Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Ride to Advanced

I’ve been a bit remiss in keeping these up to date, my last post spoke about the EDAM Miss Laidlaw trophy which was a break in the standard proceedings, as was today’s ride which was also connected to the Miss Laidlaw trophy.

There are two trophies on offer for the annual award, which are held for a year after the competition. As I mentioned when I posted about the original trophy day it starts with a test paper and slow riding work with cones. The trophies are split between full members (who have passed the IAM motorcycle test) and associates (who are working up to the IAM Motorcycle test), and as I learned in a phone call a couple of Fridays ago, I was one of the top associates in the first part. What then follows is an assessment of my road riding by one of the observers, and I guess then that the combined results come together to give a winner. The full members get the “priviledge” of a police rider taking them out for their assessed run!

So I was out for my ride at half ten this morning, with Simon who is the observer who got to take out the associates. We rode a loop which included a bit of town riding, dual carriageway, country and town again. We had speed limits of 30, 40, 60 and 70, traffic lights, roundabouts, and also a bit of aftermath of muck spreading on a road to Penicuik. One thing about bikes is that because you are outside under your helmet, you get the full effect of smells. Isn’t the countryside wonderful!

We stopped back at the Dreghorn Little Chef and ran through the ride, with my usual habits coming out, I can be a bit on the slow side and can sometimes lock on to the front instead of looking around to benefit more from the side view. I could observe the distance better and make use of what I see. All bits I need to work on, and a good steady ride apart from a bit of madness at the end where I went for it in front of a Volvo on the bypass. A bit too much haste there!

The sixth ride a couple of weeks ago was with another observer, Stuart. We did a bit of town work and some slow riding, which was quite interesting. The slow riding practice included a bit of stop / start routine, which is all to do with stopping and moving off safely. This involves covering brakes and checking all around, while generally avoiding toppling over. The slow riding included riding along while Stuart walked at different speeds, and then riding round in circles clockwise and anticlockwise in ever decreasing circles while trying to keep the bike upright instead of leaning. Another good week, with one or two pointers and lots of practice to go.

The seventh week involved Bob the Senior Observer and Dave the trainee observer, and catching up with the weekly Roadcraft and Highway Code questions which I should have been filling out. Part of Observing is having various local routes up your sleeve that include features that will test the candidates abilities to handle different situations, while keeping the run at a manageable length to stop and debrief a couple of times and keep the overall time within limits of just under two hours. Bob illustrated one of his nasty (ish) routes that challenge cornering ability, both with a twisty A road with lots of chevrons etc, and also a wee twisty B road which really tests you. Needless to say I found them quite a challenge and it gave me plenty to work on, I need to get smoother with my cornering and make the best use of observation to get the best out of my cornering. The run also showed up one or two inadequacies in my slow riding which tends to be used at junctions. I’d taken a long weekend to do some riding, so managed to get out about three or four days running to practice.

All in all I know I need to work on a number of areas, but you always do in motorcycling, and I don’t think I’m too bad for someone who has effectively been riding for just under a year. I’ve had a good few weeks and I’ve got stuff to work on during my commute to work.