I’m writing this having just returned from a weekend riding in Wales on the 7Ws trip.

There’s something very different about riding in Wales; there’s no single thing, but the combination of (generally) good road surfaces, lower levels of traffic, great scenery and roads that bend and twist, as well as vary in elevation, produces a great riding experience that ‘advanced’ riding allows you to take full advantage of. Looking well ahead and maximising the Information part of the System enable the ride to really flow without significant interruption and the Position phase keeps me safe whilst using the view to maximum benefit.

Riding home on Sunday required the usual adjustments to riding, with more focus on the higher levels of traffic, busier roads and worsening road surface.

The 7Ws weekend is one of the key training riding events in the club calendar and with approximately 70 bikes attending, it’s also one of the largest. Getting this organised twice a year is no mean feat and the 7Ws team does a great job of making this weekend accessible and enjoyable for all, and particularly appropriate for Associates.

It was good to see the ‘I AM SAFE’ philosophy, as discussed by Andy Slater in last month’s Slipstream, being actively discussed and implemented by everyone on the trip. It was clear that anyone that didn’t feel up to riding could decide not to take part in a ride and there was even a high degree of forward planning for this in the bar the evenings before the rides!

Sean Westlake, who is now an instructor with Rapid Training, entertained everyone with his views, and tips, on ‘Riding in Wales’ and Sean is now offering three and four day tours, with coaching, for anyone that wants to explore some of the lesser-known routes with a smaller group. You can contact Sean at sean.westlake@me.com for further information.

The focus on the 7Ws weekend is, of course, training, and it was great to see everyone discussing their experiences and building confidence on the roads. Time in the saddle on good routes is a great way to build experience and riding skills. Adding in informal observation for Associates and Full Members means that there’s a bit of extra input too to get maximum benefit from time on these roads.

This philosophy is extended to our other club training weekends, such as 3Rs and Rutland Rally and I’d encourage everyone to try and get away on at least one or two training weekends with the club. They’re great fun, help you build your social network in the club and really develop your riding skills in an encouraging environment.

Talking of riding skills, after some delay, we’re finally re-launching the Enhanced Advanced Ride (EAR) process. I’d like to thank Sarah Chandler and the Green Team for helping to redefine the process. The EAR is a half or full-day ride with an Observer and is normally for two Full Members. Designed to be an evaluation and coaching session, the aim is to help keep your riding skills up to scratch. And it’s great fun, and free (well, you’ll buy the tea as is usual on an Observed ride). If you’d like to take advantage of an EAR then send an email to enhancedadvanced@tvam.org

Although the nights are starting to draw in, and the weather is starting to get a little cooler, there are always some great riding days to be had in the Autumn, so do take the opportunity to join social rides, and trips, and keep those riding skills up.