Kojo Baffoe and other riding enthusiasts heading out for a leisurely ride on Johannesburg’s highways.
Kojo Baffoe and other riding enthusiasts heading out for a leisurely ride on Johannesburg’s highways.
Image: Joe Fleming, Bonafide Moto Co.

It was earlyish on a Sunday morning. Not as early as the 6am breakfast run meeting times that seem to appeal to some but early because, in my world, anything before 10am on a Sunday is early, considering my children are finally at the age where they let me sleep in on most weekends. On whim, I have decided to join a group ride leaving Triumph’s Johannesburg dealership. It is for a Classics and Cruisers Ride and I have been able to negotiate the use of a Triumph Street Twin as my own bike, a 2015 BMW R1200R, is not that classic and is out of commission.

I must admit that part of my motivation for committing to the ride stems from the reputation I seem to have acquired, namely that of being what someone called an “anti-group rider”. Granted, I have often expressed my issues with group riding and reluctance to join a motorcycle club (which I have previously written about in To Join Or Not To Join) and my tendency to head out on my own for brunch or afternoon runs, purely because the “waking up early on a weekend to go riding” just doesn’t work for me.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to ride with a group of Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders from Johannesburg to East London, with a stop overnight in Kokstad. There were at least 25 of us, with me on a Road Glide, heading to Africa Bike Week. If there is one thing that Harley has always done well, with its Harley Owners Group (HOG), it is educating riders on the various motorcycle hand signals. Before this ride, I had gone through a two-day beginners’ riding course with Harley’s now defunct rider’s academy in the Hartbeespoort area.

What I hadn’t learnt, I learnt very quickly on the ride, especially when we actually got to East London and I went on a 40-plus bike ride through town to Mdantsane. Signals for slowing down, single- and double-file riding, road hazards and the like came in extremely handy, and became second nature.

Kojo Baffoe.
Kojo Baffoe.
Image: Joe Fleming, Bonafide Moto Co.

So, while I am not for joining motorcycle clubs and everything that comes with them, I have come to appreciate the efficiency of riding with groups that are au fait with the hand signals and I have found it in those who have been part of motorcycle clubs.

Pulling out of Triumph in Kramerville, heading out for a leisurely ride on Johannesburg’s highways and working our way back to Sandton, surrounded by mainly Triumph classics but also a Kawasaki cafe racer and a BMW R nineT, I hung back to get a sense of riding styles and comfort with the traditional staggered group riding.

Kojo Baffoe.
Kojo Baffoe.
Image: Joe Fleming, Bonafide Moto Co.

By and large, it was a lovely ride, despite the occasional straying of one or two bikes, riding in single file, not shifting across when the bike in front shifted across. Lingering at the back allowed me to take in the sights and sounds of both the city and the wonderful growl of the Street Twin.

In my mind, group riding should provide a sense of security and safety. Having had a front tyre burst while out riding solo reinforced that for me. Fortunately, the outcome wasn’t as tragic as it could have been but I often think about that incident when I am out riding solo. But group riding shouldn’t feel like a chore or pressure to keep up. It should be an opportunity to enjoy the feeling of being on a motorcycle with people who appreciate the same feeling. When done with the same spirit, it can be a beautiful thing.

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