It never rains in Essex!
The exact phrase used by Pete the Free when offering to organise the traditionally soggy Spring meeting. Of the two competing traditions, the rain definitely won.
Armed with furry dice on our fairing stays and appropriate Essex attire (imitation tiger scarves being one item) the largest gathering yet of Quick Quacks braved torrential rain to converge on Rivenhall End for the 1999 Spring meeting. At first it seemed as if Pete's prediction would come true. Having travelled from the Midlands unable to see more than a few yards ahead due to spray, I passed the county sign for Essex and as if on cue, the sun came out.
Following a good meal and several drinks, we retired early in preparation for an early start on our near 300-mile planned Saturday ride.
Saturday started grey and damp, but not actually raining. Pete, Chris and Mike H had planned the route with military precision. We were riding in three separate groups, because of the different speeds of the riders and the sheer logistical difficulty of keeping 20 bikers together. These were termed Sports, Progressive and Touring. The route was complicated and at times threaded through roads that could have been mistaken by somebody who didn't know better as farm tracks, so we used a system of "markers" strategically placed by each turning to ensure nobody got lost. This worked well, riders always sure of the way they should turn, and allowed people to change position in the group after their role as "marker" had been fulfilled.
The first leg of the journey before coffee was dry, and took us into
Hertfordshire along some fast sweeping bends and some tight technical twisties.
Sadly at this point the Sports group, initially quite small, got smaller
as Lee lost the front end on a manhole cover (allegedly). Fortunately he
was not injured, but his beloved Triumph was. We stopped for coffee at
a Little Chef, at which point the Progressive group caught the Touring
group after a detour for new gloves (Keith melted his trying to dry them
on the fire).
The second leg took us back into Essex and Cambridgeshire, again taking in some wonderful tight technical twisties. Although technical, none of the bends held nasty surprises such as a tightening radius, and we all navigated this section intact, converging on the beautiful village of Finchingfield for lunch in a tea shop on the green.
The sky was darkening ominously as we set off on the third leg of the ride, and true to form, the heavens opened as we headed for Suffolk. We were all struggling to see through the spray and rain on our visors, with water running down the inside and steaming up the visor and spectacles alike. I could not see the road ahead at all, much less if there was a bend looming. It was good to follow somebody, and not so good to lead, mainly because I knew if I misread a bend, several other bikes would probably follow me into the hedge! The rain affected Andy's brake light switch, leaving the light on as a beacon for us to follow, for which I was grateful, although the road surface remained treacherous, with mud slicks, gravel and all kinds of interesting hazards to trap the unwary.
So we made slow and soggy progress to Flatford Mill for afternoon tea. It was still raining, so most of us wore our helmets as hats to keep our head dry, while we shared the view of the famous painting with a few rather forlorn dripping ducks before giving up and heading for the tea room, the heater, some hot chocolate and a decision about the rest of the day.
Pete had also planned a run down to the coast, but by this time we were all wet, cold and tired, so instead we headed back down the A12 to the hotel for a well-earned warm bath or jacuzzi.
After drinks in the local pub, we gathered for an evening meal. We drunk a toast to my metal femur, which was a year old to the day, and talked bikes, medicine and tall tales of sliding rear ends, mud slicks and the other feats of the day. Sadly, Jane W had to return home unwell, and her presence (and Steve's) were greatly missed, on the ride and at the social event.
Sunday dawned sunny and warm, and folks were up early, washing their bikes, and gearing up for the long trip home. The club meeting was brisk and business-like, then we all found out just how wet our stuff had become on Saturday, when we squelched back into our leathers and kitted up ready to leave. Mercifully my trip to the Midlands was dry, although not without incident when I got hopelessly lost in Essex, but had an enjoyable ride before hitting the M11 and heading for home. Highlight of the trip back was moving in to allow a tailgater to pass me on the A14 just before a speed camera....I did smile when he got flashed J
I am sure everybody who was present would like to thank Pete, Chris C and Mike H for organising a superb meeting, and a brilliant Saturday ride. Hope to see you all in September in Northumberland.
Election of club officers
In the absence of anybody else who wished to do this, Sarah agreed to continue in the role of Editor
Sarah agreed to continue as club BMF liaison.
Jane was unable to attend the meeting due to ill health. We unanimously agreed that we would ask Jane if she was willing to continue as Treasurer.
There was also a discussion about the ideal size of the club. We felt the club was now a nice size but that we could easily accommodate more members without it losing the small and friendly atmosphere, since not all members attend all meetings. We thought up to 200 members would be possible without losing the feel of a small club, although we doubted this would be achieved.
BMF Shows and Publicity
There was no flood of volunteers to man stands at various BMF events, but we agreed to try and put a poster on the BMF stand at the NEC show in November.
We agreed that now the subscriptions were being collected on an organised basis and we had some club funds available, the newsletter could be put out for copying/printing.
We discussed whether we would like more newsletters in each year, rather than the current two issues. After initial enthusiasm, we agreed that we should only have a newsletter when there was some news. Since this was usually only after a meeting, we would stick with two a year, unless there was sufficient material for extra editions.
Gary was willing to design new t-shirts and put the designs on the web site. He was also willing to get shirts made for those who could not access the web and make their own t-shirt transfers. We agreed that it was not appropriate for speculative purchase of t-shirts, and members need to sign up in advance. Gary will look into the cost of a new run of t-shirts.
We agreed to have more stickers made similar to the existing bike stickers, supplies of which are now exhausted.
We also agreed to have introductory leaflets printed rather than Sarah making them at home, and some posters made available to members to advertise Quick Quacks.
Jane left a financial report with Pete. The funds are now healthy, and members had just paid their subscriptions, so these look healthier still. Pete asked everybody to check that the hotel had deducted their deposit from the final bill.
Gary offered to organise the next meeting in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders in September. We agreed this should be the second weekend in September (10th-12th) to avoid problems with school holidays.
We also discussed the possibility of having the Spring 2000 meeting in Europe, and there was general enthusiasm for this. We agreed to look into possible dates to avoid clashes with school holidays, bank holidays and holidays in Europe. We agreed that we could discuss with European biking doctor/dentist clubs about the possibility of meeting up during our European trip. We agreed to investigate this and start planning early.
Pete read out two letters, one from Jane W and one from Lee, both of whom had to leave the meeting early although for different reasons. Bonny thanked Pete for organising the meeting, which duly ended with a round of applause for and excellent meeting and our new Chairman.
British Motorcycle Federation (BMF)
Quick Quacks Motorcycle Club has now joined the BMF, but what does this actually mean? The BMF has been going longer than some Quick Quacks members. It was founded in 1960 as a federation of individual motorcycle clubs to pursue, promote and protect the rights of motorcyclists. It is now a strong federation of three types of club: National, One-Make and Local, together with individual members. National and One-Make clubs comprise the bulk of the membership (93,000), Local clubs around 25,000, and individual members the remaining 12,000. Quick Quacks has joined as a national club.
So what do the BMF actually do? First and foremost it is a riders rights organisation, and therefore campaigns at local, national and international level to protect and promote the rights of motorcyclists. Examples of areas of current lobbying include:-
It also has an extensive regional network of clubs, with events being organised for the clubs and individual members at regional level. Events include regular meetings, charity rides, rallies, camping events and parties. It also organises several motorcycle shows and rallies, including the BMF Show in Peterborough (May 23rd 1999), the Garden of England Motorcycle Show (19th-20th June), the Great Northern Bike Show at Croft Circuit (10th October) and the Tail End Show, later in the year.
Through an associated organisation, the BMF Rider Training Scheme provides training to CBT, DSA test and advanced level, with centres around the country.
What benefits does a club get from joining? First of all, the club is supporting for a relatively modest fee, all the campaigning work being done to ensure that responsible motorcyclists are not hampered or impeded by restrictive legislation, and that their rights are protected and promoted. Affiliation to the BMF means that Quick Quacks now has the right to be represented at meetings of the National and One-Make Clubs groups, and the BMF AGM. If we wish to suggest activities in which the BMF could become involved, or alterations or additions to its policy and campaigning activities, then we have the opportunity to do so. In short, it is a way of getting the benefit of a large riders rights organisation whilst retaining our identity as a club.
The BMF also run an insurance scheme to cover public liability insurance for member clubs when involved in events or meetings, except for those things covered by motorcycle insurance themselves.
Members of clubs affiliated to the BMF themselves become Affiliate Members, and can benefit from benefits negotiated on their behalf by BMF, including reduced price insurance, reduced price RAC membership, ferry discounts, reduced price entry to the BMF Show and Memba Rally, and early booking discounts for the Motorcycle Show at the NEC.
Affiliated clubs are also sent two copies of the magazine "Rider" produced by the BMF, and copies of newsletters covering political and campaigning issues, a copy of the yearbook, and a copy of various policy statements, advertisements for shows and events, associate membership cards, details of insurance schemes and RAC membership schemes and so on.
What does it cost? The cost is based on numbers of members, but at present costs less than a pound per member per year. My view is that this is excellent value for the contribution the BMF make to protecting riders rights against daft initiatives such as the Swedish plan to abolish motorcycling altogether, which could easily attract EU support, given the unsympathetic view taken of motorcycling at European level.
What if you want further information? As a member of Quick Quacks, you are automatically an associate member of the BMF. However you can also join as an individual member if you want to participate in regional activities, or just contribute a bit more to the cause.
You can get individual membership forms from Dr Sarah Walters (BMF Liaison Officer) or directly from the BMF at Jack Wiley House, 129, Seaforth Avenue, New Malden, Surrey, KT3 6JU. Telephone 0181 942 7914. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out more about the BMF Rider Training Scheme at PO Box 159, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD8 9YH. Telephone 01274 545552. E-mail email@example.com.
I have a couple of spare copies of the BMF Statement on Motorcycles and the Environment entitled "Powered Two-Wheeler Use into the Twenty-First Century" if anybody is interested, please let me know at the Editor's address.
Finally, you can log into the BMF Web Site called Riderspace for detailed information about the BMF and its activities on http://www.bmf.co.uk
An Epidemiologists View of Risk - Are Motorcycles Dangerous?
"When are you gong to stop riding those dangerous machines" is a frequent plea from my colleagues at work. Colleagues who then go off ski-ing for a week, with a one in ten chance that they will be injured in the process. Colleagues who are epidemiologists and should actually have a systematic approach to appraising evidence on risk before making such statements.
So are motorcycles really dangerous? If so, how dangerous are they when compared with other modes of transport?
Are motorcycles really dangerous?
Whilst it is undoubtedly true that whatever source of official statistics you consult, motorcyclists are significantly more likely than other road users to be killed or seriously injured in a road traffic accident, the degree of excess risk depends on how the statistics are collected, analysed and interpreted.
What is the denominator?
Data may be presented with different denominators, such as number of passenger journeys, hours, or kilometers. The following table was obtained from the Bandolier web site.
If we compare the motorbike with travel by car, the relative risk of death is 22.2 for passenger journeys, 20 for passenger hours and 24.3 for passenger kilometres, a variation of 19% when compared to the average relative risk. Comparisons with cycling show more variability: 8.3 for journeys, 5.0 for hours, and 2.3 for kilometres. Therefore, use of a particular denominator could make motorcycling appear more or less risky, depending on your viewpoint. Other forms of transport are also very significantly more risky than travelling by car. For example, the relative risk for travelling on foot when compared to cars is 13.3, using the passenger kilometre denominator, although I am not aware of moves to prevent people walking along the road on safety grounds.
These denominators reflect different things. A journey on foot is likely to be short in both distance and duration, so the likelihood of an accident occurring on any one journey is low, but once distance travelled is taken into account, the risk becomes much greater per kilometre. The risk of an accident occurring on any one journey by air is quite high, but because these journeys are usually long, and cover a very high distance, air travel becomes the safest form of travel per kilometre travelled.
Adjustment for age and sex?
There is another big problem with the figures presented in official statistics, namely the issue of the type of people who use different types of transport. The people who ride motorcycles are still, predominantly, young men, who are five times more likely than young women to be killed in an accident, and almost ten times higher than all age and sex groups. Consequently, data on motorcycle accident deaths does not take into account the overall risk of having an accident given the age and sex characteristics of riders. This has the effect of making the motorcycle seem to blame for a phenomenon that affects all modes of transport, including walking and cycling, when put into the hands of a user group more willing than others to take risks.
In order to do this, we would need an estimate of the passenger kilometres travelled by age and sex for all the above modes of transport. These data are not available from accidents reported to police, but if they were, standardisation would almost certainly eliminate some of the variation seen between motorcycles and other, "safer" modes of transport.
Not all powered two wheelers have the same level of risk. The relative risk of being killed per hundred million vehicle kilometres overall in 1988 when comparing motorbikes to cars was 8.4, and for bikes and pedal cycles, 2.9. However, the relative risk for mopeds which may be used by a different user group at lower speeds was 2.3 when compared to cars, and 0.9 when compared to pedal cycles, making them favourable by comparison.
Adjustment for journey type?
The next factor to take into account is journey type. A very high proportion of journeys by car and by pedal cycle are short journeys in town, at very low speeds, where an accident is unlikely to result in serious injury or fatality. Consequently when looking at the above figures, the proportion of miles travelled on different types of journey at different speeds needs to be taken into account.
In a study on UK trunk roads (A-designated roads), pedal cycles were found to compare unfavorably to motorcycles for accidents with injury of all severities, and fatal accidents. Similar studies have not been done for urban riding, but it is possible that at least some of the unfavorable comparison between motorcycles and pedal cycles in the crude accident figures is due to different types of journeys being undertaken using the two modes of transport. Motorcycles make many more journeys and travel longer distances on A roads than pedal cycles, where accidents resulting in injury are more likely to occur.
Reported to police or requiring medical attention?
Pedal cyclists have no licensing, registration or insurance requirements, and do not have to report accidents to the Police. Consequently many accidents which result in injury, particularly if they involve no other road user, or just a pedestrian, are unlikely to be reflected in official figures, which come from police reports.
A study from Norway, which looked at hospital attendances rather than police statistics, showed pedal cyclists to be at least twice as likely to be injured as users of any type of powered two wheeler, even more powerful motorbikes.
A study from the UK showed only 27% of accidents to pedal cycles to have been reported. Taking this into account, pedal cyclists seem to be at similar risk of being killed as motorcyclists, and at greater risk, in some cases more than twice the risk of being injured than motorcyclists. And these figures were not adjusted for age, sex, or journey type.
I am not suggesting that pedal cycles are dangerous, although they are vulnerable, as are motorcyclists and pedestrians. These figures demonstrate that the fallacy of promoting pedal cycling as an alternative means of transport, whilst refusing to support motorcycling on safety grounds. Cycling is good physical exercise, and environmentally more friendly than motorcycling, but it is not substantially safer.
Comparing like with like?
There are virtually no published statistics that really compare like with like - that take account of age, sex, types of journey, and under-reporting particularly of pedestrian and pedal cycle injuries.
One report (Minter Report) accurately estimated motorcycle mileage, and adjusted journeys for age groups. This showed the rate of casualties to exceed that of car drivers by a factor of under 4.0, very much lower than the crude rates per passenger kilometre of over 20.
The only suitable comparisons come from the occupational field, where it can be shown that police motorcyclists (Class 1), when compared with a similar cohort of car drivers (Class 1) are less likely to be involved in any accident. This is a highly selected group who are at low accident risk anyway, but the point is demonstrated that if you compare like with like, motorcycles may be a less hazardous form of transport than either popular image or misleading crude statistics suggest.
More accidents, more injuries or both?
Another popular perception is that motorcyclists are responsible for most of the accidents in which they are involved. Motorcyclists are seen as irresponsible road users, rather than vulnerable road users. In reality, most accidents (95%) on the road have some kind of individual factor involved, but around in around 70% of cases involving motorcyclists, the individual involved is another road user. The road environment is also becoming increasingly hostile to motorcyclists, with the use of excessive white lining, tar banding, and poor state of repair of roads.
The level of skill required of a motorcyclist to avoid an accident is greater than that for a car driver, because of the vulnerability of the motorcyclist to adverse road conditions and other road users. There is also a phenomenon known as risk compensation. This is when somebody, given a safer vehicle, increases their risky behaviour thus compensating for any reduction in risk. This could also work in reverse, with those knowing they are vulnerable, modifying their behaviour accordingly.
The evidence cited above suggests this to be the case: police class 1 motorcyclists are less likely to be involved in an accident than equivalent car drivers. Very little data are available on the number of accidents involving motorcyclists and cars, because often minor accidents not resulting in injury are not reported to the police, nor do they end up in health service statistics. Consequently it is not possible to say whether motorcyclists of equivalent age and experience to car drivers, on similar journeys, are at greater or lesser risk of being involved in any accident, let alone if this is the case, whether they are to blame. My suspicion is that they are not more likely to be involved in an accident, particularly one that is their fault, but if involved in one they are more vulnerable and thus more likely to be injured.
Loss of control
Another common perception is that the majority of deaths due to motorcycle accidents are due to poor machine control, resulting in a crash. I looked at mortality data from 1996 to see if this was the case, or whether poor machine control is responsible for equal numbers of deaths among other road users, after accounting for age and sex.
In 1996 there were 390 deaths of motorcyclists in traffic accidents (excluding off-road) of which only 12 were females, and a further 8 were aged 65 and over. I have therefore confined analysis to males aged 15 to 64, which comprise 95% of all deaths among motorcyclists.
I had no figures available to adjust for the number of miles travelled,
so instead of comparing crude rates, I looked at the proportion of all
motor vehicle traffic accidents (MVTA's) in each age group due to various
causes for motorcyclists and compared this with other road users in the
same age group. This provides an albeit imperfect adjustment for the number
of miles travelled, assuming that risk increases linearly and incrementally.
|Motorcyclist deaths as % of all MVTA deaths in the same age group||
|Non-collision deaths as % of all MVTA deaths - Motorcyclists||
|Non-collision deaths as % of all MVTA deaths - Other road users||
|Deaths due to loss of control (no collision) as % of all MVTA deaths - Motorcyclists||
|Deaths due to loss of control (no collision) as % of all MVTA deaths - Other road users||
So what does this table tell us? First, it tells us that motorcyclists are indeed over-represented in MVTA deaths when compared to other road users. They comprise about 1.5% of all traffic and 16.7% of all deaths, and almost a quarter of all MVTA deaths in the 15-44 year age-group (males).
But it also tells us some other interesting things. First, in the 15-44 year age-group (males), motorcyclists constitute a lower proportion of deaths from a non-collision accident than other road users, and conversely a higher proportion of deaths from a collision accident than other road users. This difference is not statistically significant. In the same age group, motorcyclists constitute a much lower proportion of deaths from an accident deemed to be due to loss of control than other road users, a difference that is statistically highly significant. It would appear that either young men riding motorcycles are less likely to have an accident due to loss of control, or less likely to die or kill somebody else as a consequence, or both, when compared to other road users of the same age and sex. Not the popular image of the reckless, irresponsible, and incompetent motorcyclist largely responsible for his own fate. It also shows the importance of comparing like age-sex groups, rather than relying on crude figures.
The proportion of deaths due to loss of control is, however, higher for motorcyclists when compared to other road users in the 45-64 age group (males). This difference is not statistically significant, but does suggest that born-again bikers climbing onto powerful modern machines and losing control may explain some of this excess. However in terms of numbers of deaths, this constitutes a much smaller group than the 15-44 age group. They may also be riding older machines, less able to cope with poor road conditions than modern machines.
It should also be borne in mind that these coded causes of deaths are assigned by Coroner's inquest, thus relying on eyewitness reports. Because of popular bias by the non-motorcycling public it is quite possible that reports of loss of control are exaggerated, and other possible causes such a defective road surfaces, deisel spills, mud, or the need to take evasive action to avoid another road user acting irresponsibly may be missed. This is particularly so if the latter is a pedestrian or cyclist who does not have to stop after such an accident, and indeed, may be unaware that an accident has occurred. It is possible, therefore, that a higher proportion of motorcycle accident deaths are attributed to loss of control than is the true proportion, and the difference between motorcycles and other vehicles may be even greater.
Other road users
Motorcycles are less likely to injure other road users should they collide with them, because even a large motorcycle carries less than a third the kinetic energy of a small car. Car accidents have been found to cause injuries to others 9 times more frequently than motorcycle accidents. Unfortunately, pedestrians and cyclists are about twice as likely to be injured by motorcycles than by cars, although the details of how these rates were calculated are unclear. This is thought to be largely due to lack of awareness of the presence of motorcycles, a problem not confined to pedestrians and cyclists, but affecting all other road users as well.
However, it is likely that increasing use of motorcycles, whilst increasing
injuries among their users, may be offset by reducing injuries among other
road users, particularly if the increased use of motorcycles is accompanied
by an increase in awareness among other road users.
I think it likely that even after adjusting for age, sex, type of journey and other factors, motorcyclists will remain at higher risk of death than other types of road user, with the possible exception of pedal cyclists. Motorcycles are powerful machines, that can be ridden fast, but which require a much greater degree of skill to ride than a car does to drive. Their riders are also more vulnerable than car drivers, and this, in combination with the speed at which they can be ridden, makes their riders more likely to be killed or injured should an accident occur.
Pedal cycles and motorcycles are forms of transport that are particularly vulnerable not just to their own mistakes, but in particular to those of other road users. Indeed, pedal cyclists appear more vulnerable in many instances because of their lack of protective clothing, lack of acceleration, and even lower visible frontal area than motorcycles. We might expect that on similar journeys, the two modes of transport have similar levels of accident resulting in injury, although motorcycles might have higher fatality rates due to increased speed. When looking at the data critically, instead of accepting crude statistics at face value, this appears to be the case.
Motorcycling is often discouraged or at best treated with neutrality by transport planners, whilst cycling is favored. The reason given for this is that motorcycling is dangerous, with the perception that this is the fault of motorcyclists, whereas cycling is only dangerous because cyclists are vulnerable. In reality, there appears to be little substance in comparing motorcycling unfavorably with cycling on safety grounds.
Advanced Rider Training
Advanced rider training refers to a wide range of activities that encompass any training that a motorcycle rider may take after passing the basic Driving Standards Agency (DSA) Test. These activities range from courses to assist those returning to motorcycling to those geared towards membership of an advanced driving and riding organisation like the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). The activities also vary in the emphasis placed on safety and speed, although all will claim to make you both faster and safer, the two not being mutually exclusive.
There are several different types of advanced training available including
The cost varies enormously, ranging from quite cheap (IAM Associateship, for example) to very expensive such as courses combined with residential accommodation and touring holidays.
Ideally, you should work out what aspects of your riding need improvement. If you cannot do this, it may be worth trying a short course, lesson or observed ride to give you ideas. Then work out the best way to get training to improve, and shop around, finding a course, instructor, or method that suits you.
I have tried three different types of advanced instruction. The first was observed rides as an IAM associate. This cost no more than the price of petrol for me and my observer, and I was very lucky to have an observer who was also very short, and therefore very sympathetic to my difficulties in reaching the ground.
The one-to-one tuition I received was excellent in sorting out my ability to take bends, and in teaching me the use of the vanishing point to judge speed through bends. Unfortunately, I was also expected to go on group rides, and the attitude of the local group did not suit my needs, being rather confrontational, requiring you to ride at quite excessive (i.e. license-losing) speeds, and generally destroying, rather than building, confidence. I was continually told I was too slow to pass the test. However, this is NOT the case with all IAM groups, but I chose not to continue my associateship after a year.
The second was a weekend residential course in Cambridgeshire, comprising two full days' tuition with two instructors, each looking after a group of three or four riders. The people on this course came from a variety of backgrounds, including one associate preparing for an IAM test, a couple of young chaps who wanted to "get faster" and a few "born agains" returning to biking after a long break, wanting to get the most out of their machines.
The group aspect was really pleasant, because we all had something in common, and so we got on quite well together. I was nervous about riding in a group, mainly because I thought I would hold them all up, and also because one of the speedy young men in my group was worried that a "girl on a 400" would slow them down. This feeling rapidly dissipated as I found out that I was much quicker than two members of the group to start with, and anyway we spend the first morning in a car park practicing U-turns!
The tuition was a mixture of roadside discussions about theory combined with some controlled riding around series of bends, controlled overtaking, emergency stops from 70mph, overtaking long vehicles, and riding through hazards in a small town. We took it in turns to lead, and learned a lot from each other as well as the instructor. I think for some riders who are already quite advanced, this would have been rather basic, but I improved a lot during the weekend, particularly my overtaking.
More recently, when returning after my big motorway smash, I had a day of one-to-one tuition with an ex police instructor. I opted for one-to-one because my confidence was just too low to ride with others, and because I didn't want to waste time concentrating on things I could already do quite well. First of all we discussed what I wanted out of the day. Then we set off for an observed ride, during which I was allowed to set the route, and no instruction was given. Eventually we stopped, and the instructor identified the main areas for improvement, and also those areas I was doing well. The bike-to-bike radio was then switched on, and we commenced instruction, with me in front, and the instructor encouraging me from behind.
I found it particularly good to have immediate feedback about my performance, particularly when I had done something right. On previous courses, without the benefit of radio, you seemed to get more criticism than praise. Here, for example, I was praised for having my use of vanishing points/converging verges completely spot on - nobody had ever told me this before so I thought I must be doing it wrong. But my overtaking was not good, nor my ability to ride roundabouts quickly, so we worked on that, and use of other clues to allow me to speed up. At the beginning, I was only seeing things in the distance when he pointed them out to me, but eventually I was seeing them just before he told me about them in the headset! I was also getting into position just before he told me to, so it was obviously working.
After lunch, I did some following of the instructor. He would get a little way ahead, then make me chase him through bends, encouraging me to get a little quicker. I was determined not to let him get away, and suddenly realized I was following his GSXR750 that was well cranked over, really fast and smoothly through bends. My braking, confidence, use of throttle and smoothness of riding had all improved.
We then moved on to a car park, where he went over U-turns again after I swore I couldn't do them (I did four straight off without error), and then he tried to get me to stop using the rear brake, about which I was less sure. I didn't think he realized quite how weak and also short, my left leg now is, but I managed a couple of stops OK. I still prefer the right foot on the floor when I stop!
We then rode round hundreds of roundabouts outside Tamworth, the town of roundabouts, and I got much better at this. Then we stopped for a quick McDonalds, followed by another observed ride home, this time without any instruction. I was quite amazed when, as a former IAM and RoSPA examiner, he told me had this been a test, he would have passed me with no problem!
I'd rate this the best of the three types of advanced tuition I've done. First of all, because you could trust the instructor implicitly, and having built that trust, you would then follow his instruction and/or his lead until you found yourself doing things you would never have done before. He also knew just how to build confidence, and I'm pretty sure he would recognise and deal with over-confidence just as well. I will almost certainly go back for some more tuition, probably with some mates, later in the year.
Finally, I wouldn't rule out a track day as a source of useful training. People argue over the relevance to road riding, but it certainly allows you to find out just how much your bike will do in a relatively safe environment, devoid of cars, pedestrians, tractors, diesel patches, horse poo and of course, policemen with nice little radar guns. So next time you go into a bend a little bit hot, you will realise that your bike has the capability to get you through it, provided you have the bottle to keep on the throttle.
In case you were wondering if we were unique, I received this account of a club for biking dentists in the Netherlands.
Tom Zwebe explains all
Way back in 1984 I passed my motorcycle test and was so happy that I took off for Paris one day, I had never been further than 25 KM before, so it was Adventure to me. A few weeks later I told about my Spectacular Trip to some other dentists during an social evening in a local bar. And suddenly somebody said: Lets start a Motorcycle Club for dentists. That evening the AIRMOTORS were born. (My dental nurse found the name)
Next year we set off for Paris again with the whole club; 3 persons (2 dentists and an orthodontist). The year after that we added an oral surgeon and some more dentists some with there wifes, 11 persons altogeteher. From that moment on the club grew steadily to 60 of which are 19 women, all dentists, oral surgeons and orthodontists with or without partners. We visited all kinds of places in a circle of 400 to 500 KM around Oss our home base: London, Paris, Edinburgh, St.Die, Kiel etc.etc. Since about 10 years we have 3 yearly events, we start off in april with a weekend in the North of Holland, in june we go from thursday evening to sunday to someplace in the surrounding countries and in the end end of october we have another weekend at a campsite that is only for bikers.
All events take place on campings in all kinds of weather, hot or freezing, dry or wet, it does not matter.
One day I suggested to book a hotel for the club and that nearly ended it all, several members threathened to leave the club if that was mentioned once again: Camping or nothing, and so it has been camping ever since.
The only things we really want are a restaurant and a bar at walking distance. Owners of bars and restaurants are very keen because 60 thirsty dentists can spent a lot of money on food and drinks in a weekend, so we have made friends over a good part of Europe.
In all these years, we only had 2 accidents with body-damage, 1 broken leg in a traffic accident and 1 broken shoulder on a oil patch near Scotch-Corner on the way to Edinburgh (rain). The rest was sliding with no serious stuff but hurt ego’s, or imbeciles like myself that dropped the bike when standing still. It happens to all of us
Some weeks ago I was playing with the thought of a European meeting of Dental Bikers and I sent E-mails and faxes to all European dental associations (thanks to the Internet) to find out if there are any more Dental Motorclubs. Up to now there are none, so we proudly can say:" The Most Exclusive Motor Club in the World", we even have T-shirts with that printed on it! But via-via I came in contact with you Quick Quacks and thought it also would be nice to organise a Medical Motor Meeting (3M sponsoring??), call it a congress and it is tax deductable. I know of two other medical motorclubs in Holland, called the "Motor Docs" and the "Health Angels" , there also is a similar club in Germany. (they even call each other Herr Doctor at the bar). These clubs are open to Dentists, Doctors and Veterinarians. I am sure there must be more clubs like this in Europe.
Maybe some day we will meet, see you then!!
Fax: +31 412 652960
|April 30-May 2nd||World Superbikes, Donington|
|May 3rd||World Endurance Championship, Donington|
|May 29-31st||British Superbikes, Donington|
|June 5-11th||Isle of Man TT|
|June 18-20th||British Superbikes, Silverstone|
|July 2-4th||British GP, Donington|
|July 16-18th||British Superbikes, Oulton Park|
|July 30th-August 1st||World Superbikes, Brands Hatch|
|August 6-8th||British Superbikes, Knockhill|
|August 13-15th||British Superbikes, Mallory Park|
|August 28-30th||British Superbikes, Cadwell Park|
|August 28th-Sept 3rd||Manx GP|
|September 17-19th||British Superbikes, Brands Hatch|
|September 24-26th||British Superbikes, Donington|
Motorcycle Shows and Rallies
|May 21-23rd||BMF Memba Rally and BMF Show Peterborough|
|June 20th||Garden of England MC Show, Kent|
|September 18-19th||BMF Tail End Rally, Peterborough|
|September 26th||Rossendale Valley MC Show|
|October 10th||Great Northern Bike Show, Croft Circuit|
|November 6-14th||International MC Show, NEC Birmingham|