Dodging the RoadkillClarksville, Tn — This journey I’m on has provided many “firsts.”  Today I led a group ride. 

That was DEFINITELY a first for me. 

Group rides are something I felt were always led by more experienced riders, and since I’ve only been riding a couple of years, I didn’t feel that was in my “wheelhouse.”

It was.  

During a recent Harley Owners Group (H.O.G) officers meeting, we were trying to come up with dates to have a group ride in April.  I suggested a route I like to ride a lot that winds through southern Kentucky and eventually to Kenlake Marina.  It’s a combination of open roads, back roads, and winding lakefront roads that are absolutely beautiful.  We cross two bridges over Lake Barkley and eventually land at our destination.

“Ok, Hank’s leading a ride on April 21st” was the last thing I heard at the meeting.

What?  Huh?  (note to self: remember, when you speak up during a board meeting, you’ve probably volunteered for something.)

I was excited to lead this ride.  We have an amazing H.O.G chapter with some amazing leaders.  They’re passionate about motorcycles, and they’re passionate about each other.  Joining your local H.O.G chapter is a good idea.  If you’re looking to hang out with a bunch of like minded individuals and do plenty of riding, then this is for you.

There are all sorts of riding clubs, MC’s and other groups who enjoy group rides and it’s awesome.  

So here’s what I learned from leading my first one:

Road Captains:  I wrote about them here.  They’re invaluable to the group ride.  From the moment it was announced that I would be leading a ride, I had several offer to help with the “check ride” and volunteer to help me lead the group.  Now, this may have been because it was my first ride and they wanted to make sure that nothing went wrong, or they were just doing what road captains do, and that’s insure the safety of the group.  I would say it was a combination of the two.  Road captains are special bikers.  They’re like a hawk, watching over their field of prey.  

“Not on my watch” is their mindset.

I want to thank Tosh Blackman, who oversees our chapter road captains.  Specifically, David Culver, Mike Hitzges, Jon Robinson, Carlos Peters,  Jim “Chainsaw” Mannon and Chip Turner for their help.  I love these guys and they’re awesome. 

I’m happy to report that all the birds returned to the nest.

I also want to thank Sandy Perry and the Ladies of Harley.  They’re so important to our organization and like most relationships. a good woman makes things “click.”   I would also like to thank Troy Perry Sr. as our “Road Captain Emeritus” who was along for the ride and said, “if you need me, I’ll be here.”

You know the feeling when you know someone’s got your back?  That’s what I felt like. 

There’s safety in numbers and group rides are as safe as anything a biker will do.  Not only that, but it’s an amazing sight to see.  People will stop and watch the group “rumble” by.  Little kids will wave, old bikers will flash the “respect” sign.  But most of all, EVERYBODY will see us and that’s a good thing.

It’s a big responsibility to lead a ride.  I was apprehensive at first, but my “guys” made me feel more confident.  All went well.

I learned that doing the speed limit is critical.  It’s not about how fast you go, but how safe do you lead the ride?  All in all, everybody enjoyed the route and enjoyed the lunch we had.  That’s what’s important.  

The fellowship of a group ride is special.  Whether it’s your “cup of tea” or not, everybody should go on one every now and again.  You never know who you’ll meet.  I happened to see an old friend I hadn’t seen in over forty years. 


Thanks to everyone who supported the ride, and especially to my guys who made sure we all came home without a scratch.  

I love the people I meet on this bike!