Besides, all those along the roadside should savour the awesome sight of 60 to 80 BMW’s cruising past and it therefore behaves us to string ourselves out so that the spectacle can be admired properly and in good time!