Wheel alignment

Thursday 17 February 2011

Putting the money where my mouth is

Exercising caution in "Deliverance" country!

In the recent blog posts on ageing motorcyclists and prolonging your riding career in general, one of the key factors was attending formal training on a periodic basis to consolidate and attain additional skills, as well as it being a useful indicator to see whether you can still ride competently. 

Well.......  it would be double standards not to practice what you preach and I'd fully intended to do a coached track day this year to supplement the roadcraft courses attended over the years.  However, a friend recently reckoned that I should look at becoming an instructor and that got me thinking.  Instructing is light years away from previously attending an advanced course as a trainee but thinking about it, it would be a means of putting something back into the local community as to the best of my knowledge; there isn't anything remotely like it in our locality. 

I hadn't considered making any of this public on the blog as the outcome is far from certain - all sorts of potential humiliations await!!  However, I'd incautiously mentioned it in passing to fellow bike blogger Julian Pearce of Tarsnakes fame.  Probably wanting to see a bit of public embarrasment (just joking Jules!), he suggested that there might be some interest from fellow bloggers by documenting the process as I go forward.  So here we are, warts 'n all.  If it all turns to custard, he'll be on the "Most Wanted" list pronto :-).

In reality, it's more a case of win-win.  The rigours of training alone will be great on a personal improvement basis and should have on-going benefits as I age.  At the end of it, if I'm good enough to qualify as an instructor which is by no means certain; it will be great to put something back into the motorcycling community.  I should point out that commercial aspects of instruction don't enter into the equation, being retired and debt-free.  However, I'm a strong supporter of voluntary work and if there's any way to assist other riders to stay safe; that's a perfect outcome.

So taking a deep breath, here's where we stand at the start of the journey, which is information-collecting and deciding on a course of action...

A riding partner and close personal friend is senior mechanical engineer at the NZ Transport Agency, a government department concerned with many aspects of road transport including licensing, training and all matters in between.  An email to him provided me with the formal framework for being endorsed as an instructor: Instructor Endorsement .  The  study standards on the webpage set by the NZ Qualifications Authority cover the many aspects of instruction in more detail .  I need to read it all fully to work out whether this route will give what I'm looking for.

Also, the UK Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has a branch in NZ.  Membership starts with with a 90-odd minute PRACTICAL TEST by an IAM-qualified rider (called an Observer) under a whole range of road conditions.  Their tests and courses aren't the dumbed-down examinations which seem to have crept into most fields of endeavour these days and are notoriously challenging (and so they should be).  An email has been duly despatched along with some significant trepidations to follow up on this particular avenue of self-improvement.

A friend in the UK who is an IAM Observer has also sent an email with comprehensive details about how the whole process works there for which I'm very grateful.  I'm picking that the process will be identical or pretty similar in NZ.  If I decide to go down this route, then I'll lay out the details in subsequent posts.  The high standards required are quite overwhelming but like any endeavour worth pursuing, that's the only way to get any sense of achievement.  At this early stage, gut instinct tells me that this may be the way to go due to the voluntary support process for riders wishing to raise their competence.

I still have some reservations about making my intentions and the journey itself public as there will be a good few ego-challenging occasions along the road to hopeful improvement.  I think I'll still be able to laugh at myself through thick and thin though and it might provide more than a few insights of various kinds to anyone else who cares deeply about their riding.  Wish me luck.  No, don't do that as luck doesn't come into it.  Tell me to get stuck in and not to be a wuss!

More on all this as things develop.......

Decking everything on my Blackbird in an "approved" and carefully-considered manner :-)

Here's your one question quiz .... why am I out wide on this corner?  No spectacular prizes will be awarded - sorry!


  1. Kudos to you for taking on this new adventure. I know a few people who have thought of becoming instructors.

    I am sure you will do great and have lots of stories to share with us along the way. Always good to take more training and continue learning.

    As for the picture... after studying it....I'd guess it is so that you can see further around the corner to make sure there are no surprises waiting for you. Late apex and all that good stuff.

    Happy riding.

  2. What Trobairitz said. It's either that or you were running too hard and fast for the corner and drifted to the outer edge of the lane. Nah, you wouldn't do that. Would you?

  3. All the best with the training/instructing Geoff...looking forward to hearing more about the journey!

    As for the photo, I would have to agree with the others - you were going wide enough to get a good run and view around the corner.....either that, or you looked at the black marks (to your left in the photo) and decided you would may like to replicate them all the way to the centre line.... :)

    Have to say that I love the first photo too, I really admire the profile of the Street Triple. It truely is a beautiful machine....so what did you have to offer "Lonnie" so he would stop picking his banjo to take your photo?

  4. Youth is wasted on the young! Good stuff, very much looking forward to hearing about the journey ahead. As for the pic, it is obvious that you trying your hardest to keep up with the triumph that has all ready rounded the corner. I know, I know, I am just a wealth of information some times!

  5. Trobairitz/Canajun/Anthony:
    Cheers! I suspect it's going to be a rocky road but I promise not to leave anything out as the tale develops.

    Yep, I was late apexing to maximise sight lines, particularly as I know that corner well and not only do morons corner-cut it, but debris tends to fall from the cliff on my left. So it's maximising view for all potential hazards. Just a couple of other points too - that corner nearly doubles back on itself and I was chasing the Vanishing Point to get the correct entry speed and a smooth line through the whole corner - more important when grip is an issue on wet days etc.

    Canajun: It's an easy corner to messup but not on this occasion, haha!

    Anthony: Just offered Lonnie an ice cream and kept my leathers well-zipped while he was busy :-). Lots of hippies in that area but I think they're too spaced-out to give anyone much grief!

  6. Roger:
    Sigh...... youth is certainly wasted on you, you dipstick :-). I'm riding a Triumph because I'm old and ride slowly but what's your excuse???

    Nice one mate....

  7. Regarding the last photo, I noticed the "15" on the sign opposite the corner. Is that the recommended speed limit for that bend?

    We have that sort of thing here and when I was riding the Derbi I often took the recommendations as a challenge to "double it and add 10!" Things are slightly more civilised on the V-Strom....:)

  8. Anthony,
    You have it exactly (in km/hr of course)and I use the "double up" strategy too but only above about 50 km/hr as the slow speed ones are closer to the truth!!!

    I've seen reports from visiting motorcycle journos overseas about how they really rate those advisory speed signs.

  9. Geoff:

    Geoff, naughty boy. I understand the late apex and sight lines, but here in British Columbia you are doing a risky procedure. We have logging trucks loaded to the brim with long logs using a cradle/saddle affair could be more than 40 ft long. they have to cut the corner on tight turns. Most often you have to staddle the line early, hug the cliff and apex later to view around the corner.

    It was during a seminar hosted by David Hough where he posted slides of corners and asked the audience where you would apex. Slides were taken from a distance, and subsequent slides revealed more danger, up to the point where a logging truck was over the line on the curve.

    I can't wait to read more about your proficiency adventures

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  10. Gidday Bob!

    Not naughty at all - we have an identical situation in Coromandel, not to mention loopy tourists in camper vans doing the same thing but with less care. The photo shows me going in wide for maximum view, increasing time to change line for whatever reason. Going in hugging the left (on NZ roads) puts you at greater risk. Perhaps I should have used terminology a bit better.

    ... or lack of proficiency adventures in my case :-(

  11. Nice one! I've been guilty of giving advice to other riders (particularly noobies), but I always worry whether I'm telling them the right thing and cringe when I think that others are offering poor advice. Perhaps I can be one of your first students?

    Oh, nice line BTW, but I think I'd prefer that corner going the other way...

  12. Andrew:
    Yeah, always worried about getting a "what do you know anyway?" response from squids if trying to help out. Crikey mate, you're game :-)

    Cheers and likewise. That corner is steep downhill so your forks are under near full compression. Much nicer the other way just using the throttle for control. Western side of the Coromandel Hill.

  13. Haha, publishing it on a blog is a good way to create accountability! They say the best way to learn something is to teach it to others.

    I wasn't wondering why you were wide on the corner...I was wondering why you're in the wrong lane! ;)

    So you have a better view around the corner, and to set up for a nice line around the corner.

    Best wishes in your endeavors!

  14. See..... perfect answers and responses to your corner line positioning.....two parts the way there to getting that Observers ticket already....

  15. Nice corner line, nice answers, it's the Observer in you coming out Geoff. The negative boys don't come to us in the first place only the ones with the right mindset.

  16. My hat is off to you, Sir. Educating the motorcycling public is truly a noble cause. I admire IronDad Dan Bateman's devotion to the education of motorcycle safety.


  17. Hi Kari and thanks!
    Absolutely - no backing out now without universal loss of face; no bad thing.

    Yup, we Kiwis like to live dangerously riding on the wrong side of the road :-)

    Happy travels..

  18. Hahaha - Hello Dylan the IAM Observer!!! I see I'm going to have to be careful what I post or there will be secret messages flying back and forth between IAM NZ and IAM UK about candidate suitability ;-). Now wouldn't it be something if you emigrate and end up as my observer **shudder**.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  19. Geoff:

    as Kari said about riding on the wrong side of the road. I tried it once over here and it just didn't feel right . I don't know how you manage to do it so gracefully

    Wet Coast Scootin

  20. Bob:
    Was that when you ran wide on a corner and there was a logging truck filling your field of vision, hehe?

  21. What do you mean shudder......might end up with Jo....hahaha now that is shudder....hehe. Dropping by...no...this is a journey that I am really going to enjoy following and reading of the exploits of a very brave biker, not the doing but the sharing.....go for it....

  22. Dylan:
    What can I say and still walk upright??? Safe to say that I'm already used to being bossed around by someone I love dearly so what would be new??? :-)

  23. It's a great endeavor Geoff and I can see by the comments already that folk are genuinely interested.

    I'll put my money where my mouth is and come over to NZ and do a course with you as a student within the first year of you getting qualified.

    Cheers Jules.

  24. Jules!!!
    It's you and David Hough I have to thank for all the recent collaborative work pricking my conscience and making me think.

    Hahaha - you like to live dangerously, do you? Dylan, one of the posters above will be living over here by then so you'll be spoiled for choice. Have a fantastic trip next week and safe riding....

  25. Allen:
    Sorry about the delay - for some weird reason, your post only just came through although it's up the list a bit. Thanks very much. Apart from wanting to pay it forward to other motorcyclists, the rural area we live in is really big on voluntary service; like most rural areas probably. Jennie and I are already computer tutors for senior citizens and it's nice to try and do something for an interest that I'm passionate (read absolutely nuts)about.

  26. I think it is a great endeavor! And I look forward to following the learning process. And the slow realizations of what you have been doing wrong all these years. But I really want to hear your critique of Raftnn's riding... ;) And watch you teach him a lesson or two going through those twisties! LOL.

    I enjoy riding on the wrong side of the road. Great thrill!!


  27. Lori:
    I'm looking forward to the whole thing too. Also looking forward to my first ride with Roger but not to try to teach him a lesson or two - that would REALLY be tempting Karma to intervene on his behalf!!!

  28. Geoff - remember 60 is the new 40! Your positive attitude toward rider training at any age is a message you need examplify as a trainer. Go for it!

  29. Hi VStarLady and thanks for dropping by!
    Totally agree. Not too hard to achieve a youthful attitude when my wife says that I've got the mental age of a 5 year old! Very much looking forward to the journey, although not without worrying about my competence!

    Hey, you have a great blog and i look forward to working my way through it!



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