With Spring just around the corner, TVAM is gearing up for another busy biking season. 7Ws is already oversubscribed, so if you have missed a place this time don’t forget to look out for the Autumn dates here in Slipstream and on the website.

The Rutland Rally, a new weekend trip for members with less experience of motorcycle touring is also fully booked and a few of us will soon be making an exploratory trip to the area to check out some of the great biking roads around Rutland Water.

On the training side of TVAM, we held a second Observer Day at the Coppid Beech Hotel recently with 90 plus Observers and TObs attending a full day of workshops followed by a keynote session by Ian Edwards an industry leader on the psychology of rider and driver training.

By the time this copy of Slipstream goes to print the Training Team will have run the first of three Core Skills Days being held this year for potential new Observers. The CSD is a mandatory one-day training experience for all new TObs before they start their on-the-road training under the watchful eye of a TVAM Mentor. Mentors are National Observers selected for their coaching skills and I am pleased to announce that we have 4 new Mentors this month so my thanks go to Geoff Pretty, Dave Parsons,  Peter Dowlen and Kevin Buchta for taking on this important role.

New Observers are the life-blood of TVAM. As we continue to attract new Associates it is vital that we have Observers available to train them and during the summer months we struggle to meet the demand. Peter Browne who looks after Allocations does a great job with this but he needs more Observers. Only once in TVAM’s history have we had to close the doors to new members and the Committee would hate to be in this position again.

Becoming an Observer is one of the most rewarding activities in the club. TVAM does set high standards for observing but also provides a depth of support during the training. If you feel that you might like to be the proud owner of a gold badge, have a chat to any of the Training Team to find out more.

On a more sobering note, I have recently learned of Sam Doble’s racing incident on track at Catalunya, Spain. Sam is one of our younger Observers in the CLAMs, a passionate track enthusiast and regular with the LLR Team. Those of you who know Sam will not be surprised to hear that in spite of multiple injuries, he has not lost his sense of humour and is in regular contact. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

After months of negotiating with the DVSA over access to the Greenham Test Facility to run an additional Look Lean Roll course I have been informed that planning regulations restrict the use of the site and that we will not be granted access. This is a disappointment, however we have been allocated extra days at the current Farnborough site and I am pleased to announce that Mel Hakhnazarian has agreed to lead a new LLR Team to fill the extra dates. Once the new team has had time to organise and train the various roles we will be offering extra dates on the webshop for this popular course.

It is hard to believe that with the AGM this month I will be standing for re-election to my third year as CO of this great club. The last two years seem to have flown by and the role continues to be an honour as well as a huge challenge and I would like to thank everyone for their support.

One of the prominent news items of late has been the increase in the penalty for mobile phone offences from £100 to £200 and six penalty points rather than three. Many of the Road Safety organisations including IAM RoadSmart have joined in with campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers posed by distracted drivers on our busy roads but there has been little mention of distracted bikers.

It is worth noting that the rules relating to mobile phones and drivers apply equally to riders and we are seeing an increasing use of wired or Bluetooth connected smartphones and satnavs on bikes. Please be mindful that touching a device in a cradle can lead to a prosecution if seen by a Police Officer. I am not aware of this happening yet so please let us make this one area that TVAM does not lead the way!

Finally this month, I would like to give a special thanks to Richard Tickner who has decided to hang up his bronze badge after many years as a National and former Senior Observer, Radio Validator, Committee Member and all round good egg. I hope Richard enjoys a well-earned rest and continues to enjoy TVAM.

Pat Coneley

Chief Observer