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.

14 Responses to “Do You Want To Be A Road Captain?”

  1. you are correct, mr. green. nothing says sucess more than a couple of ” thank you’s” or “i had a great time”. it makes the planning and preriding a welcome effort.
    it is a large weight to know one is responsible for the group and sometimes it does seem overwhelming but when the stands go down and the smiles show up, its all good. the best is when the ride is over and everyone wants to go on to another destination together. this is why FSH is the best. riders, friends, family.

  2. I’m glad you agree Mr. Glimmer!

  3. Good write up. I think most people do the officer thing for prestige and because it gives them a chance to impose authority. The good ones do it for the reasons you stated. For the love of the ride and the group.

    It’s pretty easy to identify the ones who got into it for the right reasons and those who are doing it for the wrong reasons.

  4. Thanks Dave, I always appreciate your point of view. Especially when you get serious. I hope we get to meet you someday.

  5. Yeppie. I think I have said this before, but being a Road Captain ain’t about wearing a patch. Well written Jay. Anything in particular that prompted it?

  6. Not just one, but many things. Mostly just my thoughts because as you know there are not a lot of places for us Road Captains to find oppinions, conversations and information about what we do. I think this website is a valuable opportunity for all of us to discuss these things.

  7. An excellent write-up…Being a Road Captain is like being a Soccer coach…

  8. Awww crap….you mean all this time I was wrong to take the left front just to get chicks??? Shit! Now what am I going to do? Now the next time I point to a “sling-shotter” to move his ass up in the slot and stop leaving a gap, I’m gonna feel all types of patch-authority guilt. Time for Road Captain’s Anonymous I guess; it’s the only way for me now. The shame of it all should make me a better man. I promise not to combine riding with sex ever again, and I’ll stop showing up with my saddlebags full of ice and beer when I make Safety Officer or Uber Road Captain.

    You’ve snatched me back from the brink brother. Many thanks!

  9. Joker, just stop over to the director’s house for a get together or have a combined yahoo-im session. he will certainly gently guide you back to the straight and narrow. by the way, the mrs. makes an awesome salsa dip so you won’t leave hungry.

  10. Salsa dip & Yuengling for everyone with a Road captain patch! Oh, wait…I don’t get a paycheck for 6 more weeks…Nevermind!

  11. I remember when you were starting this journey for yourself and looking for guidance. Things have certainly progressed, haven’t they? How has the journey enriched your own life?

  12. I find myself still recovering emotionally from witnessing a terrible accident while riding sweep back in April. I will have to come back to this question at a later date when I return to a more normal state of mind. If anyone has some feedback on how long it has taken them to return to normal after something like this, please do share.

  13. Irondad, it has been a year since you asked me that question and I feel that I am now back to a fairly normal state of mind so that I can attempt to answer the question.
    The journey to RoadCaptainhood has enriched my life in that I have been able to pass on the adventure, thrill and friendship to fellow HOG members that are new to group riding and touring just like the Road Captains that took time to take me out and show me new places. Taking riders on their first overnighter and showing them what is possible is the best. I love opening their eyes to doing things on their motorcycles that they never would have thought about before joining our HOG Chapter. See the country on two wheels, maybe the world!

  14. This article certainly was an eye opener for me. The decision to place your name in the hat to become a road captain is a serious and bike-ride-changing decision. I must have been very lucky to have been in the presence of our talented Road Captains, they make it look SO easy. Must be a testament to their abilities.

    Thanks Jay for pointing out the intricacies of the position.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment