Well, I guess it wasn’t really a surprise that I found myself appointed Chairman at the end of the AGM last month. My past year as Vice-Chair supporting David Jacobi opened my eyes to all the great work that goes on within TVAM, and yet there still seems to be lots to do. The club is always moving forward and evolving, which is how we keep it fresh and interesting. 

I’m keen this year for the club to give more back to Full Members. They make up the largest single group within the club and, whilst ensuring that there is plenty for this group to engage in, that there is also help to retain and improve advanced riding skills beyond social runs. Sarah Chandler is taking over the Green Team and she has some great ideas for things she wants to introduce and I’m sure we’ll hear more from her soon.

One of the few things I expected within a couple of hours of becoming Chairman was to receive a letter of complaint from a member of the public about the riding standards displayed by one of our social rides. He’d been passed by 8 or 9 TVAM bikers who were apparently overtaking on blind bends and crests in the road. Not something he thought we should be doing as an Advanced Group.  And, yes, it was a TVAM run as the back marker was wearing a TVAM vest!

Having spoken with the run leader and knowing a number of the people on that particular ride I was somewhat surprised as none of them ride recklessly or unsafely, indeed the opposite could be said. What we determined was the particular road in question is undulating and has low hedges and banks down the sides. The height of adventure-style bikes gives a view from the saddle that is very different from that of the average car. Indeed, combined with the performance these bikes now have, an advanced rider could have the view and have completed a safe overtake before the car driver has even got a view of the road ahead. What we seem to have is a case of perception; that what was happening appeared to be unsafe, probably heightened by 8 or 9 bikes all roaring past with little separation.

The lesson here is probably that what is safe and perfectly normal for us on our high performance and, possibly loud bikes, can be perceived to be aggressive and unsafe by other road users. Our aim is to make progress without inconveniencing or upsetting other road users. Perhaps we need to have in mind how others might perceive our riding as we wind our way through traffic as a group on our next social run. Let’s be proud to be TVAM!

Enjoy the ride, be safe.

Andy Slater