With the light at the end of the tunnel looking more like it is daylight, rather than something else coming the other way, the Training Team has been thinking of what we need to consider to ensure we get back to biking safely.

The end of March will have seen us in lockdown in England for at least half of the previous 12 months, with considerable restrictions placed on travel for almost all that time. This has meant that for most of the time our Club activities have been severely limited and, with the latest two lockdowns occurring over the winter months, many of us have not ventured out on the bike since last October.

We have what could arguably be described as ‘a perfect storm’ coming as we venture back onto the roads. With motorcyclists not being a common presence on the road for the last five months, other than the odd essential journey, it is unlikely that the average motorist will be looking out for them. Could we therefore see an upsurge of the SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You) incidents where the motorcyclist almost always ends up coming off worst?

The problem for us ‘Advanced Motorcyclists’ is easy to see but how do we plan the safe return and try to mitigate the risks for every member of the TVAM family? This is not something that just concerns us within TVAM but IAM RoadSmart as well. Safety is our greatest concern, however we also need to consider how we re-commence training and ensure that we avoid ‘burnout’ of our Observers.

Burnout is where Observers may rush, with good intentions, to get all of our Associates back out on the road and up to the level they were at before we had to stop riding. The risk is that we have huge intensity in the first 2-3 months, which then radically drops off as Observers become fatigued. If we can come back to training in a planned and steady manner, it is likely to be far more sustainable as we progress through to the end of the riding season.

So, what can we all do to help a safe return to full Club activities? 

The Training Team wishes to share its thoughts on a possible structured approach we should all consider to enable us to get back on the road safely and reengage with Club activities, as and when we are allowed.

One of the easiest things that we can all do is to go out for a short, local, ride with another rider and spend a little time just following each other and discussing what you see with each other. This is just two ‘likeminded’ riders doing a short trip to help each other. Remember that it may take a ride or two for us to get back to the level that we were at before lockdown.

Associates – Until we’re allowed to carry out observed and social rides again, take a look at the Advanced Rider Course (ARC) materials and books again. Perhaps have a look at the online quizzes, (there are links to them in the allmembers Wiki on Groups.io), to test your knowledge.

IAM RoadSmart has introduced new e-learning modules called CHOICES that are accessible only by Associates. The link to these modules was sent out to all Associates by IAM RoadSmart in the Associate Newsletter on the 12th February. You could also get the bike out and do your Pre-Ride checks and take a look at your protective equipment to ensure it’s ready to go when you are. Contact your Observer and arrange your next ride with them, however, please do allow them time to ensure they are happy with their own riding before coming out for a ride.

Full Members – It wouldn’t be a bad idea to use the next couple of weeks to refresh yourself on the theory side, just until we can get back on the road. Consider booking the Advanced Plus. This is a half or full day, maybe with another full member, with an Observer who will do a ride to see how you compare to the IAM RoadSmart test standard. They will then assist you to identify and work on any issues that you may have throughout the session. Contact details are in the back of Slipstream.

Observers and TObs – You guessed it, take another look at those books and even the online quizzes whilst you have the time. Don’t be too proud to ask another Observer to go for a short ride and give you feedback. Perhaps then swap over so you can critique them. We can all learn from one another and you’ll probably have fun giving the advice if not receiving it! If you’re in line for an Aardvark then get it booked (arguably one of the best days riding you’ll ever have). Remember our friends at Rapid Motorcycle Training are likely to get very busy as the weather improves.

All Members – We have an abundance of courses, delivered by the Training and Green Teams, that had to be put on hold during lockdown. As soon as possible these courses will start to open up again for booking. Keep an eye on Slipstream and Groups.io for when these will happen.

Our excellent BikeCraft team is currently delivering their course online over a period of six weeks. By the time you read this they will have commenced their second online course, being delivered over three Sundays in March, and we cannot thank them enough for their efforts to redesign a classroom style course for delivery online. Well done team.

If you do use your bike currently for volunteering or work, then just take a little extra time to fully evaluate what other riders and drivers are doing around you and make sure that you’re not caught up in someone else’s incident.

For all of us getting back into riding, remember to apply The System and keep the pace to something comfortable. We can get back to the higher levels of skill in time, when the concentration levels, muscle memories and experience have been carefully built up.

For those of you that are not aware of what The System is, we refer to IPSGA (Information, Position, Speed, Gear & Acceleration) as the system at the core of Advanced Riding. The purpose of IPSGA is to promote safety and prevent collisions by encouraging riders to adopt a systematic approach to any hazard. Refer to the books again for further information.

In summary, don’t be afraid to ask for help, at any level, and take your time to settle into your riding before setting off on that full day ride you all have planned as soon as we’re allowed out to play.

Stay safe everyone.

Barrie Smith

TVAM Training Team

First published in Slipstream March 2021