It's been as near as dammit to 58 years since I got my first motorcycle. I clearly remember cycling as a UK schoolboy to the nearby coffee bar to watch riders on their British twins sticking a record on the jukebox and trying to complete a lap of the town centre before the record finished! The freedom to do exciting stuff and explore new horizons had a massive impact on a hormonal teen. It wasn't just me who was smitten long term with bikes. My close friend Rick whom I grew up with is still riding at the same age (74) and was also a classic car owner long before me.
Regular readers of the blog will know that back in 2011 aged 63, I joined IAM RoadSmart NZ to learn Police Roadcraft advanced riding techniques. This was principally to safely extend my riding as I aged, following some lively correspondence with US motorcycle safety guru David Hough. In simple terms, he challenged me to actually do something formal to lift my game rather than just talk about it. The 11 years that followed were the most rewarding of my riding career. For the first time, I had tools to measure my own skills (or lack of) and once formal qualifications had been acquired, was able to pay it forward by helping other riders to upskill. I've made some wonderful friends as a result and so many people to thank for helping me along the way that it's not possible to name everyone. However, one person who I can never thank enough is Philip McDaid. At that time, Philip was IAM Chief Motorcycle Examiner and also my principal mentor. It goes without saying that Philip's riding skills are sublime but his teaching ability and complete lack of ego makes him very special indeed. That humility and a passion for excellence is something which every IAM mentor in our region has personally adopted and built into the culture of the organisation.