Regardless, whether you ride solo or with a group there are standard safety practices that must apply. Tire pressure, chain or belt tension, functional lights, mirrors and personal protective gear to name a few all apply. Some riders take these safety issues seriously and others give it them a casual thought.
It all comes down to “situational awareness.” I went to a public school so I don’t recall who said, “…with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…” but I am smart enough to know with regard to a group ride what happens to one happens to all; either directly or indirectly. Maintaining situational awareness is the key to a safe, enjoyable, Murphy-free ride. We all know who Murphy is; he’s the guy who ensures if your bike breaks down it will break down far from civilization. Situational awareness is knowing (relative to your position) where the closest rider is, to know the proximity of that cage coming up behind or beside you, and to be aware of what the cager in that cage is doing. Are your fellow riders alert? Are they aware of you and what you are doing? Is that cager alert? Or is the cager taking a picture or texting their friends about the long bike procession they are driving by. For those who may not know, a “cager” is the name given by bikers for the driver of an automobile and of course the “cage” is the automobile itself. Another part of situational awareness (perhaps more important) is your ability to know, or at least have a hint, what the rider in front and behind will do with regard to what you may do. Every action has a ripple effect in a group ride. What happens to the 5th rider will affect the 6th, 7th, and every rider following the 7th.
If you ride based on the 1 second rule is it 1 second behind the rider directly in front of you or 1 second behind the staggered rider, meaning 2 seconds behind the rider directly in front of you. Do you ride side by side? Some States have laws that require staggered riding. Side by side riding makes for a really cool procession, but this style of riding does not leave room for error. A rider’s best friend is an escape route. Riding in close proximity with each other, in a non-staggered configuration, will reduce and sometimes completely eliminate your escape route. No escape route means, if an escape is needed you will not escape. Granted, I just stated the obvious but how many of you reading this didn’t think of the obvious until after you read it? In the grand scheme of things I think a prudent person would agree side by side riding or using the 0.5 second rule is not conducive to a positive outcome were Murphy to enter the mix.
Proper spacing and vigilance is paramount when riding solo; even more so when riding in a group.