To be honest, after my mock test I did go out a few times on my own to work on the areas that Charlie had said needed looking at. After discussion with Ian, we decided to go for a ride and then stop for a cuppa and a chat.
After our ride, Ian said he would put me in for my test. I was ready!
I had an email from IAM RoadSmart to say an examiner had been appointed. His name was Chris, and I would receive a telephone call from him. Sure enough, I got a call and after a brief chat, we set a date. Chris said he could do it the following afternoon so I said yes! I figured this way there would be less time for me to dwell on it and start stressing.
I printed off and completed my Documents Declaration that had come on the IAM email and put that in my bike jacket so I wouldn’t forget it.
I was meeting Chris at two o’clock. As the morning wore on, I could feel my nerves building. And by the time I met Chris, I was really nervous. I think it’s that word ‘test’. I am not good with that word. I was struggling to relax.
Chris also asked some general questions about my bike maintenance and the highway code.
Chris asked if I would be happy to use an intercom for him to give directions. Or if I would prefer to look for his signals and I said intercom. It was only a one-way intercom so there was no talkie-talkie whilst riding along (I should think Chris was grateful for that) and Chris only spoke to give directions.
Okay, we were on the bikes, ready and off we set. I could feel I wasn’t relaxed riding the bike. I just hoped it didn’t show through too much in my riding.
We grabbed a drink and sat down to have a chat. So it was a safe, mostly legal ride. I went over the speed limit on one occasion. I know, I was impressed myself at this that it was only just once!
We pulled out of a busy junction where you had to pull across to the central reservation and then pull out onto the other carriageway. I did this with no problem. I then increased my speed to 50 (which I thought it was) and soon came across the de-restricted sign. I then realised it was a forty. However, Chris was pleased that I knew where and when I had done this.
Chris said I had a good understanding and implementation of the IPSGA system. However, he would like to see me slow when I come down from a national speed limit to, say, a 40 limit in a different way. He would like me to use the brakes to slow down to 40 and then change down into the appropriate gear. Whereas at the moment, I roll off the throttle and come down through the gears on the approach to the 40 limits. So by the time I reach the limit I am at the correct speed.
Chris would also like to see me get up to the speed limit quicker when entering a national speed limit.
Thank you, Chris, I really appreciate you giving up your time so I could take my test.
But I passed. That was the main thing. A few things for me to work on but I think you can always improve on your riding. And be open to learning new things.
It has been really good to take a step back, look at my riding and see where I can make improvements to keep me as safe as possible. Always thinking about my bubble of safety.
My ride outs with my Observer, Ian, each week very quickly became a highlight of my week. I felt lucky to have such a great mentor and I feel my riding has improved over the duration of the course. The coffee and cake was just an added bonus but a great chance to sit down and have a relaxed chat about my riding and the course itself.
I would just like to say thank you to Ian for giving up his time to get me through the course. The IAM Observers are all volunteers and they give up their time for people like me and you so we can become better riders.
If you are thinking about signing up for an IAM course but are not sure, I can recommend doing a taster session with your local group so you can see for yourself what it is all about.
I, for one, am glad I did just that.