As we approach the end of the year I thought I’d take a moment to look back over the highlights of the TVAM season in 2018.

My, and how the summer just went on, and on. Normally one would be stoking the log burner whilst writing the column for November but this year’s Indian summer has extended the riding season – and use of the t-shirt wardrobe. And what a year it’s been for the Club! Traditionally the TVAM’s year end is October so technically we’re already in the new year. The AGM, where we report formally on all the comings and goings of the club, is scheduled for January again alongside the, now annual, Moto Jumble. For new members, the Moto Jumble is a great opportunity to find new owners for the bits of kit you’ve collected but no longer use and also to spot a great deal on something you’ll need for the new season just around the corner.

The popularity of training weekends away was highlighted in the membership survey last year so it was great to see the first 3Rs weekend get off to a flying start in Ross on Wye at the end of June. A spin-off from 7Ws, Coral, Brian, Kelly and Anthea deserve a big ‘thank-you’ for stepping forward to organise these new training trips.

We also saw two “WAGS in Wales” weekends in July as well as the ever-popular 7Ws trips in March and September and a Rutland Rally weekend in May – all of which were fully booked. Finally the David Jacobi Mullenborn weekend took 45 riders to the wonderful Eiffel region of Germany for three days of wonderful riding. Our thanks to Guy Lipscomb for taking on the challenge of organising us all there and back safely.  So there are lots of opportunities to extend your riding and meet new TVAM members. Just be quick next year to book as they are all very popular and places will be prized. As always Associates get priority but there’s always a mix of Full Members and Observers.

We also ran, for the first time, two Thruxton TVAM Skills Days with the assistance of the IAM. This was a plan hatched by Pat Coneley last year which included getting enough TVAM qualified track guides trained to run the different groups. The days were based on the successful IAM Skills Days format and gave members the chance to ride the iconic circuit whilst improving their riding skills in a safe environment.

With all those miles ridden, the common component that seems to have given people issues has been tyres.  What with punctures in tubed tyres (on which you can’t use a Crafty Plugger, Paul Kemp) to unexplained high levels of wear leaving an embarrassed rider with no tread, those black rubber bands have been the cause of much angst over the summer. So keep an eye on those pesky critters. They have a habit of letting you down – literally.

We also had the thrills of the Sausage, Slow Riding and Social event at the August St Crispin’s. The devilish course devised by the Training Team was attempted by a good few members. Probably the only time you’ll see members riding with just gloves and helmets. (Well t-shirts and trousers too of course – but not full road gear). The 100 tickets for food were all sold and suncream was the order of the afternoon as we watched cones being squashed by some. Of course there were some excellent exponents of the art of slow riding. And it was proven that riding with a pillion slows you down…

There have been lots and lots of Local Team social rides and my thanks to everyone who led or back marked a social ride during the year and the Team Leaders for ensuring we had a full calendar. These rides really are the heartbeat of the Club going on week after week, evenings, mornings, and all-day.

Of course the Club’s Observers have continued to excel in the training they deliver. With just under 100 test passes this year with a F1RST pass rate of 37% the 120 active Observers in the Club, supported by the Training Team, deliver probably the best bike advanced coaching around. If Heineken did advanced coaching it would look like this…. Well done Team!

And I must say, “Well done and thank you” to everyone who volunteers for the Club, from running the coffee bar to standing on a blustery airfield whilst others practice their braking or weave around cones trying to get their foot-pegs down. If it wasn’t for everyone who does this, TVAM wouldn’t be the great and successful Club we are today. My thanks especially extend to Sarah Chandler who is stepping down from having led the Green Team. Her drive and enthusiasm has ensured that the Green Team is more active than ever and now represented on the Committee.

So for some it’s time to draw breath and reflect on the year just past. For others it’s the time to start planning for next year. Assuming we’re still allowed onto the Continent next summer, where will we go? Which mountain passes and cols could we ride and where will we stay? And of course, much closer to home, those wonderful roads in Wales…

See you on yer bike – maybe at the Reading Toy Run on Sunday 9th December – and read the Winter Riding advice under Latest News.

Andy Slater