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Insight: The Road to a F1rst

Aug 31, 2017, 12:47 PM by Bill Cooper
Biker on a wooded lane

On Thursday 10th August I passed my IAM RoadSmart advanced motorcycle test with a First. My advanced qualification journey began in Shrewsbury Town Square one Saturday afternoon back in April. My family and I had gone to Shrewsbury that day, specifically to find out how we could volunteer for the Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire Blood Bikes (SSBB) charity. I spent a good 45 minutes, or more, talking to Dave Duggan and Steve Clarke whose enthusiasm for everything SSBB and IAM was infectious.

Dave had said during the conversation that I needed to hold an advanced qualification to be a blood bike rider, and he kindly gave me the details of who to contact in both organisations.

In early May I signed up for my IAM advanced rider course and was soon an “associate” with a membership number and everything! Now, if I’m honest, I passed my motorcycle test some 30 odd years ago and have never had any formal tuition so, to say that I was both excited and nervous in equal measures was an understatement, especially when you think that your riding style and competency are going to be subject to scrutiny. So, it was with some trepidation that I rocked up for my first group observed session where Les Slow was allocated as my observer.

Well, what can I say about Les, other than he is a very knowledgeable, personable and all round top bloke. He immediately put me at my ease, especially as I didn’t have a clue where we were going as we set off on that first ride (Sleap Airfield, I know I’d never heard of it either and I live in Shropshire)! Over the next nine weeks or so, Les took me on some fantastic roads and after a 50/60 minute ride we’d always end up at a coffee shop for coffee/cake and a de-brief. My fear about my riding being overtly scrutinised, or worse still criticised, couldn’t have been further from the truth. Yes, Les identified areas where I could improve and to be honest, I embraced every one of his suggestions which resulted in increased confidence and riding skill.

What I got from Les and the IAM course was a noticeable improvement in my smoothness, safety, observational skills and rate of progress, as well as greater enjoyment and confidence in my motorcycle riding. I’m extremely grateful to Les for fine tuning my skills to become a better motorcycle rider, which in turn, has opened the door to allow me to become a blood biker.

Inevitably, the best form of advertising for any product or service is through personal recommendations and word of mouth. So, what I would say to anyone considering the IAM Advance Course is… absolutely, go for it, as it will be one of the best motorcycle accessories you ever buy, and has the added advantage of lasting a lifetime. So, as long as you go into it with your eyes wide open and be prepared to embrace the concept that we can always learn or improve then you will definitely come out the other side a much more confident, safer, thinking rider.