A typical motorcycle or riding club will have one or more members designated as a Road Captain. The Road Captain is a fundamental part of the planning and execution of any motorcycle group ride. The Road Captain sees to the safety of the riders and the smooth running of the ride itself. Duties include leadership during the ride, communication and rider education.
The road captain may even act as a tour guide. The Road Captain’s job is vital, especially where riders may number in the dozens. He must be well versed in the route, know about potential hazards, road conditions and any special events that are happening at the time of the ride. A road captain may ride the route a few days in advance to make sure nothing has changed, have alternate routes planned just in case, and will keep an eye on the weather. In a traditional motorcycle club, during actual time on the road or at intermediate stops during a run, he acts as the ranking club officer, deferring only to the President or Vice President. The Road Captain generally has overall authority on a club ride. The Road Captain is often one of, if not the most experienced rider and has a superior level of mechanical technical expertise.
He may also conduct inspections of member’s bikes prior to a ride to ensure the operational safety of the bikes. He will brief the group before a ride starts as to route, intermediate stops, if any, procedures if riders have trouble and hand signals for those riders without communication devices. He may also take into account the experience of new riders and position them within the group for safety reasons. He will choose one or more of the experienced members to act as the rear guard.
As the leader, he sets the pace for the group. Riders are expected to keep an eye on him for cues as to where to go next. When a lane change is performed, the leader signals the change and the rear guard initiates it. This prevents lane-changing bikes from crashing into one another and also provides a safer block to traffic. Turn indicators and arm signals are seen from the rear and a large column of bikes changing is less likely to be cut off. At gas and fuel stops, the road captain will set up in an area large enough for the line of bikes to assemble. After leaving, the road captain will wait until the rear guard signals that everyone is ready and in place before accelerating to highway speed.