I wanted to write about the Road Captains from the Fort Worth HOG Chapter. 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. They don't take much notice as to what makes these riders so special. What most people don't know is the amount of sacrifice our Road Captains make to help make our rides safe. Outside of riding events they give their time unselfishly so all of the Chapters members can have a fun-filled day.
The Question That Brought It Out
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….
Motorcycle Related Training
Continuous training was one of the first things they are involved in. They work with local law enforcement and attend classes on how to best manage group riding situations. They have to keep their accident scene management certifications up to date. Road Captains attend advanced riding courses every year. There is also a mandatory Road Captain meeting once a month.
So you might think OK, a few classes here and there and a meeting isn't a big deal. This is only the start, and coming back to the sacrificial "time" aspect, this could take from a couple of hours to entire weekends as 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.
It found that every ride the Chapter offers has been pre-ridden within a couple of weeks at most prior to the event. The Road Captains have a loose schedule where they sign up for pre-rides. Next, they literally ride the entire route however long or short it may be. They look for possible hazards and report the info back to leadership. Then the route can be changed if it needs to. As members and riders, Margaret and I might get home from work and decide to take a nice little ride to a restaurant. We might just decide to flop around the house and watch movies.
While were enjoying our time together after a day's 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. They sacrifice free time, fuel cost, miles on their bikes, and maintenance costs almost weekly. If inclement weather rolls in on the weekend and the ride gets canceled or changed, they would have taken their free time and pre-rode it for nothing.
More Giving Of Time
It doesn't stop there! At events, we make the decision about what time we want to arrive and leave when we want to. Our Road Captains however show up first, have a meeting about the day's event, and prepare for whatever is happening that day. They are also the last to leave once it's over. Often times they are working 12+ hour days so Chapter members can enjoy the day. They work at events like Demo Days, Dealer events, Dinner runs, Open house events, HOG rallies, Christmas parties, 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…
Breaking Down Their Time
I decided to put together a fairly accurate breakdown with numerical statistics of the amount of time our Road Captains give to the Chapter. This is 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? 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
- Saturday or Sunday rides= 2 days a month, 24 days a year
- Three-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.
- Sometimes they have a ride on the same weekend as another event= 1 day a month, 12 days a year.
Based on the above events, 148 days out of the year are exclusively dedicated to Road Captain responsibilities. The Chapter requirements are 50% attendance for Road Captains so that brings this down to 74 days. This 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.
Road Captains Care
Even when they are riding on a nice scheduled ride through the countryside, 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 it's a sacrifice I believe everyone should be aware of.