Whilst representing BWAM on organised group rides each individual is responsible for ensuring compliance with legality and safety issues and that their motorcycle is road legal and insured at the time of riding. Prior to the ride the ride leader will give a full briefing and all attendants will have already read and signed for the disclaimer. The leader and tail end rider will both be experienced riders and fully conversant with ride protocols and have the authority of the club to ensure that all riders demonstrate a good standard of advanced riding, having the authority given by the club to exclude any riders who are deemed to be riding to a lower standard, riding in an unsafe manner or affecting ride safety or the reputation of the club and IAM RoadSmart. The leader will cover many areas in the pre ride briefing including planned ride times, stops, ride protocol, overtaking if permitted and how the ride will be managed.
For riders who may be new to group riding and are unfamiliar but have heard of the ‘marker system’ an introduction to the principle is offered here.
Generally, for rides with approximately 8 riders or more the marker system will be used and is a no pressure way of ensuring that all riders take the same route and stay together without feeling the necessity to keep up with the rider in front.
The ride leader when taking a deviation from going straight on will ask the rider behind him/her to stop in a designated area to mark a junction, stopping near where the leader points to but in a position that the marker regards as being a safe stopping place which will be in a place that is easily seen, not hidden, is obvious to followers and is most likely to keep the ride together.
The marker will then turn all indicators and hazards off using an arm signal to point in the desired direction that the ride leader has taken. Turning off bike lights will reduce the chances of confusion for other road users and also other riders.
The marker then waits until all of the riders have passed except for the designated tail ender who will slow down, possibly use a signal of some sort to say that he/she has seen the marker and that the marker can then re-join the ride in front of the tail ender and will then occupy the second from last ride position until the next marker is picked up by the tail ender.
The riders will naturally move up through the ride every time a marker is used eventually becoming rider 2 behind the leader when it will then be time to be placed by the leader as a marker once again.
It is important that the marker always remains in place until relieved by the tail ender no matter how long it takes. If there has been a problem with the ride, a puncture, an incident or whatever there will be no means of retracing steps and regrouping if all of the junctions do not remain marked until officially being stood down.
As a marker will always be marking any deviation there is never a need to feel that any rider has to keep up with the rider in front. If the ride leader has nobody behind then he/she will have no option but to wait for another marker so the system always works provided that all riders do not leave their marking place until told to do so.
For whatever reason, if the back marker has to pass you in the interest of their own safety, they will allow you to catch up and pass them at the appropriate time. This may happen for example at a busy roundabout so please ensure that you are fully aware of who the back marker is.
If having read this, you feel the need to have the system clarified, please do not hesitate to ask the ride leader during the pre ride briefing as everyone needs to know how the ride is governed.
Nigel Williams Chief Observer