Riding in a group is a great experience, however does have its challenges. From a safety perspective, it is extremely important that everyone rides within their own capability and at a speed they are comfortable with.
In larger groups the distance between the first and last rider can stretch over many kilometers. So how do we keep everyone together on a Rideout? How do we avoid anyone getting lost?
We use a system called the "Back Marker System" to keep the group together. It is a commonly used system and works extremely well when everyone in the group understands and follows the system. This method allows everybody to ride at their own pace within the group.
There is 3 "types" of rider in the Back Marker System:
- The Leader is always the lead bike.
- The Back Marker is always the last bike.
- A Marker can be anyone else within the group.
The Leader plans the trip and navigates the way. They will be familiar with the route and will always stay at the front of the group. No one should ever overtake the leader!
The Back Marker stays at the back of the group and is always the last rider. He/she will stay at the back of the group throughout the entire ride. On our rideouts the Back Marker generally wears an orange vest to make them more easily identifiable to members of the group.
These are the only two riders who remain in their position within the group.
At a turn in the route or any other change of direction, the Leader will indicate to the rider directly behind him (the Marker) to stop in a safe place and indicate the route to following riders.
All riders in the group, except the Back Marker then pass the Marker. As the the Back Marker approaches, he will indicate to the Marker to join the group in front of him.
So what actually happens in the group is that the first and last riders stay in position, while the second rider drops to second last, and then steadily moves up the group again. It looks like art when done properly!
When everyone understands and follows the system it is extremely effective in keeping the group together while making rapid progress.