The Police Roadcraft "bible"
The journey to raise my mediocre riding standard by joining IAM has been documented earlier in the blog. Firstly by passing the Advanced Test after 8 months of blood, sweat and tears, then going on to train as an Observer (Instructor) which took a further year and enables me to "pay it forward" by helping others. I'm currently Senior Observer for my region of NZ and spent last weekend in Auckland helping to start a number of riders who have passed their Advanced Test on their journey to becoming Observers themselves. Hence the reference in the post title as going full circle!
It really is one of those rare occasions in life where there is no downside whatsoever. I get to ride my bike in the company of people who care about their riding and want to continually upskill. It also forces me to maintain my personal standards as I get retested every two years! When I first became an Observer, it was Dan Bateman from Team Oregon rider training in the US who said to me, "Remember that you will forever be known differently now. It is a tremendous responsibility to always reflect the proper ideals” . He was absolutely on the money, but the benefits have been enormous, not the least being my own enjoyment of riding having increased immeasurably.
Anyway, back to the weekend.....
Chief Examiner Philip opening proceedings
The two days consisted of presentations by experienced Observers on the technicalities of how to observe both good riding and improvement opportunities in a rider's skill set and how to succinctly incorporate them into debriefing the rider and giving them a detailed written report focussing on both the things they do well and improvement areas to practice.
Some of the attentive participants, sweating on what was to come!
Observer Richard covering some of the interpersonal skills
Theory is interspersed with practice rides, where Observers become the "new" riders being assessed and build in subtle errors into their riding. The Trainee Observers practice observing what riders do well and areas for improvement whilst giving directions over comms. Having to remember key items in the ride to discuss later whilst maintaining their own standards is far from easy!
Nervous grin from Trainee Observer Hayden as he prepares to observe my riding!
This is my favourite part of the course where Trainee Observers are filled with panic, trying to remember all the positives and improvement areas ready to complete a coherent report on return. Every one of them makes the same comment - so much information to process in addition to maintaining their own riding. Most of the immediate feedback at ride end is actually rather colourful and involves words that won't bear repeating on these pages. Being called a complete bastard was one of the milder things I've been labelled on previous courses - all in fun of course. Takes me back to when I was in the same position and what I thought of my mentor!
Trainee Observer Tessa debriefing Steve
Riders from Auckland and Wellington in deep discussion
If it was easy, it wouldn't have the reputation that it does and riders wouldn't have the level of quiet pride that they do in both achieving a huge personal milestone and having a real impact on road safety. It also has a spin-off into life away from motorcycling in terms of personal conduct and interaction with other people. As mentioned earlier, there has been no downside whatsoever to becoming a member of IAM and hopefully, will allow me to enjoy motorcycling well into my 70's. Not too bad for someone who could be described as a bit of a hooligan until a few years ago!
Finally, one of the riders who joined IAM a year ago has written a blog about his experiences, warts 'n all. Rob rides a Suzuki Hayabusa and was already what might be described as an experienced rider. Very well written with refreshing honesty and a lot of humour. The first blog post is HERE . Newer posts can be accessed by clicking on Newer Posts at the bottom of each page or through the archive. Rob passed his Advanced Test at the start of this month and has now started on the road to becoming an Observer. Another turn of the wheel!