Do You Want To Be A Road Captain?

HOG RC Patch

Being a Road Captain takes time and dedication and the only reward is the appreciation of those that you take out on a ride and the self gratification that comes from sharing what you enjoy with others. That’s it, it’s that simple. Anyone who signs up for this position for the perceived prestige of the title should stay home. I will go so far as to say, anyone who takes an officer position within a riding organization merely for the ego trip should get the heck outa town. These are volunteer positions and the reward is that warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping others. A Road Captain patch should not become some sort of achievement badge that says you are a better rider then the next guy. It should also be understood that this should not become an authority issue. This perception of prestige, authority and achievement attracts the wrong applicants for the job. What you end up with is a bunch of dudes (and maybe some chicks) who show up for the Road Captain meetings but never do anything. If you have a huge group photo of your Road Captain crew and no rides on the calendar then you have to wonder “why did these people sign up for the position?” If they are not putting rides up and are burnt out, why do they still consider themselves an RC? The only answer I can come up with is the prestige, authority and achievement.

If you want to be a Road Captain then plan to learn as much about motorcycles, riding motorcycles and motorcycle safety as you can. Plan on staying up late studying maps and comparing different routes. Plan on getting up early to lead rides, particpate in other peoples rides, and riding sweep for your peers. Plan on putting yourself in harms way occasionally to protect the group. Plan on getting a ticket once in awhile for running a traffic light and getting caught on camera. Plan on spending alot of money on gas, tolls, maintenance, hotels, motels and endless trip expenses. Plan on getting dirty looks from your neighbors because you spend too much time riding to mow your lawn. Plan on pre-riding your local and out of state trips several times until they meet your high standards. Plan on listening to everyone gripe about going too fast, too slow, not stopping to go to the bathroom enough, stopping too often and about the weather when it isn’t cooperating. Plan on managing an accident scene, but hope you never have to. Plan on hearing “Thank you” once inawhile, but don’t expect it. Most of all, plan on feeling really good about yourself that you gave up your time to plan and execute a ride that others enjoyed. Not alot of people are cut out for this position, so if you are doing it well… hold your head up high!

You ask me “how do I know if I’m doing it well?”. If you are practicing all the safety precautions recommended by the MSF and your riders are having fun and the same riders keep coming back for your rides… then you’re doing a good job! If you realize you are not perfect and strive to always learn more and stay humble, then you are the right man (or women) for the job. If you constantly challenge yourself to do better and can balance being an authority figure with being accomodating then this is the right position for you. I hope it goes without saying that a Road Captain doesn’t have to be absolutely the best rider in the group but that he or she should definitely command a high skill level and ride smart. In fact I would put more weight on the “ride smart” part. It’s my oppinion that a smart rider is the best rider, not the one who can make the tightest u-turn. The best rider is the one who can read the road, the one who understands cause an effect, the one who can anticipate what will happen and use this knowledge to keep the group safe. 

If you are a Road Captain and you are thinking that maybe you shouldn’t be, then I hope this article helped you make a decision. If you are thinking about becoming a Road Captain, I hope this article enlightened you that this is not a road to glory but a truley gratifying experience. I tip my hat to all the good Road Captains out there; keep up the good work! Thank you for giving up your time so that others can enjoy the thrill of riding their motorcycles to places they otherwise would not have ventured out to. Remember what this is all about: Having Fun Safely!

Be honest with yourself and ask yourself: “Why do I want to be a Road Captain?” and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.