Travelogue of IAM RoadSmart Motorcyclist Jim Merryfield

Blog post posted on 29/07/21 |
Members Submission

1998 was the first time I sat on a motorbike on my parents drive at the age of 4. I wasn’t to know it would be driving factor in how I shaped the next stages of my life. It wasn’t an immediate road to my full licence but after a few motorcross trails when travelling in Australia, the seed was replanted.

Fast forward to the summer of 2019, I passed my full licence the Christmas before and I rode a Honda Hornet for 6 months. For the past 5 years I was working in Bristol for a large corporate recruitment firm and I was in need of some soul-searching. My motorcycle licence was the answer and I was going to make the most of it. I left the job and planned a rough route through France, Spain and Portugal, to take on the challenge of Iberia by Bike: Work Desk to Wild Camp.

Untitled design (8)

I have my dad to thank for the introduction to IAM RoadSmart and Somerset Advanced Motorcyclists (SAM). He’d been urging me to complete the course since passing my test, as he knew the value of it first-hand, being a member and a Blood Biker volunteer each week. Initially reluctant as I thought I could ride, like any 25-year-old upon passing their test, I visited an open session and signed up for the course (mainly because dad offered to pay).

I wasn’t to know how valuable it would be. My observer, Andy Spiers, was brilliant. I headed to the first session on my new Honda Shadow VT750 having been sold the reliable shiny chrome dream from the sales garage. I stopped to get fuel on route. First lesson learnt on my advanced course - don’t put diesel in your motorbike.

The main areas that have benefited me are the safety, knowledge of the bike and rider, what to check for ahead of each ride and the processing of information for hazards. This helped exponentially for my two-month trip around Iberia as I was on the other side of the road, riding an unfamiliar motorbike and wild camping in a tent. Was the Honda Shadow the best choice? Probably not, but it worked.

Another key area is that we’re constantly learning and developing to be better riders and this is invaluable to know for riders around my age. I’m the first rider in my group of friends. Unfortunately, the potential people that were due to apply have had their process halted due to personal situations during the pandemic. I believe this will be the case for many young riders across the UK. As a result, I use my social media accounts @amerryrideround not only to promote my travels and book, but to target UK based motorist followers to consider undergoing an IAM RoadSmart course.

Iberia by Bike is a non-fiction travelogue from Work Desk to Wild Camp that follows my two- month journey through France, Spain and Portugal on a motorbike.

I wrote the book as I noticed a large number of people like myself fall into rut of being a slave to the system to support a lifestyle that doesn’t always hold the happiness and meaning that is achievable. My hope is to show young people that it doesn’t have to be that way. The freedom of the open road through southwest Europe was my journey. People can find their own happiness and meaning with a nudge. It is achievable. In addition, I go into detail about the route travelled with recommendations of different roads and places to visit along the way.


Roughly 6200 miles travelled

65 days

1 water damaged passport and 1 lost set of keys