Now I’m sure that I said somwhere in these ramblings that I wasn’t getting back into biking to recapture any notional lost youth — I ‘m well rid of most of that part of my life. Bikes are about the now and the appreciation of the performance that the finest modern engineering can deliver. No intention of staggering around the countryside on any under-tyred, flexi-framed nostalgia special. Absolutely not. Right?
So I passed my Advanced Motorcycling Test. Just what does that really mean? Not a lot, really — I’d regard the IAM test as the minimum starting point for being able to demonstrate control of a motor vehicle in good conditions with a favourable wind. Where then do I go from here?
In my earlier biking incarnation, I’d been an instructor with the old RAC/ACU training scheme in Edinburgh and later with Cambridge’s CAMrider Rider training scheme. That was around the time that compulsory basic training (CBT) came along and moved the whole teaching thing onto a professional basis, thereby rather taking the fun out of it for us enthusiastic amateurs.
What we have now of course is organisations like the WVAM, where enthusiasts give their time to help train people up to and beyond the Advanced Test standard. I like the idea of doing that — of keeping the cycle of learning going and having a good time with people whose riding you can trust — that and going ballistic down a wide assortment of twisty country roads.
So I put myself down for assessment as a candidate for Group Observer training with WVAM. Which is how I came to be standing in Box Hill car park at some ungodly hour last Saturday morning, stuffing coffee and a Ryka’s bacon butty into my face while our little company of five assembled — three potential trainees and two of the groups most experienced Observers. This was a 3-4 hour assessment ride, to work out if each of us was up to the required standard to go into Observer training. Rather than a prescriptive ride to arbitrary road rules,it was to be all about how we did (or didn’t) demonstrate the hallowed combination of Progress with Restraint — making the first while demonstrating the second.