Until a couple of weeks ago, I had been looking forward to welcoming you all back to St Crispin’s this month. I even had a loose plan of the sort of message I would write to welcome in such a return after a year and a quarter. It went something along the lines of “what a fantastic month to return to regular meetings at St Crispin’s, with long, bright days and good temperatures, what better time for us all to return to the roads for fun and socialising”…

The reality was that Boris’ worst kept secret came as little surprise when he announced on the 21st of June that the final step out of lockdown would be delayed until 19th July. Clearly this was a setback for many people, and I certainly do not want to make light of the additional pain that this further delay will have caused many personally and in business, and July St Crispin’s plans became another victim of this cruel pandemic. Back to the 9am virtual St Crispin’s for this month again, excellently hosted by Andy Wedge and lead by Chris Brownlee, to announce the now increasing number of test passes for the month and others in the Club that have gone on to become Trainee and Full Observers. The virtual masses duly applauding each achievement as we would have should they have been stood on the stage, in the main hall, at St. Crispin’s. Fingers crossed that news is better for August and we can all meet in reality, even if that means respectful social distancing of some description.

Since being allowed to carry out peer review rides from the end of March, and Observed Rides from mid-April, our Full Members, Observer’s and Associates have been working extremely hard to get themselves back ‘rider fit’ and comfortable in the saddle. Well done to everyone for putting the effort in to getting themselves and others back to the standard they were at before lockdown and indeed pushing forward in their development.

In early May, I had the opportunity to have a peer review ride with Andy Slater, our previous Chair, and Shaun Cronin, our IAM Regional Service Delivery Manager. Andy and I were due our National Observer Revalidations and Andy was due his Masters Mentor revalidation. I am not going to say too much here, as you can read for yourselves Andy’s article detailing the day in the coming pages, other than to say that it was a fantastic day’s riding that saw me cover about 250 miles across six counties. Those of you that have ridden with me know that I am not generally shy when it comes to overtaking, however, Shaun showed me how I can further enhance my opportunities to develop overtakes sooner and it has certainly made a difference.

Before I let you go and get reading the real articles in this month’s Slipstream, I just want to give another shout out to various teams that have done such a great job with many of our courses both virtually and physically where the rules enable. I have mentioned previously the great work that Di Woodcock and her Bike Craft team have done in delivering three online courses so far this year. I also want to say a big thank you to Issy Griffiths, Alan Mossman and their team that have delivered a successful Run Leader Back Marker course and also had a session with the RLBM mentors to ensure we have a new raft of run leaders and back markers coming forward. Just before sitting down to write this, I was at St Crispin’s with Si Rawlins and his team to deliver the slow riding course to twelve members and associates, as well as three new Trainee Observers. This is the third course that has been delivered since lockdown and we will have probably had the fourth by the time you read this. Well done Si and the team. Finally, I also want to thank Andy Wedge and the Training Team for continuing to deliver the Core Skills Day’s, for three candidates at a time, to continue to grow the Observer Core.

More courses will be coming back on line as the last restrictions are lifted, so look out for the weekly calendar updates and items advertised in Slipstream for your chance to get on them to further develop your skills.

I really hope to see as many of you as possible at St. Crispin’s in August.

Have fun and stay safe everyone.

Barrie Smith