One Year after joining TVAM, I find myself heading North with thirty-odd, like- minded souls for a 3Rs adventure in Yorkshire to put into practice everything I have learned over the past 12 months. The skies are blue and the roads are dry and as we meet up in Oxford for the briefing it becomes very quickly apparent that everyone involved is friendly and inclusive and so I feel very relaxed as we set off for the first of my three observed rides for that day.

As an Associate I welcome any opportunity for an observed ride as, without exception, I always take away something constructive which I then immediately try and apply to my next ride. The Observers and TObs on the trip were all supportive and incredibly generous with their time and my riding benefited as a result. Friday was a very long day but for me the time flew by and we reached the hotel much sooner than I was expecting. The accommodation was excellent as was the food – certainly no food shortage up north as the portions were enormous!

Nigel planned and led a spectacular route on the Saturday which included some challenging terrain over the Yorkshire Dales. The peaks, being saturated in low cloud in parts which reduced visibility significantly, were obscured but lower down the views were simply stunning. Following lunch at The Wensleydale Creamery (yes, cheese was consumed) there was some light precipitation which added to the afternoon challenge of navigating the already wet cattle grids, conveniently located on aggressively downward sloping bends, not to mention the added hazard of marauding sheep….. extreme caution recommended!

Safely back at the hotel, more excellent food and drink was consumed whilst recapping the day’s events followed by the obligatory awards with everyone concluding the evening in high spirits. Sunday was another glorious day for the ride home. For me, as an Associate, it was a brilliant weekend made so by the inclusive nature of everyone involved.

Because the weekend ran so smoothly, it is easy to forget just how much time, planning, and hard work it takes to make this trip so enjoyable for the participants lucky enough to partake. The trip is purposely kept to relatively small numbers and it is all the better for it. And, whilst I feel conflicted to promote it (to the point where I cannot get on it next year), it would be remiss of me not to say that it has to be the best experience I have enjoyed in TVAM since joining the Club and I will keep everything crossed for a place next year!

Phil Chadwick

First published in Slipstream November 2018