It’s high time I wrote about motorcycling again isn’t it? Yes, it is!
I passed the standard motorcycle test back in the late seventies when I was … well… much younger. Back then it was a simple affair of riding around the block a few times while the examiner stood on the corner observing and writing notes on his clipboard. These days the requirements are much more stringent: there is Compulsory Basic Training, a theory test and an observed practical ride. Having gotten my license the old way I don’t need to do any of these, but I do need to brush up on my skills and I want to elevate my riding to the highest possible standard. Doing so will make me more confident, safer, and just as importantly it maximises the enjoyment and satisfaction you get out of riding.
MAM are a local biker group affiliated to the IAM, and they are dedicated to improving the safety of all members by fostering higher standards of riding. I’m about halfway through a course of four observed rides, where every Saturday morning I go out with an observer and we ride around for a couple of hours, me leading and he observing what I do and giving me tips and areas to work on for improvement. The advice is great and virtually free too. The observers do it for love and receive no payment save a contribution towards their expenses. In between course rides I practice what I’ve learned every time I go out, and I can feel my riding getting better steadily, although you still have days when nothing seems to go right.
Our bible is Motorcycle Roadcraft: The Police Rider’s Handbook. The system described by Roadcraft has been honed by years of police riding experience and gives you a systematic way of dealing whatever the road might throw at you. Sounds simple but to get it right requires very high levels of concentration, and consistently too. Let you concentration slip for just a couple of seconds and you’re immediately back bumbling along and reacting to the antics other road users pull. But get it right, and your riding acquires a smoothness that leaves you always in the right place at the right time, and able to deftly handle any hazard.
I’m hoping that by the end of the four rides the observers will tell me I’m ready to apply for the test. Practice Practice Practice!