If you’ve read the post on my two year plan, then you’ll know that one of the aims I had was to do the Bike Safe course with the Met police before I attempted my first tour. However, due to a question of timing, I ended up doing it the day AFTER I returned. Still a good decision I believe, because once the school holiday was in,there was no way I’d have managed to enjoy the twisty roads of Devon and Cornwall as much as I did. But let’s not sidetrack.
I’m sure I’m not the only person in the UK who will have passed his test and then carried on riding purely based on what he was taught during the training phase. The problem for me was that I had a gap of over two years between passing my A test and climbing on to Kingpin for the first time – and I’d had no motorway training whatsoever.
So taking the Bike Safe course seemed like the sensible thing to do – both to have my current riding assessed and to get some tips on motorway riding. Which I had already done of course. Still worth checking it was the right approach though.
There were 13 other riders with me yesterday, and 7 policemen, which meant we were paired off and stayed with the same instructor for the duration of the riding assessments.
Most of the morning was in the classroom, learning several different aspects of riding including filtering, right turn violations, how to approach bends and saccadic eye movement (definitely worth looking into as a biker – it explains why drivers at junctions won’t necessarily see you).
Then we saddled up. It was emphasised several times that the way to get the best out of the day was to ignore the fact you were being followed by a police bike everywhere – and it’s a valid point which I stuck to. After all there’s no point in riding in your ‘best behaviour’ if you don’t ride like that normally; otherwise how can they help you improve your skills?
I was paired with an instructor called Norman who explained that we would be riding one in front and one behind, so that myself and the other rider could be assessed in turn. We rode out towards Virginia Water and stopped to get lunch quickly, and had a quick feedback from Norman on our ride so far. At this point he was satisfied with mine I’m glad to say.
We took in in turns to spend around forty minutes riding in front of Norman on various A and B roads around the same area; I was the second to go.
The main issue for me to focus on was my cornering; the best and safest road positioning for a biker is on the outside of the corner, so that you have the best field of view going around it and you don’t have to lean is as far. But I could feel myself drifting in to the middle of the road as I went round several times. That and my speed before entering the corner itself are two areas I need to practice a bit. A good excuse to go and find some twisty roads me thinks!
I would wholeheartedly recommend doing this course to any biker who hasn’t done so; I feel I got a lot out of the day, not just in the assessment but also being made aware of things I hadn’t even thought of whilst riding. And one comment by my instructor has really stuck with me: it was in relation to getting some more advanced training done with the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). He said “I’d rather spend 150 pounds on training instead of finding out how good my 400 pound leathers are”. Valid point.
So there you have it; just coming up to mid July and two of my three aims fulfilled; watch this space!