By Andrew Wiley
Andrew passed his test in the 70s and then later, got his motorcycle licence, “I started driving in 1977 and bought my first road legal motorbike, a Suzuki GT250A, very soon afterwards.”
His next step was joining the army, passing out in 1984 from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He served with the Army Air Corps for more than 30 years, flying Lynx helicopters, later working in procurement with a specialisation in guided weapons and helicopters, particularly the Apache Attack Helicopter.
After leaving the army in 2015, Andrew spent time working as a management consultant and is now the volunteer CEO of a Blood Bike charity in Somerset and Dorset that provides an emergency medical motorcycle courier service to the NHS.
He took a break from bikes when he became a father but jumped back in after his children had grown up. Andrew then became a member of IAM RoadSmart and joined the Wiltshire and Bath Advanced Motorcyclists group before moving on to the Dorchester and West Dorset Advanced Motorcyclists.
Andrew qualified as a Local Observer last year and as a National Observer in March this year and says he wished he had started his advanced training earlier.
“The opportunity to drive/ride with people who are much more skilled than me has been an absolute joy. As they say, every day is a school day and the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know.”
Has he noticed a substantial difference on the roads over the last few decades? Yes, says Andrew. “The changes to vehicles and driving during my over 50 plus years on the road are profound. Technology has moved on in a spectacular fashion.
The safety, handling and performance of vehicles has improved massively. Who would have thought in the 1970s that converting to electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles would be real? The roads are dramatically busier, and despite the environmental concerns, there seems to be no decrease in activity in sight. Unfortunately, the standard of driving has not kept pace and seems, if anything, to have declined.”
While reflecting on the past, Andrew says he would tell his younger self to take every opportunity to learn more about driving and riding.
“I have had so much fun learning new skills, whether it was playing in a skid pan, winter driving, riding bikes cross country. There is so much enjoyment to be had and I wish I had started on this training journey so much earlier. The opportunity to drive/ride with people who are much more skilled than me has been an absolute joy.”
To find out more about IAM RoadSmart’s Advanced courses, visit www.iamroadsmart.com/courses