The Drop Off System is a really simple way of keeping a group of riders together, and on route.
This is a commonly used system in group ride out’s, but everybody within the group needs to understand the system in order to avoid anyone getting lost.
If you're coming on a tour, we may use this system to keep the tour group together, so please read through the following and have a look at the video, so you understand how the system works.
There are 3 types of rider within this system:
The system requires there to be one person at the front of the group (the tour leader) who will be familiar with the route and will always stay at the front of the group and will navigate the way.
The system also requires 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 rest of the group, the rider behind the tour leader (the marker) will stop in a safe place and indicate the route direction to the rest of the group. Sometimes, the Leader may point to a good marking position. If you are in any doubt whether you should mark a junction or not, err on the side of caution and mark the junction.
It is imperative that the marker stops in a position where following riders will see him/her easily as they approach the junction!
At junctions, the marker would usually stop in a safe place before the junction, indicating the turn with an outstretched arm and/or flashing indicator. At roundabouts, the marker would normally stop just into the exit of the roundabout. If there is no marker at a junction or roundabout, then the direction to go will be 'straight on'.
The whole group must pass ‘the marker’ except the backmarker. The marker then re-joins the ride in front of ‘the backmarker’. This approach involves the entire group and the markers get rotated from front to back and gradually move up to the front again.
This system works extremely well, however it does rely on everybody understanding the methods and doing their part in looking after their fellow riders within the group. Although I appreciate this system is not fool proof, I believe this to be the best one and it 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). Everybody else (the markers) can ride at their own pace and overtake each other (safely) or stop for quick photos etc.