Posted by Alex Stewart on 17th February 2015
This winter seems to be dragging more than usual but light and warmth is (hopefully) not that far away. I posted on Twitter (@motoboxuk) that Spring 2015 starts on Friday 20th March….that’s 31 days away…roll on I say.
For me riding is an escape, the dark winter months can interupt this…..pulling on my helmet takes me away from all things routine or mundane, when I’m riding alone I think of nothing more than the ride itself….road position, speed, mirrors, road position, speed, mirrors that’s my mantra whether I’m being progressive or having a bimble, those 3 things fill my thoughts as I enjoy the feeling of a well ridden corner or perfectly timed overtake. Kids, mortgage, work, business stresses disappear with a turn of the throttle.
Some bikers only ever ride alone, a number of Motobox UK rental bike customers will always tour on their own, but for me a mix of both is best, riding a great road is fun but it can be just as good to talk about the good, bad and ugly afterwards over a coffee. When my biking buddies moved away or hung up their helmets I joined a few online forum/bike clubs and now go out on a number of group rides throughout the year but it wasn’t a successful start….if you are new to biking or thinking of joining a group ride then you’ll need to know the ‘Drop Off System’, I didn’t when I first joined a ride out and managed to lose half the group 5 miles in to a 60 mile ride!
As long as you know how it works this System for group riding ensures progress is made even though there may be quite some distance between the Ride Leader and the Tail End Charlie (back marker).
The idea of the drop off system is to provide a series of moveable signposts for all the riders in the group to follow, irrespective of any gaps which have occurred on the ride. It takes into consideration that the ride can get strung out over a long distance due to a variety of reasons and allows riders of different proficiency to ride at their own pace without worrying about keeping up or getting lost on unfamiliar roads.
The ride out will have a designated ‘Ride Leader’ and a ‘Tail End Charlie’. The positions of these two riders will not change throughout the run and they will be introduced to all the riders in the group at the start of the ride.
Whenever or wherever there is a change of direction at junctions, and all roundabouts, the number 2 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 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 indicators, hands and or bike.
When the Tail End Charlie approaches the Marker, the Marker should take up position in front of the Tail-End-Charlie. 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.
The entire group and the Marker get rotated from front to back and naturally move up to the front again.
My mistake was forgetting who the Tail End Charlie was and leaving my ‘Marker position’ before the whole group had come past….we all met up again about 2 hours later at a junction near our original destination!
I personally think a group of 4-6 is ideal especially if you’re of similar riding style… but as one chap in the club says ‘drop off system….nah, just KEEP the F#%! UP’
We are starting to take deposits on confirmed rental bookings for Summer 2015 so if you are thinking of hiring a bike this year don’t delay get in touch!
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