The Buddy System

Or how not to get lost on a ride

The "Buddy" system is an easy to remember idea for stopping riders from getting lost when a large group of riders go out together. It goes something like this:

  • There will be a leader. He knows the route and will lead the way ALL THE TIME.
  • There will be a rider who stays at the back ALL THE TIME. Make sure you find out who that is before the ride starts. They will be known as the "Back Marker" or “Tail End Charlie (TEC)”.
  • At each corner or roundabout, the leader will point to the bend in the road. It is then the responsibility of the SECOND rider to stop there and point the way for all the other riders. He (or she) stays there until the back marker has passed. Only then will the rider move off and (eventually) overtake the back marker.
  • The rider who was third is now second and will stop at the next corner which the leader points to.

    And so it goes on. Everyone (except the first and last riders) gets a turn at stopping and we all get to where we are going.

Note1: If you move off before you have seen the back marker, everyone who has not appeared will get lost. Think about it. Think how popular you will be! So, please make sure you know who is at the back (the TEC).

Note 2: When you stop at the corner, make sure you can be seen by the following riders who appear. So, stop just before (on a left hand corner or roundabout exit) or just after (on a right hand corner) the bend. But make sure you can be seen.

Note 3: If you (as third rider) see that the second one has not stopped, then you should do so.

Note 4: If the back marker overtakes a stationary rider and is not overtaken by them before the next turning point, the back marker will wave the stationary rider on and will himself then wait until the people behind have caught up and overtaken.

Note 5: The other riders should be looking out for the person who has stopped and should NOT just follow the bike in front.

If a rider stops and is not in serious trouble, he or she should wave the others on. The back marker should stop and ascertain the problem and, if necessary, stay with the rider. He (or she) should try and radio up to the others with the problem and, from that, determine if the rest should stop or carry on.

There is a variation on this where each person keeps an eye on the person behind. If they cannot see them, they slow down until they can. We do not use this as we find the "pure" Buddy System works well.

What we do ask is that if you decide to overtake the rider in front of you, please be mindful of their riding skills. We have all sorts, from beginners to instructors, and it can get unnerving unless your overtake is safe and the person in front is expecting it. So for example, no overtaking if there are double whites please,   - even if there is room; no overtaking when going into bends since the person in front will have set their line and you may upset them by suddenly appearing when not expected. In general - just be careful!

What all this means is that you can ride at your own pace and still not get lost. So, there is NEVER any need to "keep up" and you can ride to your own limits - not someone else's.

There is a button “Video” at the top of this page which, when clicked, shows you, in a pictorial manner, how you do left and right hand turns. When asked, just open the file. There's also a PDF which you can download.