I wanted to write about the Road Captains from the Fort Worth HOG Chapter. Primarily because I ride with them, know them, see what they do on rides, and have an enormous amount of respect for them. They are often taken for granted and just seen as someone leading or trailing behind each group. Some just see them as part of our Chapters structure of group riding and don’t take much notice as to what is going on that makes these riders so special. What most people don’t know is the amount of sacrifice our Road Captains give to help make our rides safe. Even outside of riding events they give their time unselfishly so that all of the Chapters members can have a fun filled day.
I began asking our Road Captains about what it meant and what it took to become and stay a road captain within the Chapter. The responses and explanations honestly took me by surprise. I knew they were excellent and experienced riders but did not understand what happened behind the scenes. One of the first responses from a Road Captain I talked to was “time”. He said outside of your job and family, the responsibilities of being a Road Captain would consume a tremendous amount of your free time. So I asked him to elaborate….
Continuous training was one of the first things they are involved in. They work with local law enforcement and attend classes in how to best manage group riding situations. They have to keep their accident scene management certifications up to date. They attend advanced riding courses every year. They also attend a mandatory Road Captain meeting once a month through our chapter. So you might think OK, a few classes here and there and a meeting isn’t a big deal. It might not seem like much but its only the start, and coming back to the sacrificial “time” aspect, this could take from a couple hours to entire weekends like the accident scene management class took. That means their entire weekend could be gone like a puff of smoke. Or as in the Road Captain meeting, one entire evening of personal time is gone. Remember there are only 52 weeks in a year so personal time can be lost quickly.
Next it was brought to my attention that every ride the Chapter offers has been pre-ridden within a couple weeks at most prior to the event. The Road Captains have a loose schedule where they sign up for pre-rides and literally ride the entire route however long or short it may be to look for possible hazards and report this info back to leadership. Then the route can be changed if it needs to. So as members and riders, Margaret and I might get home from work and decide to take a nice little ride to a restaurant, enjoy the evening, and go back home when we want. We might just decide to flop around the house and watch movies. So while were enjoying our time together doing whatever we want after a days work, our Road Captains are out pre-riding upcoming routes. Most Chapter events are on the weekend in which they are participants, this means they are out during the week pre-riding those routes for upcoming events. Their sacrificing free time, fuel cost, miles on their bikes, and maintenance costs almost weekly. And, if inclement weather rolls in on the weekend and the ride gets cancelled or changed, they would have taken their free time and pre-rode it for nothing. UH OH! Were starting to see some serious commitment eh?
It doesn’t stop there! At events, we as members look at the calendar, see the time, and make the decision about what time we want to arrive for a ride or event and leave when we want to. Our Road Captains however show up first, have a meeting about the days event and prepare for whatever is happening that day. They are also the last to leave once its over. Often times they are working 12+ hour days so Chapter members can enjoy the day and event. They work at events like Demo Days, Dealer events, Dinner runs, Open house events, HOG rallies, Christmas party, Chapter Picnic, and special runs like our mid week 9/11 run. Literally, almost daily they sacrifice their free time to give to the Chapter. Daily you say? Surely not…..well, yea, it truly is almost daily as you’ll see reading on…
I decided to put together a fairly accurate breakdown and some numerical statistics of the amount of time our Road Captains give to the Chapter based on our calendar of scheduled events and what is necessary outside of that schedule.
-Classes with law enforcement= 1 weekend, 2 days
-Accident scene management classes= 1 weekend, 2 days
-Advanced riding course= 1 weekend, 2 days
-Road Captain meeting= 12 evenings a year
-Pre-rides=2 evenings a month, 24 evenings a year
-HOG Rallies? I put 1 weekend a year on this because I know they all attend at least one of them= 1 weekend a year, 3 days
-Chapter meeting= 1 day a month, 12 days a year
-Skills day= 1 day a month, 12 days a year
-Dinner ride= 2 evenings/days mid week a month, 24 days a year
-Other mid week events, LOH, Open house, NHRA nights= 1 evening a month, 12 days a year
-WOW= its serious now isn’t it!!!
-Saturday or Sunday rides= 2 days a month, 24 days a year
-3 day events (3 sisters ride for example)= 3 days a year
-Demo Days, they provide lead and drag for the demo ride groups= 2 weekends a year, 4 days a year.
-And sometimes they throw in a ride on the same weekend as another days event= 1 day a month, 12 days a year.
Based on the above events, 148 days out of the year is exclusively dedicated to Road Captain responsibilities. The Chapters requirements are 50% attendance for Road Captains so that brings this down to 74 days. For the most part, this really is an entire day or evening after work that is lost to them for their personal life. This calculates out to 20.2% of the days of the year is given to the Chapter. I loosely put together these numbers based on real events over the past year, there are variables that could be applied either way in regards to more or less time given, but this is pretty close. I could with near certainty say they do even more than this.
And after all of this, even when they are riding on a nice scheduled ride through the country side, they are working. They are on high alert for the group, guiding, directing traffic, providing a barrier between the group and vehicles, directing and helping riders park upon arrival, and watching riders for any problems they might see such as dehydration or exhaustion. It takes a very unique and committed individual to give this much of themselves for the Chapter. Our Road Captains care deeply for the members they serve and its a sacrifice I believe everyone should be aware of.