Motorcycle Council of NSW Recreational Trail Bike Riders Sub-Committee

The Corner Man system is probably the most effective transit process to keep a group of riders flowing.  Simply, it has a Lead rider and a Sweep rider and everyone else in between are cornermen.

The Lead Rider

Rule Number 1: NEVER pass the Lead Rider

The lead rider’s job is control the direction of the ride, the pace of the ride and safety of the ride.  You go past the Lead ride and you immediately lose every one of those aspects of the ride.  You put yourself at great risk if you pass the Lead rider.

The Sweep Rider

Rule Number 2: ALWAYS wait for the Sweep Rider

The sweep rider is the guy at the back of the group. He deals calmly with every situation from the joy of flat tyres and broken bikes, to the poor bloke in slightly over his head and struggling on the steep slippery hills, or the lost or broken riders. He knows his way around the forest as well as the lead rider or better. He can fix your broken bike with a cable tie, some tie wire, and a piece of duct tape, or by releasing the killswitch properly after you’ve removed the petrol tank and replaced the plug three times because your bike wouldn’t start after you turned it off. Interestingly the first time you get help from the sweep you realise you should at least carry an axle spanner, some tyre levers and a few spanners. So that by the time he gets to you and your flat tyre you at least have the wheel off, and haven’t sat around on your butt for twenty minutes, which amazingly is twice the time it takes him to fix your flat and send you on your way again. The last time you changed your tyre in the shed it took you an hour and a half and you pinched the tube three times.

The Cornerman

Rule Number 3: A cornerman NEVER leaves their corner

When the Lead rider puts you on a corner or a potential hazard, acknowledge the Lead that you have seen their instruction (wave) and then take your position and stay there until the sweep rider moves you on. No sweep rider means you don’t move, for four hours if necessary. This means there’s a flat tyre, a lost rider, or worse, an emergency (link this to Accident and Emergency Procedure below) holding him up. A UHF radio (link this to Communication) can help with the frustration of this wait.

The Cornerman Process – the really, really important bit…

It’s actually simple, you follow the Lead rider and they will indicate a location and point to where you need to stop.  You DO NOT keep following the Lead, you STOP! Your job is to direct the following riders in the same direction that the Lead has gone.  To do this you MUST park your bike facing in the direction the following riders must go (following the Leader) or even use your bike to block an alternate path.  The cornerman should also be clearly visible to approaching riders from a distance ample for them to come to a halt or corner safely. This may mean walking back around a blind corner, or placing the bike further back up the track. If he wants riders to slow down he should signal with a patting down motion of his hand. If he wants them to stop he should hold his hand up. Signals should be given early and clearly. If there is any doubt about the direction of travel, the cornerman should point the way. You stay at this location until the Sweep rider comes to you.  Be prepared to move but DO NOT move until the Sweep riders indicates that you are good to go, usually by waving.  If necessary you remain here until either the Sweep comes through or the Lead rider returns.  Possible issues with other riders might make this a long wait.

  • Cornermen are the links in the chain and if one breaks the whole group can be scattered.
  • In some cases with large groups, the Lead rider may put 2 or even 3 people per corner.
  • If you identify a location that you feel is a hazard or corner/intersection that the Lead rider has missed, make yourself a cornerman at that location.
  • If a rider misses the corner you are on, do not leave your corner to pursue them. Let the Sweep know what has happened.

For the remaining riders

While you are waiting your turn to become a cornerman you may proceed on the ride as normal, riding past the assigned cornerman until you are the last rider behind the Lead.  You will then become a cornerman at the Lead’s pleasure.

If you’re unfortunate enough to miss a corner or somehow lose the group, the old rule that Mum told you about applies. Sit tight and wait. You will be missed and someone will come looking. If you keep moving you’ll never be found.