Wednesday, 9 March 2016

5th observed ride - 08.03.16

So between my session with Philip McDaid and ride #5 with Geoff James, a few events took place. Have had a full programme at work, what with finishing off the training of a new driver and some new equipment intro. We'd also bought a house and moved south of the Bombay hill, and to top it off my dad had a heart attack. So apart from a busy start to the year, the past few weeks have been rather full on, and since I no longer commute by motorcycle, very little riding was done. What I had been working on, was reading the IAM book in short bursts, along with continuing to work on commentary. It's annoying me that giving commentary, in a succinct fashion whilst riding to a high standard, is proving to be such a hurdle for me. Not beating myself up here, just expecting myself to progress faster than I have to date.

But let's get to ride #5 shall we? Meeting point as per usual, BP at Bombay. Had quite a chat with Geoff about various goings on, spent some time revering the experience of riding with Philip. It's one of those things that's hard to quantify/describe in words, the most apt way to put it would be awe-inspiring. Good to hear from Geoff it's quite a common occurrence. Striking as well is how humble Philip actually is, combine this with his abilities and it's easy to see how he's such an asset to IAM as a whole.

So from BP Bombay Geoff and myself headed off, mixture of country roads, bit of motorway work, some busy urban/industrial roads and finishing up at one of Geoffs' favoured debrief locations, a little café in Clevedon. No missed life savers this time, still one or two dabs of the brake which could have been avoided with more finesse. Main hurdle is still the delivery of commentary. Philip made mention of focusing on observational links, which JK also delved into in his blog, and whilst this is supremely easy in theory I'm sorely lacking in the practise thereof. As I indicated in my first paragraph, no commuting by bike along with a full on start to the year...and my calendar has been a bit devoid of serious bike time. And therein lies a bit of my problem, just not getting out and about often enough.

One thing I'll touch on once more is how my mental approach to riding/driving is evolving. The exposure to various safe/defensive/advanced training courses I've done has been good and bad. The different focus along with varying terminology for the same thing, has (and still is at times) been confusing for me. So I can see myself casting aside my past training to adopt the IAM system, but suit it to the vehicle I'm operating at the time.

Let's use one example. In the SAFED training system, which is sponsored or run by NZTA, one aspect is called "lane of least resistance" and applied in a rigid fashion would see me duck and dive across motorway lanes to suit the ebb and flow of traffic. On a bike that would work for sure, but when I share that most of my time is spent trucking along with a 23 metre long 50 tonne fuel rig, this lane of least resistance thought becomes ludicrous to say the least. It also goes patently against what we were taught in the Smiths driving system, which encouraged early lane selection and minimising lane changes as each lane change in itself is a hazard. I know I sound like a dinosaur when I suggest experience is also a good teacher, and using the above example of trucking along I'd prefer to take the minimal lane change approach thank you very much!

The surprising thing was that Geoff rated ride #5 as an A, which isn't what I was expecting. Then again, Philip commented about how when one is getting frustrated with oneself about not making progress that one is approaching the point where it all "clicks" so to speak. Mmmm, must be getting there then...

One wry observation I made a while back to Geoff, about my fuel consumption getting a little worse now that I'm doing the IAM thing. He just grinned and said it's a common observation, more use of revs equals more fuel burn. In all fairness though, riding my bike the way I'm doing now just feels more relaxed and enjoyable, not to mention I feel more in control...

Not much left to add, lots of sorting out of "stuff" to do at the new house still of course. But must make more time to practice and polish my two wheeled skills!!


  1. Rob,
    You may not realise it but your post holds some gems that are indicators of real progress! Expecting more progress than you think you're making is perfectly explained by Philip's comments. I can assure you that you had to earn the "A" ride! The reason you feel more relaxed, in control and enjoying the ride is because you are! That's a tell-tale sign of a high standard of riding and the increased amount of information you're processing to achieve that. In other words, you're exercising increasing control over your environment. Well done that man!!

  2. Thanks for your words of encouragement Geoff!

    One of the telling aspects for me is how there's fewer corners that create a sense of "unease" than before joining IAM. One particular corner south of Hunua, which has a bit of off camber about it, short sightline along with a crumbling left edge and some tar bleed, not to mention having encountered a car over the centreline in the wet on this one...has gone from having pucker factor 8 down to maybe 2. Or as an example, when we came down Twilight Road on Tuesday and encountered two trucks, both trucks needing to step over the centreline momentarily, and yet because we had our bikes in the extreme position it was no fuss at all. Which is how is should be all along.