From the Chair (Slipstream August 2014)


Hi everyone

Leading a ride?

With the help of Charlie Nelson, we have updated the Run Leaders’ pack available in the website library under the ‘TVAM General’ file. A plea; Please share your runs and have them  published in the Slipstream diary. Social runs are an essential part of what we do, and we would prefer that you proactively volunteer your run  leadership skills so that others can benefit from the runs. To have them listed in Slipstream and in the web calendar email details to

The local teams have had a few opportunities to attend events for marketing purposes.  These are key to allow us to meet other bikers and offer the services and camaraderie of our club. The use of the H Café as a destination for the BikeSafe days has worked well, and the Oxford IAM group have started coming along too. The GNATs have also attended an open weekend at Brian Gray Powerbiking, High Wycombe with some very positive feedback. On Saturday 6th September we have the opportunity to help Blade Motorcycles, Reading, with their main theme of promoting safety and supporting local charities. This is their first open day of this nature and they have invited TVAM to ‘Promote Advanced Riding Skills’. If you want to get involved contact Jim or Rita on

Please look out for further opportunities of attendance at promising events. Pick up a handful of the newly printed business cards at St Crispin’s and hand them out to motorcyclists you meet. Obviously you can still cut out or print off vouchers from Slipstream. An IAM price increase may persuade some people to purchase their membership early – Skills for Life cost will be increasing to £149 on 1st October 2014.

We recently had an interesting challenge from one group of young bikers who wanted coaching on how to ride in a group when they are out with their mates. What other coaching aspects could we consider for our club?

Do we have a meeting of minds between MAG and the IAM?

As many of you know, MAG publish the Network magazine that is diligently shared by Nick Vale. This month MAG has brought to our attention the launch of a new website on Motorcycle Guidelines,, compiled by the Institute of Highways Engineers (IHE). The objective is to raise awareness amongst transportation professionals of the specific safety requirements for motorcyclists. IHE’s Motorcycling Guidelines are a step in that direction. MAG are suggesting that you may use the documents to influence councils etc. over issues such as parking or the use of bus lanes. Of particular interest to note is that the update of these documents was supported by the IAM.

Charon Willis


From the Saddle (Slipstream July 2014)

Hi everyone.

This month I am pleased to announce that TVAM has a new Run Report Form (RRF). The old form had been around for quite a number of years and had received only minor updates over that period. Also, it did not accurately reflect the same marking categories or grades seen on the IAM Examiner’s Test Report. So, with that in mind, it has been overhauled while still maintaining the general look and feel that you are all familiar with. Let’s look at what has changed:

CO Jul-14 pic1The first thing you will notice is the old rating of A–E has been replaced by grades 1-5. We’ve also added a description to explain what each number means, with 1 meaning Excellent and 2 meaning Good etc.

CO Jul-14 pic2
The marking for each category has also changed to match the Examiner’s Test Report with the old Plus / Ave / Minus being replaced by scores of 1 to 5.

CO Jul-14 pic3Safety, as always, is the number one priority so this section stays at the top of the new form. You can see that grades 1 and 2 are shaded for each item, and indicate the scores you should be aiming for prior to taking your test.

CO Jul-14 pic4The old sections called Progress and Speed have been replaced with a new section called Riding Style. It contains most of the items from the two old sections but also includes many of the items from the Examiner’s Test Report that were not mentioned before, such as Slow Riding and Eco-Riding.

The sections for Bends, Overtakes and Junctions have all been retained although they have been placed in a different sequence.


Safe riding everyone.

Andy Wedge
Chief Observer


Castle Combe Track Day Now Booking

castle_coombe300As we had so much fun last time we have provisionally booked the circuit again.

Come and join us for a TVAM exclusive track and training day at the fabulous Castle Combe circuit on Tuesday 30th September 2014.

We have 56 spaces available at a very reasonable £120 per rider, so book early to avoid disappointment.

There will be 4 groups; Novice, Novice/Inter, Intermediate, Experienced.

Sessions will be 15 min duration.

This is a road bike only event for those riders wishing to explore the full capabilities of their bike in a safe and controlled environment.  Track Guidance available from our knowledgeable team of Observers as well as on site Instructors.

There are strict noise limits here, your bike will need to pass the limit of 105db static test at half a meter and at three quarters of your rev range.

One or two piece Leathers are advised, but Zip together Textiles with CE armour are allowed. There is no requirement for ACU approved helmets (Gold Sticker) at this event.

For further information contact Dave Hepworth at

To book your place go to the TVAM Webshop.

From the Chair (Slipstream May 2014)


Hi everyone

Andy Wedge and I represented TVAM in the IAM Region 2 meeting last month. There was an in-depth presentation of 92 slides, which will be in our documents folder on the TVAM website for those of you who would like full details.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Sales of Skills for Life in our region are up by 6% year on year. The IAM have set a target to increase to 8%. Seems like a big ask, but the general public, bikers and TVAM will all benefit if we too can support this.
  • Our region takes 175 days to get associates who have been through enrolment to test, and 250 days including enrolment through to registering test completion (all car and bike). This is longer than all other regions. The quickest region does this in 150 days.
  • Information like this will be put on the IAM website to allow people to choose the group that meets their needs.
  • They are ramping up their effort to say thank you to members, including adding details onto your IAM membership card such as a F1RST pass.
  • There is a concerted effort to understand reasons for not renewing IAM membership. The slides give you more information, including reasons such as personal income versus perceived benefits (as you will know, we also have a project within TVAM on a similar vein to review and consider every benefit and cost to all types of our own club members).
  • Progressing with the new modules; members will be able to buy; New quiz/assessment module, Urban riding. I understand existing full members will be allowed to check it out later for free.
  • They are actively progressing merging of groups – this will not apply to TVAM as we already have our regional sub-teams.
  • There is a plan to change IAM communication, under the banner ‘group engagement’; which actually means increasing numbers of emails to committee members. Yay!
  • Our regional manager, Mark Trimmer, has categorised groups in his region as Red (i.e. poor sales of Skills for Life, and low test passes), Amber, and Green (doing well and above average). He has focussed his activity in Red and Green groups, and helping merge groups.
  • There was further talk about the database (DTE) that the IAM like groups to use. This is very helpful for other groups that don’t have their own, as TVAM do.

Please do carry on enjoying the club and making the effort by joining in on the courses, enjoying banter and riding.

Shiny side up

Charon Willis


BOTTYs Mid-Summer BBQ (B)



Saturday June 21st

Join the BOTTYs for their mid-summer bbq. Starting with a B run from Nelson’s Diner on the A339 near Kingsclere, RG20 4TA, leaving promptly at 10.30am. Pillions are welcome on this run. The bbq will be in a dedicated area in Lepe Country Park on the Solent starting around 1pm. £8 per person payable via the TVAM webshop. Numbers are strictly limited by the venue so book now. More volunteers to help with setting up and or cooking required. Please contact organiser Phil Ryan – see diary entry or Slipstream for contact details.

7Ws #28 – Spring 2014



After a round of meetings (a.k.a. tea drinking marathons) the usual suspects had arranged room allocations, routes, run leaders and back markers. So we were all set. On this trip there were added refinements – coloured armbands and parking marshals at Sainsbury’s car park at Heyford Hill. I’m not sure you can call Bowler and Gnobber refined; please discuss.

All parked up bar two, the intrepid parking marshal duo, or gruesome twosome as some would have it, sought advice about the non-arrival of Ness and Mr Lucky (as he is now known), who were posted as missing. Mr Lucky had a new wiring loom fitted in the lead up to the weekend. All was well until the new loom caught fire on the way to Sainsbury’s. A very nice AA man put out the fire and fixed the problem. Mr Lucky then had a puncture when filling up with fuel. Said puncture was fixed by Si and Iain (nits in shining armour) and we were all ready to rock and roll.

Issued with the correct colour armbands, what a brilliant idea, for each run and fully briefed by Lou and Simon we were off. Do you know about theories? Well it goes like this. The runs will set off at predetermined intervals so that we don’t cross over and get all mixed up. All was well until the pink run got to Toddington to find the road closed. Off on a jolly thirty-odd mile detour we crossed over all the other three runs. Thank the Lord for coloured armbands or we might still be out there now. The detour meant lunch was a tad late. Assembled in the café we realised someone was missing. Who do you think it could be? It’s our man Mr Lucky who’d missed a marker and ended up at a garden centre. Iain, he of the shining armour fame, volunteered to bring our man in from the wilderness, viz., garden centre, to the café.

A brief discussion ensued, should we wait for the lost soul and let him have some grub or saddle up and bugger off as soon as he arrived at the café. In a display of saintliness to rival the patron saint of Marks and Spencer, St Michael of the Holy Underpants, we waited, bless.

At this point Lou had a brainwave. We are only a short-ish, (oops, not supposed to have any short references on Lou’s route; may have got away with it though) distance from the hotel, she intoned. Shall we go by a much more direct route or stick to the original route. After the tumbleweed had stopped blowing about and the eerie wind noise had stopped the assembled company went for – the original route – you know the one – that awful road from Newtown to Crossgates.

Hooning, sorry, riding progressively along the Crossgates road, I espied, in a lay-by, the Heddlu (police to you English types). He had just finished nicking some oik in an Astra. As I approached the lay-by he started to move past the crestfallen Astra-man and waited for me to go past, bastard, and sat behind me while I rode down that delightful stretch of road at 60 mph. He watched me like a hawk for about five minutes and having seen enough took off like a bat out of Hell on the opposite side of the road in true Heddlu pursuit mode. His object, to catch up with the other bit of the run in front of me to see if he could add to his tally for the day. Needless to say he did catch them up but was spotted and couldn’t add to his haul.

All assembled at the hotel the usual ritual unfolded. Drafts of liver-crippling quantities of alcohol were downed. Prayers of grateful thanks for coloured armbands were offered up. Copious amounts of bollocks were spoken. Dinner was devoured accompanied by more liver-crippling  booze and bollocks. Now we were onto the poetic beauty of the descriptions of the Saturday rides. The run leaders described their routes for the morrow to a standard that would have had Will Shakespeare green with envy. The assembled amnesiac drunks chose their route and eventually everyone went to bed.

Saturday dawned a little on the chilly side. After a hearty Welsh breakfast the rides set out for various corners of the Principality. Because I like the seaside I went on Peter’s run to Aberaeron. Apart from the occasional shower of sleet, hail and rain, you know springtime and all that, we had a lovely day. We took in the Elan Valley, Tregaron, where the first 7Ws was run by the legend that is Daf Phillips. Thence to Aberaeron for lunch; fish and chips to rival even the, almost now peerless, chippy in Barmouth. Back to the hotel nice and early and in the bar for more liver punishment.

The other rides were much longer than Peter’s and so they duly started to turn up in dribs and drabs. The dribs were quickly cleared up by the hotel staff and put outside in a wheelie bin. The drabs were disposed of as hazardous biological waste by the local fire brigade who said they had never come across anything like it in all their call-outs since records began.

After a while we had a phone call from Anthea who had been marking a junction for an hour or more. Due to an error by one of the markers which resulted in them leaving their post, a group of riders had gone the wrong way. In sunny Wales you can sometimes cover twenty plus miles of main road with no junctions. In the true tradition of GNATS and TVAM none was left behind and they all did get back eventually, bemused, very cold and very tired.

At this point it’s probably worth mentioning the importance of good marking on a group run. It is essential that you stop and stay where the run leader places you to mark. Don’t stop sooner than the indicated spot and not after. Right on the mark is where you should be and it’s vital that you stay there. Don’t move from the mark, even if Kylie Minogue and Rachel Stevens pop out from the scenery and offer you a quick ménage-a-trois, (ladies please insert your own fantasy males in this space). Anyway enough lecturing as there was a plus side to the story. Our diamond geezer emerged from the mess; none other than Gary, or Drew as he is known by some. With a swift flourish he whipped out his – wait for it – waterproof suit and donated it to Ness or freezing Ness as she now was. Suitably attired in the aforementioned suit the Ness and the other lost souls returned to the hotel to be greeted with some sympathy and the usual large helpings of sarcasm and rhubarb.

The night unfolded into dinner, liver bashing and the wooden spoon awards. The major recipients were Gary, (Diamond Geezer), unfortunately I can’t recall the others apart from the spoon for Gnob of the Day, which went to a certain Senior Observer for his overtake with not one but two junctions involved. I apologise for not remembering the other recipients but all the spoons were richly deserved for all the right reasons. This year we couldn’t have our guest speaker from last time, the estimable Rob Barber. He was on duty to receive an award for best privateer in the last race season. Well done Rob! And so to bed at about half-two in the morning.

The rest was all pretty straightforward, back to Burford for a quick cuppa and home.

On behalf of everyone who went a big diolch yn fawr, (thank you) to Lou, Ian and Chris Brownlee for all the organisational effort that go into our twice yearly jaunt to sunny Wales. Also many thanks to all the run leaders, back markers and the rest of the organisers, you know who I mean.

And diolch yn fawr to everyone who went for a cracking weekend. Long may it continue.

Pob hwyl, nos da, Myfawy.


Posted in 7Ws

From the Saddle (Slipstream April 2014)


Hi everyone.

First off, I’d like to thank all those who attended this year’s AGM, and for giving me the opportunity to remain as Chief Observer for another 12 months, which look to be as busy and challenging as ever. This will be my 5th year as Chief Observer and under current club rules, it will be my last. I hope to make it a good one.

Last year provided us with some interesting challenges as we got to grips with changes in the Observing qualifications through the introduction of the IMI (the Institute of Motor Industry) programme. The National Observer qualification is reasonably well established now and, to date, we have 13 Observers who have passed that test. Recently though, the IAM confirmed that the Local Observer programme has been suspended following an initial review of the process and feedback received. A further review is due to be completed by June 2014, so hopefully we will get another update after that. In the meantime, we will continue to validate new TVAM Observers along the same lines as before.

On the subject of new Observers, we held another successful induction day recently. This course has been completely revamped over the past year or so, with a new style, new content and better alignment with the National Observer programme. Jon Taylor and Amanda Smith also attended and I’d like to thank them for their assistance with some of the practical exercises, and their feedback at the end of the day. In order to emphasise the change in focus for this day, we have renamed it the Core Skills Day. I would encourage all Observers to get to know the latest Trainee Observer guidance and coaching information as soon as possible. TVAM has always tried to have the highest standards for its Observers and I think that recent changes have taken this to a new level. Particular thanks go to Iain James and Howie Pyett, who both spent countless hours putting the final touches to the material in the days leading up to the course.

IAM Price Increases!
The IAM have confirmed that from the 1st October this year, the Skills for Life package price will be increased from £139 to £149. Some of the reasons given for this are: the expenses paid to the Examiners are being increased (the first time in 15 years) and removal of qualification fees for things like the National Observer test. Additionally, the IAM membership fee is being increased by £1 for those that do not pay by direct debit. It will be interesting to see how the Skills for Life price increase affects take-up and we will be monitoring this closely.

Observer Weekend
This year’s Observer Weekend will again be held at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells on the 7th and 8th June. All Observers and Trainee Observers are invited and places are filling up fast. This is a great opportunity to get to meet Observers from different local teams over a beer and enjoy riding with them on some great Welsh roads – all with guaranteed sunshine of course! If you haven’t booked your place yet, you can do so online via the web shop in the members’ area of the website.

Safe riding everyone.

Andy Wedge
Chief Observer


From the Chair (Slipstream March 2014)


Welcome to March!

Hopefully we’ve finished with the flooding, and you and yours haven’t suffered too much. Now we can get on with a fun-packed year of events from Slipstream, and your local group’s activities.

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) campaigns to protect and promote motorcycling and the interests and rights of all riders, illustrated last year by helping to stop the introduction of the ‘Super MOT’. However, like many organisations, MAG needs income, and to increase public awareness. One easy and quick way to help is to support one of their latest promotional initiatives.

In April, a song by Nikki Murray – who refers to it as ‘An anthem for MAG’ – should be released, and MAG gets half the proceeds. So log on to, and for the princely sum of 79p you will be able to download it. They are suggesting you also get 3 friends to do this, in the same week, in an attempt to get a chart hit and therefore huge publicity. Admittedly not as exciting as riding your bikes, but potentially supports our freedom to ride.

Andy Wedge has kindly collated the feedback received on the IAM presentation to Observers regarding the local and national Observers qualification, and sent it on to Jon Taylor (Staff Examiner) and Amanda Smith (IAM Quality Control Manager).

The AGM is today (Sunday 16th March). Are you here? Then join us to hear the plans and questions that our club members have put forward.

Keep your eyes open for latest amusing surveys from the IAM in your email/forum box. I like the one that 26% of drivers were distracted by back seat drivers – it was a missed opportunity for the IAM to promote motorcycling and Skills for Life, and start a ‘Get a motorcycle’ campaign – and the one that 4 out of 10 drivers are not concentrating. You know what I’m going to say, ‘Get a motorcycle’, then try not concentrating. Ho hum – preaching to the converted, I know.

Have fun