Riding long distances as a group on classic geared scooters is a real pleasure. There is nothing quite like being self contained in respects of having your own camping gear with the ability to adapt to anything unexpected thrown up at you. Certainly, leading a group of like minded individuals and exploring new regions, terrain and roads has never become boring to me over the years and never stops to inspire me to always do that little bit more and go that little bit further.
The roads we navigate as L.O.S.T are chosen because you get to see things a lttle different from a 'B' road versus a corrsponding large duel carriageway. You maybe able to get somewhere much quicker on the A30 but miss out on so much scenery, people or even wildlife. In addition, small lanes / roads offer th rider and scooter a much greater challenge in terms of both the riding skills required and the inevitable battering the scooter receives. Both you and your bike need to be up to spec so to speak. This guide is designed to get you as a L.O.S.T rider in the best possible position to partake and contribute within the group.
Riding a 180 miles per day on small roads with complex navigation included is tiring. Repeat this 4 or 5 days on the trot and you have a significant test on your hands. It is not like riding 200 mile on A / M roads to a rally event
Having ridden or driven in large groups over many years, whether on Motorcycles, Scooters or even cars, there are a number of things that as an active participant in a group event you can do yourself to help the overall success of the ride. So, as a rider on a L.O.S.T event there are two key areas where you as a rider can siginifianctly assist in us all reaching our target in a safe and an enjoyable manner.
Before you start out.......
Each event will be provided a 'flyer' explaining in detail the route, the challenge, the stop points and points of interest. It will also set out the expected mileage for each day. It is important that you read the information provided fully. Don't rely on a chat at the local meet or listen to somebody elses opinion of what is going to happen. If there is something you are not happy with or feel you cannot meet the target set out then it is important that you clarify the details with the person running the event before you embark and make a sensible decision on whether to partake. Do not be pressured into something that a) you are not comfortable with or worries you and b) You do not think you could achieve. Starting out with concerns / worries will affect the groups overall performance in meeting challenges others maybe happy and wanting to tackle.
Learn the route. The flyer information provides details of the general route. Things can change and not always for the easier once we start out due to weather, road condition or breakdowns. If you get separated (and it happens!) you can at least navigate yourself back to the group or even an end point.
Practice riding beforehand with luggage on small roads where possible. It is hugely different and requires real caution at times. Braking distances, cornering needs and even getting on and off the steed can be challenging. Can you even start the scoot with all that stuff on it? It sounds silly but I have seen guys load their bikes up only to find that they can only get on / off it one way and cant even reach the floor based brake pedal.
Once we are off.....
Manage your distance. As a group rider, it is your responsibility to the person behind you to stay in contact / sight of the person in front. If the group turns left or right and you have lost contact then you are likely to miss the turn and lead the guys behind you the wrong way. Some of the navigation in rural or remote regions can be complex and this issue becomes even more prevalant. Tracking back to find members is time consuming and impacts significantly on meeting the daily targets set out. Ride to the roads width where possible and leave a good braking space between you and the rider in front. Small roads can throw up unknown issues such as animals, potholes or farm vehicles. Are you going to stop or hit the guy in front?
Do not ride two abreast. I know this happens when trying to communicate to each other at times but is a seriously dangerous way of riding. Its ok in California but not the B2123 which is only 15ft wide. The guy on the outside i.e. centre of the road has no run off point if oncoming traffic is encroaching his/her side. Inadditon, Do not undertake ever!!! I know this sounds like basic stuff but it happens and is lethal.
Maintain your speed. The distances set out each day are based on the whole group maintaining as close as possible national speed limits. B roads will always require caution when riding and will often necessitate very very slow speeds. These slower sections have been allowed for within the daily plan and no one should be expected to ride at speeds that is dangerous to themselves or other road users. However, where roads are open, safe and predictable then it is each riders responsibility to gain speed as fast as possible so as not to affect adversely other road users travelling speed. This is actually a highway code requirement and not just me banging on!
Tools and and daily roadworthy checks. Long distance riding will brake your scooter at some point. Learn how to fix the basics, bring some simple tools and spares to tackle the easier of jobs. Do not expect anyone to fix our scooter. The group will always help out where they can but it your bike and your responsibility to have a maintained bike and show willing to sort the thing. Check your Scooter every morning before you set off. The group will not worry if a delayed start is required if you have to tighten some wheel nuts or sort out a brake light. it could possibly save someone later coming a cropper or causing damage to other members or road users. Long distance B road riding makes things come loose and fall off. ve been hit in the head by a spare wheel coming loose before now.
Have fun, be safe and think ahead.