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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Not a bad day at the office

 It's been a while since the last post what with other activities and events that needed to be taken care of so time for an update.....

The last few days have really seen the start of summer in NZ - blue skies, warm temperatures and very little wind.  A very successful fishing trip on the boat 2 days ago with plenty of snapper fillets going into the freezer, (plus trimmings for the cats).  Yesterday was a day full of riding so what a great start to official summer!


New IAM member Charlotte asked for some assistance in refining her technique on bends - extreme positioning, using the Vanishing Point, countersteering and so on.  The timing was perfect as she's shortly due to tour the South Island so what better time for a refresher and then apply the learning on an epic journey to Hobbit country?

Up early to meet with Charlotte in the South Auckland area called Bombay, some 130 km from home.  I'll mention the southern part of the journey shortly!

460 km for the day in beautiful weather

Meet Charlotte and her Bonneville

Over coffee, we discussed exactly what Charlotte wanted to revise and then discussed the plan and route we'd take.  I lead for the first part of the journey east to an area with a mix of sweepers, blind bends and terrain changes, then put Charlotte up front for the return journey.  This is where the Sena SMH 10 helmet to helmet comms set really comes into its own as you can give immediate feedback on a particular set of actions or answer a query without waiting until you stop at a later stage - far more effective.  It was clear that Charlotte had been working hard on her extreme positioning as it was excellent and the only advice was to get into position a little earlier.  Judging corner entry speed by using the vanishing point and countersteering through a range of corner profiles is simply a matter of practice but there was a noticeable improvement throughout the session.  

Next came a 60 km loop in the area to observe general roadcraft which was of a good standard.  However, it's always amusing at this stage of the advanced roadcraft programme that the newer rider tends to forget some of the techniques already learned whilst trying to implement new ones due to the stress of the situation and going into mental overload!  It was only a year or thereabouts ago that fellow IAM member Roger and I were in a similar position so it's refreshing to have a quiet snigger rather than be sniggered at!  All said and done though, it's the hugely demanding programme which makes passing the full membership test such a source of internal pride.  Really looking forward to see how Charlotte develops as she has a great attitude and has made an excellent start.

Hi-viz IAM slip-on covering tasteful silver and black leathers :-)

After a coaching session lasting until mid-afternoon, the normal routine would be to head home ready for a cold beer and an evening meal, but this wasn't a normal day. After saying our goodbyes, next stop was south to the city of Hamilton.  The previous day, I'd been contacted by my mentor Wayne to be tested on the 2 remaining modules of the Observer training programme.  Wayne runs a driving/riding school and is incredibly busy.  However, one of the hallmarks of IAM senior members is their generosity in donating their time to raise riding and driving standards so Wayne was happy to take me out at a time that most people were sitting down for an evening meal!

 My mentor Wayne - this guy can REALLY ride!

The first step was to give Wayne a pre-ride briefing covering safety aspects, ride rules etc as that was one of the modules to be ticked off.  If it had been a trainee being briefed, the route would have also been described.  However, as Wayne is a Senior Observer and was assessing me, he already had a (challenging) route in mind. Regular readers of this blog will remember the satisfaction I recently got from setting the pace for another trainee Observer who needed to pass the "Observing a Quick Rider" module.  This was the very module I needed to pass last night so it was my turn for a bit of anxiety, mainly because Wayne is an ex-police chief riding instructor for one of the provinces in NZ!  All I'm prepared to say (with considerable understatement) is that he made me really sweat down country back roads I wasn't familiar with and it was a true test of both keeping up with him and watching for deliberate errors in his riding at the same time!!!  Delighted to report that I passed and the final steps before becoming a qualified Observer are to complete a ride observing a trainee under the watchful gaze of the Chief Examiner and then completing the written exam.  Watch this space - starting to get the jitters!

Got home at sunset - a long mentally and physically demanding day in the saddle but by golly, this sort of day is why we ride bikes, isn't it???  Thanks Charlotte and Wayne for making it such a memorable one!


20 comments:

  1. Hi Geoff

    Looks like you all had a great day.
    I really like the idea of IAM . Do you know if there is a branch in the lower north island of if its just Auckland area ?

    Cheers Phil

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  2. Hi Phil - good to hear from you again! You'll see my email link on the website. Send me your email address and I'll send you some info tomorrow. There is a branch in Wellington that's just gaining some traction.

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  3. While you were out galivanting around the country side, I was attempting to keep the NZ economy functioning by working....

    I havernt had fish in ages ........

    Race you to observer status.....!

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    Replies
    1. Rog,
      Galivanting??? I was merely trying to promote road safety in an unpaid capacity :-)

      What you need is time out to go fishing!!

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  4. Interesting "day at the office". I wish mine were like yours.

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    1. Hi Richard,
      That's because you're an energetic youngster and not an old, retired layabout like me :-)

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  5. Sure sounds like fun geoff, sounds like the "Observing a quick rider module" could be very tricky. What happens if you can't keep up? or if you are riding dangerously to keep up?> Very interesting to say the least. Can I swap my office for yours?

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    Replies
    1. Steve,
      It WAS fun, but Wayne really made me work for it. He wasn't allowed to to exceed the speed limit but the corner speed he carried in the tight stuff was amazing. I guess if I hadn't been able to keep up, I wouldn't be ready to become an Observer yet. Same for riding dangerously - Wayne would have seen that I wasn't applying the IAM techniques. Riding to UK police standards is very demanding and that's why it takes months or years as opposed to simply doing a 1 day advanced course!

      No thanks, I like my office!

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  6. It seems that your goal of becoming a qualified Observer is getting closer Geoff. It made me smile when you mentioned the stress of being observed makes the person being watch forget some of what they previously learned. I once attended an excellent ‘Bike Safe’ one day observed riding day here in the UK, when you are followed by an experienced rider who then comments on your riding techniques. Stressful enough, but when that observer is a police motorcyclist on their police bike in full biking uniform, I can assure you the stress level increases dramatically! The feeling soon wears off though because you soon realise that the policeman is there to help you and it is inevitable that you soon relax. For me, the day was very enjoyable, so I can imagine how you must be enjoying your own training.

    I understand about getting the jitters, but will you pass? I have no doubts whatsoever!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Gary,
      Thanks for the vote of confidence. Very close now but it might surprise you when I say that I still have doubts about passing first time. It's that very stress that you mention, not so much the business of being followed at this stage but of letting myself down by making a single, stupid mistake on the day. It's just a question of relaxing, going out and delivering the goods but easier said than done!

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  7. What a great day. Congrats on being one step closer.

    Glad you had some nice weather too.

    I suppose there is little to no chance of Rogey stuffing you in his suitcase so you could join the party over here in January. You've ridden a Blackbird....... being folded over in a suitcase for hours should be easy. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Cheers Brandy!

      Yeah, the forecast (probably wrong) is for a long, hot summer.

      I would absolutely love to come over and meet you all. However, thinking of my good mate Rogey, for all his new-found resolve at the gym; I'd hate to give him a heart attack lifting the suitcase and deprive you of the dubious pleasure of meeting him in person :-)

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  8. Not a bad day in the office? I want your job! Oh, what you're retired. Well, need to wait about two decades to make that happen...

    Charlotte is so lucky! You guys do such an awesome job to make riders ride safer.
    Next time around I'll rent a bike, and you help me gaining some advanced techniques, too?

    Aaahh, riding your Striple in New Zealand of all places will always be one of my most cherished memories.

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    1. Hi Sweetheart!!

      Hehehe - all good things come to those who wait ;-)

      Is Charlotte lucky?? You know what Rog and I are like.... perhaps she'd secretly like to kill me! We'd take you out any time hon - wouldn't have lent you the Triple if I didn't think you were a good rider already but maybe we could add some icing on the cake! Interestingly enough, this chap who is an instructor in B.C has just got back from NZ: http://bisonmotorcyclesafetyconsultants.webs.com/

      And meeting you in person is one of mine. Stick Roland in your back pack next time :-)

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  9. Evening Geoff,
    Enjoyed reading about your day's riding.
    Cheers,
    Mark

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    Replies
    1. Evening Mark and thanks.

      All happened in a bit of a rush, but sometimes events like that turn out to be the best of all!

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  10. Hey Geoff, sounds like a great day of riding.

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    1. Hi Jules,
      Yep, not too shabby. The next one will be rather more stressful though :-)

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  11. Good luck with your observer training and test Geoff. I've only passed into full membership – would like to do the observer training but the time commitment is beyond what I have available (let alone actually taking out associates if I passed!)

    Hotmetal

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    1. Thanks Hotmetal and congrats on passing full membership. Only people who have done it actually know how rigorous it is! If I hadn't retired, I might think twice too about Observing, particularly as I have to travel 160km+ one way at present until membership increases in my area.

      BTW, our Chief Examiner wass ex-Thames Valley IAM until he emigrated about 8 years ago.

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