When on club rideouts, it is to hopefully become common practice for Cleveland Advanced Motorcyclists to use the “Drop Off System” of group riding. This ensures progress whilst allowing the group to stay together even though there may be quite some distance between the Run Leader and the Tail End Charlie.
The whole idea behind the drop off system is to provide a series of moveable signposts for all the riders in the group to follow, irrespective of any gaps which may have occurred in the ride, so that riders don’t have to “keep up” with the rider in front. It acknowledges the fact that the ride can (and will) get strung out over a long distance due to a variety of reasons – e.g. road works, traffic lights, give way junctions, roundabouts etc. Also, not all riders will have access to a map case on their bike and might be on unfamiliar roads.
It allows the inexperienced rider to ride at their own pace without worrying about keeping up, getting lost, or which way to go.
How It Works – Each group will have a designated ‘Ride Leader’ and a ‘Tail End Charlie’ (or back marker). The positions of these two riders will not change throughout the run. They will be introduced to all the riders in the group at the start of the run and can be easily identified by a day-glow jacket or other identifier if possible.
Whenever or wherever there is a change of direction at junctions and all roundabouts, the rider (Marker) immediately behind the leader will indicate the direction taken by the leader. He stays as a marker for all the following bikes. To do this, the Marker should pull in at the side of the road, in a safe place where he/she will be visible to the rest of the riders, so the direction can be indicated to all the following riders.
It is most important that the marker stops in a position where:- It is safe to do so. They do not put themselves at any risk. The rest of the ride can see them clearly as they approach the direction change. The marker should clearly indicate the direction taken by the leader, using, if necessary, indicators, hands and or bike. When the Tail End Charlie approaches the marker, he/she should take up position in front of the Tail-End-Charlie. The Tail End Charlie should leave enough space for this to happen.
If it is not safe to pull out in front of the Tail End Charlie then the Marker should rejoin the traffic when possible and take up position in front of the Tail End Charlie as soon as safe to do so. This simple technique of riding allows the group of bikes to stay together, even though they may be spread out. It could happen that number two rider (The Marker) forgets to mark a direction change – in which case the next rider (Number three) should take it upon themselves to drop off and mark the direction change to prevent the chain from breaking.
Whilst riding in a group, it is important for you to always keep a lookout for the rider behind to ensure their safety and that they are not having problems keeping up with the group. Remember, they may be new to riding in a group and perhaps not as confident as you are.
If possible, it is a good idea for you to stagger your positioning in the group, this allows the rider in front to have good vision of you and traffic behind in his mirror. Riders unfamiliar with the drop off system should start towards the rear of the group so that they can observe the good practice of others before it is their turn to be a Marker.
The group may sometimes become very ‘strung out’, causing anxiety to some riders. The Leader may then decide to stop, in a safe place, to allow the group to re-form before continuing. Speed limits should be observed at all times.
And finally, be sure to listen to your group leader before the start of the ride to ensure he has not made any changes to these procedures.
Obeying these simple rules will ensure that our ride-outs will be safe and pleasurable.