THE SECOND MAN DROP OFF SYSTEM
The Drop off system is designed so a group of riders can make progress safely, swiftly and to prevent getting separated, lost and most of all, without putting pressure on the less experienced or progressive riders in the group.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
During the ride the lead rider (tour guide) and a nominated rider at the rear (tail end Charlie) 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, such as 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 (the rider currently behind the lead rider) to pull over safely into the side and stop, ensuring that he is a) not obstructing the flow of traffic or b) so far into a junction or behind an obstacle that the rest of the riders in the group can’t see him/her
This rider then directs all the subsequent riders in the direction of the leader, either by using hand signals or leaving the indicator on in the direction he has gone. Once all but the tail end Charlie has passed him/her the rider 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 so it is important to look ahead and as far as you can see in order not to head straight over the roundabout, especially in a situation where the lead rider has taken the 3rd exit for example.
To add confidence, the lead rider may also drop a rider off at the side of a road periodically to let all the other riders know that they are still on the correct route, for example; when you are on a long A/B Road and you haven’t seen any riders for some time. 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 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 and they wont know what direction to take.