“We’re looking for precise riding – I want to see sparkle.”
Here I was, my first ride out with my Skill for Life observer – Andy Greenslade – and we were chatting about the type of thing we’d be covering over the next few months.
I’d decided that I wanted to do my Skill for Life advanced riding course on my motorcycle after completing BikeSafe with Cambridgeshire Police earlier this year. I’d found it so interesting to learn about positioning and roadcraft, so thought that it would be a brilliant way to bring everything together and learn even more.
I’d met with Andy at a Guy Martin Big Brew event and we’d chatted about me completing the course with the Lincolnshire branch… Today was all about riding as I usually would so that he could assess my skill level and get an initial idea as to where I was on the grading system – no pressure then.
Pulling out of the car park, admittedly I was nervous – who wouldn’t be? – but I just concentrated on my riding and tried to take as little notice of him behind me as possible. We did the training without radios so I was reliant on his indicators to know where I was going. We made our way through the Lincolnshire countryside and I tried my best to keep the ride flowing and ‘sparkly’.
We took our helmets off when we’d stopped – it was time for ‘the debrief’. We discussed the things that had gone well and things that could be improved. Overall I’d done well and Andy was happy that we had a good base to polish up my skills and get me that certificate!
The second part of the rideout, I followed Andy and watched his road positioning. He pointed out where he was looking and anything he wanted me to take note of. It was great riding behind him and seeing how it’s done – that would hopefully be me in a few months – it was interesting to watch the way he maintained his 360 degree bubble of safety and anticipated things before they’d even happened.
“I’m always thinking ‘What If’ – could that person pull out? Are they going to open their car door? Is that car waiting there because someone is pulling off their driveway? It’s all about anticipating things that could happen and leaving room for them so you’re not in the middle.” said Andy
After a second debrief and a refuel, I set off home pleased with how it had gone. I’d had a really great ride out and had thoroughly enjoyed it – I couldn’t wait for my next one.
Riding to work this morning, I have been putting into practice everything he taught me and trying to slow ride up to traffic lights and junctions when I can – I didn’t have to put my feet down once. Not bad for a 35 mile commute…
Things I will be working on following my first session:
– Making sure I know road signs
– Practicing slow riding
– Improving my observations – looking over the tops of hedges and across corners
– Keep riding to the system so that it becomes second nature
Want to know more?
The Skill for Life course costs £139 (until October 1, 2014 when it rises to £149) and can be completed with your local branch of the IAM – I’m completing mine with Lincolnshire Advanced Motorists. For more information visit the website:http://www.iam.org/riders/riders-courses/advanced-riding/skill-for-life-motorcyclists
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