Welcome to 2021 and let’s hope we get more riding in during the coming season than we did last year!

Despite Brexit and COVID I’m personally looking forward to trips abroad, even if it’s only to Scotland… more seriously, I’m hopeful that after we’ve all been jabbed the government will allow us to re-start our monthly meetings at St. Crispin’s and all of those wonderful TVAM activities will feature again in the Club’s calendar. Whilst preparing for the AGM our Chief Observer pulled together a list of all the training activities we as a Club undertake and the list was daunting. In a normal year our volunteer coaches deliver around 11,500 hours of training for members. Around 5,500 hours of that is via club courses developed by members, such as Look, Lean and Roll, Advanced Bike Control courses, weekends away (remember 7Ws and 3Rs?) and Skills Days at Castle Combe. Roll on a COVID-free summer.

This will be my last ‘From the Chair’ piece as, after five years on the Committee, the last four as Chair, I’m stepping down. By the time you receive this copy of Slipstream we will have elected a new Chair and Treasurer and I offer both of them my congratulations and support.

The past five years have seen the Club membership grow by just under 20%, we undertook two membership surveys where a third of members participated which gave the Committee guidance on things that needed to be developed. As a result we created the Red Badge Zone to support Associates, started the RideUP sponsorship scheme for young riders, and held the annual MotoJumble on the day of the AGM. Hopefully, this will be a feature again next January. During this time lots of technical work has also been undertaken by the Committee which often goes unseen, including compliance with GDPR regulations, European Package Tour Directive, FRS102 financial reporting, and consolidation of our Charitable status and aims. My thanks to everyone involved with these complex matters and also the writing of the necessary policies to support them.

The past year has given us further opportunities for change. Whilst Committee meetings on Microsoft Teams can never replace face-to-face discussions, Zoom conferencing has allowed the Team Leaders to meet almost monthly during the various lockdowns. This created a forum for discussion and innovation as ideas were shared on how to keep the club active, including Observer swaps for Associates, how to manage bookings for social rides and tips on holding virtual team meetings. 

The restriction of only six on social rides has been an eye opener with many participants actually preferring smaller runs. As run leaders know who is attending they have been able to plan suitable routes and stopping places. Certainly six bikers arriving at a café causes less hassle than 26, and everyone gets served quickly so the ride can continue. I guess we may see some social rides continue to be offered with limited numbers going forward.

We’ve also seen a huge move towards online during the past year. With this in mind we developed the ‘Free Taster Ride’ offer on our website and open Facebook page following on from the Father’s Day offer. This is proving to be a popular way of attracting new members and has been a replacement for our St Crispin’s ‘Fluffy’ rides. Many thanks to the Observers who support these Taster Rides. It was with this in mind that the Committee approved the investment in a new club website. After 10 years it was time to refresh our online presence and hopefully you’ll approve of the new site due to launch this month. Read the article on the project on page 15. We’ve also just launched the popular BikeCraft course online with six online events over the coming weeks (see below). Thanks to the team for this development and I encourage members (especially Associates) to register for these highly informative sessions.

So all the very best for 2021 – keep the shiny side up and ride safe.

Andy Slater

(retiring) Chairman