Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Observer Test 18.01.17

Shortly before the Observer Test we managed to sneak one last training run in. Geoff James brought along Tony Knight on Saturday 07.01.17 which served dual purpose once more in that I hadn't yet met Tony. Always good to catch up with members from IAM in my home territory so to speak, this being Central North Island. So it was fun to test my Observer (in waiting) skills once more, with Geoff calmly and kindly offering guidance. Always pleasing to see newer IAM members taking to the Roadcraft system with enthusiasm, then I found out Tony's path to IAM was very similar to mine. We'd both done the Rideforever courses and then asked ourselves what next?

Ready for takeoff post ride.

                                                            Midway chat in Drury.

Seeing Tony scooting around in a confident manner on his Yamaha Tracer was a delight. Pretty damn good effort all round from Tony on this outing, and finding him having the same challenges as myself on the learning process to master some elements was humbling. I'd had the same issues, so then being able to share my own journey and how I overcame the little hurdles along the way was rather neat. The process of helping others master a set of skills brings a weird sense of satisfaction. I've had this for years at work, so I know the word passion isn't misplaced in this context, for I thoroughly enjoy enabling others to do well.

But let's move on to the big day. Wednesday January 18th. After revision of Roadcraft manual and Road Code in the weeks leading up to the Observer Test, I felt ready for this event. It's an odd emotion leading up to this, not nervous as such, but rather keen to do well. If you've been thru it, you'll know what I mean. If you haven't as yet, don't let it unsettle you. In the back of my mind I figured I'd done the homework, showed my hand with my Tutor Observer on enough occasions and was found ready.

So Philip McDaid had brought in Keith Bishop to be my Associate for this event. Again, I'd not met Keith yet, so this was a dual purpose event once more. The info gathering stage with Keith was quite straightforward in that he's been in IAM for a while, so I didn't need to start from scratch so to speak. Devised a route that covered motorway, urban and some open road stuff, then off we went. The directive was to keep the run at around the 45 minute mark, and with a bit of help towards the end from Philip in terms of adding a bit of twisty stuff, this route covered the variety I'd intended. Now of course a 45 minute run doesn't allow for much in-depth stuff but that's not what it's all about anyway.

Got Keith to give us a couple of short bursts of commentary, which confirmed that his grasp of Roadcraft is sound. All the while Philip just quietly trailing in behind, which shouldn't be unsettling as such, but it's a different feeling to having Geoff bringing up the rear if that makes sense. The overall ride and then debrief was low key, and even got some nice feedback from Keith in the sense he liked my calm manner and timely directions. Always nice to get confirmation that my intentions come across correctly, after all we're just going for a bike ride, no need to amp up the stress level is there?

Thankfully the way Philip viewed my interaction was favourable as well, and seeing I'd managed to score 95% on both theory tests, things were looking up! Annoying how both the questions I got wrong, were simple things which I'll now probably never forget!!

So then I had to prove my own Roadcraft was still up to par by being followed by Philip on a brief run.  There was only one item on this outing that elicited a question from Philip, around the back of Taupaki we came across a car moving along a little under the limit in a mildly hesitant fashion. From where I was, this was an opportunity for an overtake and so I'd assessed the situation swiftly and snuck past the car without delay or hesitation. Then I looked in the mirror and found Philip sitting back and behind the car as its driver now kept a fairly steady pace. Momentarily I was worried, but then I'd not gone over the local posted limit even during the overtake, so figured the car driver just picked up the pace slightly after my overtake.

Back at Philip's Riderskills base we briefly talked about speedo accuracy, explained how my bike is equipped with a Speedohealer and how 101 indicated is 100 actual (as verified by GPS) and the overtake in itself was given the okay.

Quite cool to receive the big tick from Philip at the end of this test, not really sure how to best describe this emotion, for it's more one of feeling quietly chuffed rather than some weird fist pump kind of sensation. In no uncertain terms, this is why I joined IAM, to perform the observer task. I'll be rather humble and admit that I've learned more than I'd anticipated from the outset, lots of subtle stuff really and not just riding. The way we're taught to elicit an improvement in someone's riding is in some ways superior to the coaching methods we've been taught at work in the driver coach courses. I've even used the "shit sandwich" type of approach at work, and whether it makes you laugh or not, but it works.

So onwards and upwards, I still reckon we never stop learning and while now an Observer with my own wings, to coin a cheesy cliché, now being in the position that I aimed for from the outset of this journey...feels rather satisfying!


  1. Rob, As I said yesterday, passing so well is a fitting reward for the huge effort that you've put in since joining IAM - absolutely chuffed for you. The beauty of it is that you win and everyone associated with you both now and into the future wins too.

    I had a quiet chuckle at your comment about Chief Examiner Philip following you - he still unsettles me when he's following too even though he's a lovely chap!

    Your other comment about feeling quietly chuffed is spot on! I think that the "no ego" ethos of IAM gives us that feeling as opposed to "ra-ra" elation. I used similar words when I passed. Very much looking forward to our on-going journey together!

  2. Thanks for all your time and effort Geoff, much appreciated. This type of thing is never a one way street, most definitely a collaborative effort. Trust we can start making more headway in growing CNI region, all the signs are good!