Understanding The Drop-off (Marker) System

Understanding the Marker system is important, as every rider needs to do their part to avoid anyone getting lost.

How It Works

Each group will have a designated ‘Ride Leader’ and a ‘Tail End Charlie’. 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, when the leader briefs the group on the ride.

Whenever or wherever there is a change of direction at junctions, and all roundabouts, the rider, (now referred to as “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.
  • They do not obstruct any other road users.
  • 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 hands.

When the Tail End Charlie approaches the Marker, the Marker 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 re-join the traffic when possible and take up position in front of the Tail End Charlie as soon as it is safe to do so. It could happen that the 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 be the marker, and mark the direction change to prevent the chain from breaking.

This approach involves the entire group and the Marker gets rotated from front to back and naturally moves up to the front.

Some points:

  • If you are unsure on any aspect of the ride, always ask advice or clarification. Safety is always paramount.
  • Please arrive with a full tank of petrol and an empty bladder.
  • Inform the Leader if you are running low on petrol during the ride
  • If you are unsure as to whether you should mark a junction, then mark it anyway. It is better to mark a junction that doesn’t need marking than not to mark one that does.
  • A roundabout, or crossroads where you do not have priority, should be marked by parking in a safe visible position on the exit. Should a junction or roundabout not be marked, the default action is to continue straight ahead.
  • There is no need to play catch–up. With the drop off system there will be a Marker waiting for you at the next junction.
  • Everyone should keep a safe distance behind the rider in front.
  • A staggered riding formation may be adopted where appropriate to aid forward visibility and transit through traffic lights.
  • Avoid ‘follow my leader’ riding/convoy style riding, which could lull you into unsafe/unaware riding
    Ride your own Ride.
  • When you are the Marker, wait for Tail End Charlie to arrive, even if this takes a long time. There may be a breakdown further back which you are unaware of. If necessary switch off your engine. If you leave your position everyone behind will suffer and the run will fall apart.
  • 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.
  • If you want to leave the group, inform the Leader and Tail End Charlie at a rest stop. If unavoidable, you may pull in to the left in a safe, visible position and wave other riders past; when Tail End Charlie arrives he will stop and you can then inform him/her that you are leaving the group and why.
  • Riders are reminded that they must obey all relevant UK road traffic laws. They are to observe the Highway Code and heed the warnings displayed on roadside signs and signals (e.g. Local and national speed limits).
  • And finally, be sure to listen to your Ride Leader before the start of the ride to ensure he/she has not made any changes to these procedures. Obeying these simple rules will ensure that our ride outs will be safe and pleasurable.

Here is a couple of videos which help to explain it visually. Please note that these are not created by LAM and are used only as guides.

In this first video notice how long it can take for all the riders to go past you. It is important to wait until the Tail End Charlie arrives and indicates for you to go. If you leave too early there is the potential the group will get split up and riders will get lost.

In this second video there is an example of how not to position yourself as a marker. Watch from about 50 seconds into the video – the Ride Leader indicates for the marker to position himself on the left, but the maker moves to unsafe position in the middle of the road. Pay attention to where the Ride Leader tells you to be positioned.

The Test

Now that you have read through this page and watched the videos, it’s time to test your knowledge…

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