I joined TVAM as an Associate just before the first Covid lockdown kicked in. Having been riding for more than 13 years, I had only recently realised what ‘proper’ riding really was. Last year I reconnected with some old biker friends who were already part of the IAM. Listening to their stories and having observed their, what was now a much-changed and developed riding style, I decided to look into where I could also progress my own skills. This for me was a huge wake-up call, I decided to explore the avenue into the journey of becoming a better and safer road rider.
I woke up nice and early one Sunday morning and headed to my first St. Crispin’s meet. Here I came across a huge number of friendly and like-minded people, everyone I spoke to was absolutely on the same level and I made a lot of new friends. Soon after I went for a thoroughly enjoyable observed ride by a lovely chap who goes by the name of Keith Miller. Keith provided me with invaluable feedback and tips, so needless to say, I was drawn into it all even more. A few days afterwards I noticed that there was an Advanced Bike Control course taking place, so without any hesitation, I quickly enrolled. The idea of learning new skills on an open runway in a controlled environment was just too good to dismiss and boy was I right!
I arrived promptly at 8.15am at RAF Odiham to be greeted by the TVAM ABC team who went through the format of the day as well as scrutineering all of our bikes ensuring that brakes, chains and tyres were acceptable. We rode into the airbase in a pack formation, very well organised with lead and tail end vehicles. Following introductions and our first briefing, we set out to the runway to get the day going. I will not go through all of the exercises here, however, I will say that everything was perfectly planned and the content was absolutely spot on. The way that it was all delivered including the physics explaining the why and how were explained made it so easy to digest and understand. Then some of the Observers would demonstrate each exercise prior to everyone doing the same.
If I had to pick, I would say that I really enjoyed and benefitted the most from the slow riding bike control and high-speed braking sessions. To put things in perspective, “How often do we practice things such as emergency stops?” These types of exercises could save our lives one day. Furthermore, not knowing the correct technique to carry out these manoeuvres could easily result in getting yourself in an even worse state than you are already in. Having the ability to carry everything out with expert direction in an off-road controlled environment was priceless. I for one went home with a huge grin on my face and found the day to be an excellent use of time. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the course to anyone.
Lastly, I’d personally like to thank the following people from the ABC who delivered the course on the day :
Chris Caswell – who did a splendid job of carrying out all the briefings and directed the majority of the exercises.
Graham Jones – did an excellent job organising the day in advance, including some last-minute Covid curveballs, which were dealt with very promptly and professionally.
Ian Bessant, Alan Thomas, Bimal Maharjan, Bob Doe, Malcolm Smith, Peter Browne, Robin Crane and Steve Mason.
I certainly learnt a lot, now it’s the time for me to practice what I picked up and apply it to my road riding, hopefully resulting in a greater margin of safety going forward.
Thank you so much to all the ABC team, this course is priceless. My advice would be to get yourself booked on the next one as soon as it’s offered.