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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

A nice win for the team

I must be a bit of a disappointment to magazine sellers, no matter what the subject matter as I don't subscribe to any of them.  In fact, the only time I night buy them is if I'm in a shop waiting for Jennie, bored and there's a handy magazine rack.  Motorcycle mags (naturally!), boating/fishing or house & garden mags are normally what attracts my interest but I haven't looked at any for months.

However, a couple of weeks before Christmas, Tony, one of the Institute of Advanced Motorists Trainee Observers (mentors) that I'm coaching rang and asked me whether I'd seen an article in NZ Bike Rider magazine about safe road positioning.  Tony was pretty disappointed with the article as he thought that it needed a lot more context and could be misleading in its published form.  I suggested that he contacted the magazine and constructively point out where he thought it fell short of the mark.

Tony wrote an excellent email with no hint of one-upmanship or negativity and a few days later, received a reply from Sean Willmot, the Assistant Editor.  Sean's response was gracious and as Tony doesn't live far from the magazine's editorial offices, Sean asked whether they could meet for a chat.  Cutting to the chase, they hit it off extremely well and Tony was able to talk about the UK Police Roadcraft system which IAM and other organisations use as the basis for advanced training.  It ended up with Sean being invited along for an initial assessment, which he was happy to accept.

It was a great opportunity to make the ride part of Tony's coaching programme so I went along to keep an eye on proceedings.

Tony (L) giving Sean a pre-ride briefing

We spent a couple of hours on major highways and highly technical twisty back roads with significant gradient changes, stopping for a ride mid-point debrief to discuss our observations with Sean.  The pre-ride briefing made it abundantly clear that the assessment had nothing to do about being either a good or poor rider, simply to determine what was done well and what improvements could be made as a starting point.  It would have been a surprise if Sean had been seriously lacking good skills given the amount of time he spends in the saddle but nonetheless, Tony was able to identify some improvement areas which Sean happily acknowledged.

Tony and Sean in the high country overlooking the Firth of Thames

What did surprise Sean was Tony's outstanding demonstration of a continuous commentary over the comms, showing his situational awareness and how this was impacting on his road position, speed, gear selection and acceleration sense.  Sean couldn't believe just how much information Tony was processing at any given moment whilst maintaining good progress.

At the end of the ride, there was a final debrief together with a detailed written report and Sean announced that he'd be joining IAM in 2018 as no matter how experienced you thought you were, learning never stopped.  He then said that he was going to write a series of articles about his journey with IAM for the magazine which was a fantastic outcome and may encourage other riders to do the same.

A few days ago, the latest Bike Rider magazine came out and there is a 2 page spread about Sean's assessment experience.  Very well written and complimentary.  Amazing what a bit of courtesy and positivism can do as opposed to having a rant at someone!

Page 1 of Sean's article


Arty-farty shot taken on Coromandel wharf  at sunset after getting back from the ride

12 comments:

  1. This is a great story. I think most people would just not bother writing to a magazine editor as ia waste of time and effort.

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    1. Thanks Richard,
      I think the real message is that if a constructive approach is taken, anything is possible. Most readers responses to newspaper items are invariably negative and challenging (and depressing). This is the polar opposite!

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  2. It just needed the right guy to contact a guy with a good attitude who just happens to have large(well, NZ large here...) reach and BOOM, IAM might have just taken off!!
    Excellent outcome!

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    1. Thanks Dave!
      Yep, being prepared to put up your hand and be positive is the key here. At present, the limiting factor to IAM growth is how quickly we can train mentors (min 8 months). We seem to have reached a point in NZ where upskilling is no longer a dirty word. As well as that, we also now have a good national framework for good quality post-full licence training.

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  3. That's very cool Geoff. Nicely done by the two of you. After that ride I was on the other day there are definitely a huge number of riders that need some help. But then they are of the type who think that they're fantastic riders on their ridiculous hardware. I've been very tempted to post my videos on a certain Facebook page but I doubt it will achieve anything except getting me kicked out of the group (not that that would worry me).

    Signed, he who is still shaking his head...

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    1. Hi Andrew,
      I think your recent post hit the nail on the head with regard to a certain percentage of the motorcycling community. They may be beyond redemption but as I mentioned to Dave, more riders seem positively disposed to on-going upskilling these days. The quality and great price of the Ride Forever programme must be a real incentive. We find that providers point riders towards IAM once those 3 levels (soon to be 4 I think) have been attained.

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    2. I've heard good things about the Ride Forever course but I'm too scared to go on one ;)

      Maybe I need to visit a friendly IAM dude one day...

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    3. They are only one day courses but they use some of the basic elements of Roadcraft. Good value though and an excellent stepping stone to the longer term Roadcraft Advanced Test with IAM.

      Coffee and cake (or a pie) will get you anywhere with IAM ;-)

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  4. What a good outcome Geoff. Even if every rider reads that and only 1 rider take up the IAM course you are still one rider better off, and as word spread bigger and better things will come. Roadcraft is something every bike rider needs to learn so that they will one day become and old biker.

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    1. Sure was Steve! If it wasn't for upskilling, I'd have stopped riding well before now :-)

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  5. Very nice artsy-fartsy shot!

    It is good to see that teaching someone and educating them can be worth more than venting. The power of positivity!

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  6. Thanks Brandy!
    It's always tempting to vent but it's rarely effective. In my case, tradespeople in our village are always hard to get hold of so I try and build good relationships by paying bills on time and always thanking them for turning out. Normally seems to work and I guess it applies to wider aspects of life.

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