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What is the Cornerman System and how does it work?

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

The Cornerman System is a process for a large group of riders to remain together while navigating through roads or trails.


It’s a great way to follow a route led by a lead rider without needing devices such as GPS or mobiles.


If you’ve heard the term and Googled it, it’s not a device at all; it’s a process.

How does it work?

The system has three parts: Lead Rider, a group of 3 or more riders, and the Sweep rider.


The Lead Rider, hopefully, knows the route and leads the way. When the lead approaches a corner or changes direction, they direct the rider following them to be the next Cornerman. The Cornerman then directs the following riders by pointing their bike in the direction to follow. The rider remains in that position until the Sweep arrives and releases them to join the rear of the group.


How do you use it?

To use the system, you need to select a Lead and at least one Sweep rider. It is a significant advantage if the Lead and Sweeps riders can communicate through a Sena or similar so that the Lead can adjust the pace or stop if needed.


The lead rider simply follows the path, and then when they get to a corner, direct the rider behind them to point in the direction they go.


The Cornerman needs to position their bike so that riders easily see them. The direction should be clear, and use hand signals for clarity if it’s not apparent. You can also use indicators for clarity.


As a sweep rider, you then simply pick up each Cornerman as you follow the proceeding riders. If riders experience issues, then an experienced rider as the Sweep is an advantage to help keep the group moving through repairs or even First Aid. In the case of an emergency, the Sweep would organise help.


When reaching waypoints in the journey, count the number of riders to ensure no one is missing.


Ensure all riders can identify the Sweep easily to avoid confusion.


Pros and Cons

Advantages

  • All riders get to mix up their positions, so you’re not stuck at the front or the back.

  • There is no need to share GPX files or waypoints, although that’s still a good idea for redundancy.

  • Riders within the group can just relax and follow the rider in front.

Disadvantages

  • Someone needs to be the Lead and Sweep, and you need at least three riders in the group for the system to be effective.

  • Some Cornerman may be better than others at directing. Unclear directions can confuse following riders.

  • The system will fail if a Cornerman leaves their position before the Sweep arrives, resulting in riders getting lost.

Conclusion

Assuming the lead rider knows where they are going, this is a straightforward and effective way to keep a group of riders on track without the need for devices. It’s a simple way to create an enjoyable experience for riders within the group.


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