I would like to start this month with a big thank you to all for dealing with the number of newcomers and Associates wanting an Observed ride at Crispin’s last month. This, again, fell on Father’s Day. which always presents us with a challenge and this year was no exception. I think most of the available Observers, including myself, managed to accommodate two Associates, but apologies go to the few who did not get an Observed ride.
Much of this was written whilst on holiday in France with twelve other TVAM friends enjoying the roads and hospitality that are typical of rural France. The time away gave me an opportunity to reflect on how the biking scene has changed. Of the 13 bikes on the trip only 2 were Japanese. All the rest were European and the UK was well represented with 4 Triumphs – 3 Explorers and a Sprint present. A few years ago it would have been all Fireblades and GSX-R’s. Have we all fallen out love with sports bikes or can some of us no longer fit on them? I think it is likely that more of us are touring these days and need the luggage capacity.
If you have never taken your bike abroad then do consider joining one of the trips advertised in Slipstream but, be warned, it can become expensively addictive!
The contrast with riding in the UK is also noticeable with most French drivers seeming to be more bike aware, often moving over to the extent that they will place two wheels in the grass in their haste to let us pass. Occasionally this happens in the most inappropriate places such as on blind bends and the drivers involved seem surprised when we don’t take the opportunity to overtake!
On the subject of overtakes, the scarcity of traffic on most French roads did tempt me to start overtaking from too far behind. It is important not to make the overtake decision until you have caught up with the target vehicle, assessed its speed, along with all the other information about the road ahead before moving into an overtake position.
I was reminded of this when I had to abort an overtake at the last second, giving the ABS more exercise than I would have liked. This was simply because I had been drawn in to the overtake as soon as I saw the vehicle. I was reminded of the sage advice on 3-stage overtakes offered on page 74 of ‘How to be a Better Rider’. The Police BikeSafe trainers also have a catchy expression for 3-stage overtakes which is self-explanatory. They call it, Catch, Match and Dispatch.
With great weather and the biking season in full swing the DfT Road Casualty Statistics for 2014 were released last month showing an increase in fatalities of 4% (1775) compared with 2013.
Motorcyclists made up 19% (339) of the these which, given that we represent only 2% of the total traffic, is a salutary reminder of what TVAM is all about and the inherent risks involved in this passion that we share.