I thought I would take some time to post some group-riding tips for newbies. Most come from personal experience, one of which resulted in a crash that could have been much worse.
1) For the first year or two of riding try to stick to newbie-only rides. (I will be posting several of these this year, along with some basic "rules". Experienced riders will be invited to find their own group.)
2) Try to stick to groups of five or less. While it is extremely cool to motor down the #1 in a formation of 20 bikes, the rubber band effect in the corners can have you riding up someone's ass before you know it.
3) If you do go on a ride with experienced riders do not, I repeat do not, attempt to keep up if you feel even the slightest twinge of discomfort at the pace. You won't have the same confidence in the capability of you or your bike to make corners at the same speed. (That is exactly what happened to me, and I panicked and ran wide off the road. I was lucky, but your first wide corner could be your last.)
4) Maintain a proper staggered formation on the freeway drone, but for god's sake move to single file when you hit the twisties. I saw this several times on rides last year where riders were maintaining the stagger in the corners. The last thing you need while trying to concentrate on your line is to worry about maintaining a formation with the guy ahead of you. It also forces you to take a line through the corners which may not be optimum.
5) Unless you are a natural you may tend to find yourself looking at the guy ahead of you instead of as far around the corner as you can. When this happens increase your spacing a little to give you a larger space margin then concentrate on sighting your line, not your buddy. At least get him far enough ahead that by looking at him you are also looking around the corner!
6) There is no shame in leaving a group if you are uncomfortable with the way the ride is going. No one will be offended. If they are, then you don't want to ride with them anyway.
That's it, for now. You'll notice I didn't say "Ride your own ride" or some other pablum slogan. Personally I find that to be b.s. unless you know what it means. Those tips above are my idea of what it means.
I look forward to riding with some fellow newbies this year. Ride safe, guys and gals!