Ever wonder what the ‘second man drop-off system’ is?
I had never come across it until I joined my local H.O.G. Chapter a few years back… a system that is employed on every ride-out. In principle, it means that every rider plays his or her part to avoid anyone getting lost.
You may be thinking, why not simply stick together, but of course that is never possible when you have roundabouts, crossroads, traffic built-up and other road-user considerations. That is when the second rider, having been ‘dropped off’, acts as a visible signpost for the following riders. How that works is that the designated lead biker points out the spot where the ‘second man drop-off’ should stop, remain in position and use his arm to to point out the direction of travel until the last biker before the Tail End CHarliehas passed them.
I was on a run recently with the Lincolnshire brach of the Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists, who run monthly Associate and social ride-outs. Early on a damp, misty Sunday morning I set off for the WAVE, the meeting point and café zone opposite RAF Waddington. I could hardly make them all out as I drove round the expansive car park. I say ‘make them all out’ because, somewhat surprisingly, 25 riders had decided to attend. The majority had carried out the riding system previously, but several had not, so it was a good opportunity for them to learn a new skill set and the rest of us to practice what we had already learnt.
With an introductory briefing and the designated ‘Ride Leader’ and ‘Tail End Charlie’ in hi-viz duly appointed, we set off into the gloom. At each staging point the Ride Leader pointed to the side of the road, when the second rider would pull over in a safe place, visible to the other riders, and indicate the direction of travel. With the approach of the Tail End Charlie, the rider would duly pull out in front of him, joining the back of the queue. And so on…
The only concern I saw was that some riders ahead of me were unsure of the staggered riding technique, with every other rider in either position one (kerbside) or three (centre line).
Apart from that, it all worked really well and everyone was happy… apart from one rider who dropped his bike at a junction, having misjudged the camber, with only minor damage caused to a pannier and ego.
If you get the chance, try it…. no, not dropping the bike!
Here’s video of the day…