Monday, 18 January 2016

2nd observed ride 10.01.16 (and subsequent practice runs)

The festive season and working a full roster put the kybosh on any serious practice leading up to my 2nd observed run. Not an excuse, as I'd been doing commentary to myself while trucking along. At times the Drivecam would go off whilst I was doing commentary, oh well, the reviewer of the footage must've just thought I was yapping to myself... The odd short ride (1 to 2 hours) I managed to sneak in, but no solid half day or more stuff, which in all honesty is how I prefer to do it.

But about my observed run. I got the basics of commentary more or less right, but the objective is more about what's of potential harm to me, almost as in a case of less is more. I was thinking too much still in terms of what was expected of us when I was doing the Smiths' driving system at work. Or maybe the trainer who taught the Smiths' system to us had an odd idea about it, for we were expected to pretty much briefly touch on damn near everything. Geoff once again referred me to JK's blog, which in itself is a tomb of info for a new associate like myself.

What slipped a little was head checks and keeping a good eye on my mirrors, then incorporating that mirror info. Again, JK's blog offers useful advice for building a routine that incorporates the various aspects. Simple stuff at times. Speed change coming up? Mirror check for the impatient or distracted driver behind and call out the new speed zone we're entering. Turning off up ahead? Head check, signal and turn. In basic terms, the more I ride, the more of this stuff should become part of my routine and thus the multitasking sense of at times having "too much stuff to do" will fade.

So the main objective for me from the observed run on 10.01.16 was to practice commentary (in a succinct fashion) to myself whilst maintaining my riding standard. Given that in due course I'll end up doing a roadcraft training day with Philip McDaid (Chief Examiner and of Riderskills fame) as well as the actual IAM advanced test, it made sense to venture out west this time.

Having gone out before the advancing storm may seem like an odd thing to do, well on purpose anyway. Meh, only did an hour or so in the start of the rain. Heading for home anyway, so not a biggie. Next day though, the sky started off blue and clear, so with the fabric gear still damp I climbed into my leather one piece and ventured out looking like a racer, yet going out to practice at legal speeds. The irony...

Here's another funny aside, well funny to me at least. When I learned to ride, on the trusty GN250 many moons ago, it was deemed a challenge to run the length of Scenic Drive without any "oh shit!!" moments. Three decades later, running along Scenic Drive on a Busa, it's damn near like driving a V8 touring car on a go-cart track. Lots of fun, but also filled with the potential for an off. The road was still littered in places with debris from the storm that passed thru the night before, and to top it off also copped a few showers. Just to keep those PR4s earning their keep I suppose... Strangely enough there was a brief oh shit moment when a car ducked out of a side road without even slowing down. Not sure whether the driver had a stop or a give way sign on their road...or in this case it might have read please yourself?

Anyway, purposely seeking out winding roads which I knew back at the start of my riding career sums it up. So here I am, practising IPSGA and SSV whilst doing commentary in brief 10-15 minute bursts. Stopping for the occasional photo opportunity, as you do, and after being out for about 6 hours I'd barely covered 300 clicks. Plus, in all honesty I was getting kind of fatigued. The previous weeks had been hectic, all full on at work, the family stuff over Xmas & New Years, Mums' birthday and the heat/humidity, all adding up to make me feel older than my age. Thoroughly enjoyable all the same, trundling around the back of Auckland Airport, over to Scenic Drive, Kumeu, Helensville, Kaukapakapa, up to Wellsford then return more or less via same route.

Did I accomplish improvements though? Well, I reckon progress was made. Self assessment is a tricky thing though, so I'll let Geoff decide.

To cap this off, learning is always best done in small steps. Yes it's been said before, and if nothing else I'm saying it to myself again here. Learn one thing properly before adding the next step. Oh, and keep re-reading JK's blog!


  1. Great stuff Rob! I rode the length of Scenic Drive with an Associate a few days ago. It's not only great for positioning and potential hazard identification but the number of posted speed changes are great for keeping the pressure on regarding information processing!

    Terrific writing - keep it up. More photos too please! :-)

  2. Yes sir, will start taking more pics and adding them on here to keep you happy...even if some or most of 'em will have been on FB one way or another.

    Thanks for the positive feedback though!!