THE SECOND MAN DROP OFF SYSTEM
The Drop off system is designed so a group of riders can make progress safely without getting split up, lost and most of all, without putting pressure on the less experienced riders in the group.
Firstly, you must have a dedicated lead rider who should be experienced enough to lead a large group and must also know the route. Secondly, you must have a dedicated last man (Tail end Charlie) who must also be an experienced rider and know, or have access to details of the route.
During the ride these two riders do not change their position within the group. Ideally the lead rider and tail end Charlie should be easily identifiable and would also benefit from some form of communication between them i.e. bike to bike radio or at least the ability to use their mobile phones to make contact via bluetooth headsets.
All other riders within the group will rotate the position accordingly as follows:
When the ride sets off it is advisable to fall into a staggered formation as this allows you to close up and dominate your road space as a group, especially on faster flowing roads such as auto routes etc. but you must always use the 2 second rule (see Highway Code) as this gives you a larger margin for error, i.e. the correct stopping distance. When the group approaches a fixed hazard (junction, set of traffic lights and major or minor turnings) the Lead Rider will indicate to the second rider to pull over safely into the side and stop.
This rider then directs all the subsequent riders in the right direction. Once all but the tail end Charlie has passed him/her he then rejoins the group taking up position in front of the tail end Charlie. At roundabouts the Second man will be dropped off at the exit only so as not to cause confusion and put riders at risk on the approach to the hazard.
To add confidence, you may also drop a rider off at the side of a road to let all the other riders know that they are on course if you are on a long A/B Road. This routine is then repeated over and over without any of the group stopping. This system takes practice to work effectively and to gain confidence in as the group may be spread over a few miles but still be able to follow the lead rider with no problems.
The drop off system is used extensively by various motorcycle clubs and organisations and is very effective. Please have confidence in it and under no circumstances must you rejoin the group before you see the last man as it will split the group as they wont know what direction to take.