I am often leading or "Tail-End-Charlie" for group rides - out tomorrow with a Group of 20 riders, for example.
We typically use the 'Drop Off" system to manage the ride, stay as one Group and all end up where we planned, together.
I will use this system for larger Brit-In-The-Basque tour Groups, so thought you would like to read about it!
How it works
The Drop off system will be explained to all riders in a briefing at the start of the ride, where riders should get to know their colleagues - I tend to remember their bikes, as most bikers look the same on the road....
The group will have a designated 'Ride Leader' and a 'Back Marker' (often called “Tail end Charlie”). The positions of these two riders will not change throughout the run. They will be introduced to all the riders in that group and be easily identified by a day-glow jacket, using spotlights or other identifier, if possible.
Riders in the group may alter their own relative positions (overtaking) as they see fit whilst out on the road providing they always remain between "The Ride Leader" and "Back Marker", and they do not upset other riders in the Group.
When the Ride Leader makes a direction change at a junction or roundabout the new direction of travel should be marked by the rider directly behind the ride leader, (The Marker). 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 the following riders.
It is most important that the Marker stops in a position where :-
It is safe to do so and they do not put themselves at any risk
The rest of the ride can see them clearly as they approach the direction change
They use a clear signal to show the direction - put out your arm please!
They do not break the law - no holding back traffic or stopping where you would not
The Marker should maintain that position until he/she can rejoin the rear of the section in front of the approaching Back Marker. The Back Marker will always try to give sufficient space for this to happen otherwise the Marker - worst case, the Marker will allow the Back Marker to pass, then overtake when a suitable opportunity presents itself, thus re-establishing the correct running order.
It could happen that number two rider forgets to mark a direction change - in which case the next rider (Number three) should take it upon himself to drop off and mark the direction change to prevent the chain from breaking. It is always better to mark all direction changes rather than assume that the route is so obvious it is not worth doing.
My thanks to SERV for the content of this post