If you pass me on my bike during the Hampshire rush-hour tonight you’ll notice something a little different about me. An aura. A glow, perhaps.
It’s not Createability’s Federation of Master Builders award, although that puffs my chest out a little it has to be said.
No, it’s my Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists (IAM) Advanced Plus motorcycling standard! I not only passed, but after a cracking one and a half hour ride through Hampshire and Surrey, got a 90% pass from my police class one tester!
It’s not for that glow that I did it, though.
Every bike rider knows it’s imperative to be as safe as possible when encountering the challenges on our roads, especially as the nights close in and the mad-dash home after work gets wilder and more urgent.
No matter how experienced or confident a rider you are, you’ll always come across the unforeseen. Only with experience and training comes the knowledge and prowess to deal with those hazards safely and I’m dead proud that I’m one step closer to IAM bike riders’ excalibur – the IAM ‘Masters’.
After being on the bike for 7 years even that coveted title is a little way from me yet, but no matter who you are, the better trained you are the safer you are.
I prepared for the test by attending an intensive training weekend in picturesque Tiverton where we rode in small groups through some challenging roads and conditions. At the end we critiqued each other’s rides and improved on what we knew.
I managed not to take my appraisals personally – well, not too much anyway – and applied them to my everyday riding and ultimately this Advanced Plus test. A motorcyclist is constantly learning and then applying that knowledge and experience.
I’m also pretty happy that since April I’ve been able to give a little back and have become an observer for those taking their green badge. It’s particularly great to see youngsters who want to take the test and prepare themselves better for a life on two wheels. All too often they’re more concerned with the kudos of being on a bike, even shunning high visibility clothing which is a terrifying prospect on these dark nights.
It makes me all the more thankful that my 23-year-old son is made of better stuff, sensible lad that he is, and he and my wife are training for their green badges right now.
We even took the bikes across the ferry to the Picos de Europa mountain range in North Spain last year, down some very challenging roads which they tackled with sense and confidence.
Being a bike rider has made me a better car driver too – understanding hazards and thinking ‘bike’. It’d be great if all car drivers had that experience, just as it would be great for all bike riders to pass at least an IAM green badge.
In the meantime those of us with a little more experience will just have to keep preaching about safety and hoping that everyone gets to have as great a two-wheeled experience as I’m having!