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!