The drop off system or marking system explained
We operate a 2nd man drop off system in order to keep the group together, this is a commonly used system in group ride out’s. Everybody within the group needs to understand and participate in the system in order to avoid anyone getting lost.
The tour leader will set a moderate to brisk pace so that the group spreads out over a few miles. That way everybody is riding their own road, it also allows other traffic to overtake safely and also allows everybody space to ride their own road, at their own pace instead of getting dragged along in convoy.
There are 3 types of rider within the system:
1) The tour Leader – The tour leader is always the lead bike.
2) The back marker – The back marker is always the last bike.
3) The Marker – Markers are anybody else within the group.
The system requires you have one person at the front of the group (the tour leader) who will be familiar with the route and will navigate the way.
The system also requires you have one person at the back of the group (the backmarker), who will stay at the back of the group throughout the entire ride. These are the only two riders who remain in their position within the group.
At a junction, a roundabout, fork in the road, or any change of direction that may not be obvious to the rest of the group. The rider directly behind the tour leader (the marker) must find a safe place stop and indicate the route direction to the rest of the group. If it’s your turn to mark a junction think of your own safety first and only mark the junction where it’s safe to do so. (If for some reason the marker forgets to mark a junction and you are the person behind the marker (third person) then you should mark the junction.
The whole group must pass ‘the marker’ except for the backmarker. The marker then re-joins the group in front of ‘the backmarker’.
This approach involves the entire group and means that the markers get rotated from front to back and gradually move up to the front again.
This method works extremely well and we have ridden in large groups all over Europe and Morocco without anybody getting lost. However, it does rely on everybody understanding the system and doing their part and looking after their fellow riders within the group.
This method allows everybody to ride at their own pace within the group as long as the ‘tour leader’ is always at the front and ‘the backmarker’ is always the last bike. Then everybody else (the markers) can ride at their own pace and overtake each other (safely) or stop for quick photos etc.
If this sounds confusing to you don’t worry, in practice, it’s very simple.
Remember – if you ever
1) Feel hurried or pressured to ride faster than you want to ride, then you have misunderstood the marking system.
2) Feel like you are playing ‘catch up’ then you have misunderstood the marking system.
3) Feel like you need to go faster to catch up with the bike in front of you even if it’s the tour leader (if you lose sight of the tour leader don’t panic he or she will be marking the next junction)
4) Feel pressured to ride faster because a quicker or more experienced rider has caught you up, then you have misunderstood the marking system.
5) Feel as though the tour leader or other group members are riding too fast, then you have misunderstood the marking system.
Even though we operate this system, you need to appreciate that this method isn’t foolproof and people do occasionally get lost, after all, there is only so much the tour leader can do from the front. If everybody looks after each other in the group and mark’s junctions correctly it seldom happens, but if you do take a wrong turn then DON’T PANIC! Look upon it as an adventure!
If the system breaks down you need to be prepared, it’s your responsibility to ensure you have a Map or Sat Nav with you.
You need to be aware that it’s not always possible for the tour leader to come and find you if you get separated from the group. In reality, unless you have only gone wrong by a few miles, or unless we can meet up at some kind of landmark along the way that is well signposted you are going to have to self-navigate to the hotel.
Remember to just RIDE YOUR OWN ROAD and at your own pace, that way everybody will have the maximum amount of fun, but more importantly stay safe.
Although we seldom use motorways, however, they are occasionally a necessary evil. We do not operate the marking system whilst riding on the motorway. There are 2 main reasons for this, firstly it is illegal to stop on a motorway unless it’s an emergency, and secondly, motorway slip roads are extremely dangerous places to stop.
TIP: It’s difficult to stay together on motorways especially if you leave a large gap between bikes so try to ride in a staggered formation. (See image below )
Riding in a group
Whenever there is a group of riders, you will inevitably get a wide range of experience and riding abilities. If you haven’t ridden in a group before you shouldn’t feel intimidated by the prospect. Riding in a group is easy just remember to ride at your own speed. Never feel pressured or compelled to ride faster than you are comfortable with and do not try to keep up with a faster more experienced rider. We have seen this happen many times and it normally only leads to one thing, disaster! Always remember to ‘ride your own road’. For instance just because a bike in front of you overtakes a car doesn’t mean you can follow after without checking for yourself you have enough space to safely overtake. This is probably the number one cause of accidents we have seen while group riding, check it’s safe to overtake first!
Our Escorted tours give you the opportunity to navigate using our comprehensive GPS data. The tour guide will be in charge of hotel check-ins/outs, and will also be riding the same or similar route each day in case of emergency. What usually happens is the group will break down into smaller groups of 4 or 5 riders and then ride together at a pace that suits them, stopping when and where they choose. Don’t worry if you are coming alone and don’t know anybody else there is always somebody to ride with, you can also ride with the guide if you wish. Nobody has to ride alone unless they want to of course!
On some of our tours, we use a combination of the two systems explained, the marking system and Escorted. For example, the guide will send the group off ahead, or mark a junction and wave the group on, then follow along behind as backmarker. Sometimes the guide will nip to the front of the group again to mark the next junction. Or ask the group to meet up at a landmark along the way. This works especially well if it’s a long or easy section of road.