If you’ve been following these posts you will know that I signed up for the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists / Motorcyclists) route to an Advance Motorcycle Test, a method that relies on the talents of local volunteers to check over your standard of riding.
The terminology they use is that currently I am an “Associate”, with Membership coming with a successful pass of the Advanced Test. Volunteers that help with the process are called Observers, and there are also Senior Observers and a Chief Observer who coordinates standards. Trainee Observers start by being Members, and work through the process of learning to set routes for Associates, talking through their ride, how to watch what we are up to etc.
While I’m in the process of waiting for an allocated Observer, I’m tagging along to make the best of the weekly opportunities. Today worked out quite well for my tagging along, I joined an associated that was well along in the process to his test, together with a Trainee Observer and one of the Senior Observers.
Being on the third week of this process means I am still on the learning curve with how things work, and I was a bit slow in the uptake today. I don’t know the parts of Southern Edinburgh well enough to match the descriptions to places I know, and frankly some places I’ve never ever been to anyway, so it is mainly a case of keeping someone in view and then getting on with the ride. But I got into the stride of things and tagged along with the ride, the Associate up front, Trainee Observer behind, then me and the Senior Observer too. And once I got into things it went well, the first part of the ride was fine and I didn’t feel too left behind. Then when we parked up in an industrial estate, the Trainee Observer talked through the ride, and then the Senior Observer did a followup.
The Observer system is deliberately not called Training, for historical reasons I haven’t looked into fully yet and is a ride and debrief model along a chosen route. The debrief plays back the ride, observing how the Associate rode compared to Roadcraft and the highway code. Then as an Associate you see what you need to work on, then off on another stretch again. And repeat! I seemed to get on ok, and had remembered the bits I hadn’t done so well, like wandering over the lanes in a roundabout a bit without checking my blind spots. I’m also sharpening up on looking before a move or change in speed, and not the other way round. I also got asked how long I’d been riding, and I think I need to come up with a simpler explanation of my situation. I passed my test 10 years ago, and didn’t ride again until I got my own bike last November. I’ve been riding each month since, but that is really it.
Then a run down to Peebles with opportunities to practice positioning and one or two overtakes, I’m happy ish with positioning, but overtaking is still an experience after being a car driver for years. The accelleration of a bike is still something to get used to, and also understanding the difference to safe overtakes that this makes. Basically, in one or two areas I need to get on with things and not dawdle.
A stop in Peebles with another double debrief, then off to Penicuik, a stop there to chat and then off. The stop in Penecuik was a good stop to talk about Observations with the Trainee Observer, and really illustrated the difference in what can be seen by moving position just a pace or two to the left. We looked at a slight right hand turn in town, and moving to the left showed a number of extra items to see.
Another particularly enjoyable run.