Sitting here looking out of the window at the snow this morning, thoughts of getting back on the trusty steed seem almost premature, yet here we are already pushing into March and it will indeed be only a short week or two away before the cover is taken off, the trickle charger unplugged and the all important pre-ride checks carried out before venturing out back onto the road again.
Now’s probably a good time just to remind ourselves to remember to take it all a little gently when getting back on the bike for the first time after an extended Winter break, as I don’t know about you, but I have always found the bike to feel a little ‘clunky and ungainly’ for the first 30/40 miles after a long lay-up (and yes, I can already hear a number of you telling me it’s a BMW and that’s just normal right?).
That having been said we also have ourselves to consider…how ‘rusty’ might we have become whilst driving around in the cosseting environment of the car, are we still looking for every pothole, change of road surface or camber and will we remember all of those blind-spot checks that we would normally recall as a matter of course?
Some of you may have been riding throughout the Winter anyway and as a Blood Biker I count myself amongst you, but even so I am mindful of the need for extra care whilst I acclimatise myself with my own bike again and get back up to speed, so to speak.
So let’s take a quick review of 2017 and a brief ‘look forward’ to what is on an action packed agenda for 2018.
There is no doubt that 2017 was an exceptional year for SAMM Bikes! Bike4Life kicked off the year with a ‘bang’ netting us so many new members that we started the year having to run a waiting list, as the sudden influx tested the observer team to the limit, with many observers running two or three associates each.
The following ‘Free Taster Day’ held jointly with RoSPA at Montford Bridge proved to be a resounding success also procurring a number of new members and introducing the benefits of ‘Advanced Riding’ to a number of bikers who might not have otherwise taken the step.
At this point I must take this opportunity to highlight the tremendous skill and dedication of the Bike Observer team. Not only was it the busiest year on record for SAMM, but it was also a year in which everyone fully embraced the new ‘IAM RoadSmart Standards’, with its structured ‘competency based’ system and all new paperwork, this was no mean feat given the pressure that the team was under and I thank each and every one of you on behalf of the many successful candidates that can now proudly call themselves ‘Advanced Riders’ as a result of your time and personal dedication. Our outstanding first time pass rate of over 95% is testament enough.
We are now in the enviable position of having 11x National Observers, 1x Local Observer, 4x Trainee Local Observers and 4x on our observer waiting list…and so we launch into 2018 in a very strong position, but with 6 associates already just awaiting the ‘Big Thaw’ and the recruitment events starting early this year…I predict another bumper year for the group.
So starting the year of course is our now annual outing to ‘Bike4Life’ at RAF Cosford. Many of our newer members might not realise that this event started a number of years ago as a small, locally organised bike safety event run out of Shrewsbury, with the proceeds going to The Midlands Air Ambulance (MAA).
The event was organised and run by PC Mick Sturland (Market Drayton), The Safer Road Partnership, Telford and Wrekin Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists IAM (in the days before the merger) and SAPAR - the local RoSPA group.
We used to attract upwards of 3000 bikers who would meet in Shrewsbury for a small bike show - then ride on down to RAF Cosford to deliver the monies collected in the buckets to MAA and to grab a coffee and burger, before all breaking up and going our separate ways.
All of those £5 bucket donations started to add-up and came to the attention of MAA’s management team, who then offered to host the event at RAF Cosford - and the rest is now history as they say.
Now one of the biggest events in the UK biking calendar, regularly attracting 10,000 + visitors and having the M54 closed for a full hour whilst some 3000+ bikes make the pilgrimage from Meole Brace Car Park in Shrewsbury to Cosford, with a host of celebrities leading the charge, whilst contributing a not inconsiderable £70k plus to the MAA piggy bank each year.
This year will be no different and the event is set for the 22nd April 2018…so only a short time away! We will again have our MDU on site this year and would welcome help from any of our members who might like to attend and have a fun day speaking to fellow bikers about the benefits of what we do. Please let either myself or Alex Lepic-Clark know if you at all able to help out on the day.
Whilst talking Events…I would like to use this piece to remind you that ALL events are now listed on our superb new SAMM Website, as well as dates for all group observed rides, social rides and other news. I am sure this will be covered elsewhere in this newsletter so won’t labour the point here, other than to say that this is a great new resource that should be your first point of reference and hopefully you will add this to your bookmarks and check-in on a regular basis.
As for Social rides - we have a full itinerary of thrilling rides to some great locations this year. We are yet to finalise some detail so do bear with us on this one, but the season kicks off with a ‘Tour of the Peak District’ led by myself and Alex Lepic-Clark on 8th April (only 4 weeks away). This will be a day spent travelling some of the best roads in the area with great views and the usual refreshment stops along the way. If you are on Facebook, please go to the SAMM Facebook page and register yourself if coming along as I need to know the numbers for the food booking.
As for new developments in the mix…we are looking at the possibility of providing Masters Mentoring in 2018 as there is a groundswell of interest from a recent membership poll, motorcycle skills days (dates TBA) and new initiatives that we have yet to firm up on. It is looking to be an exciting year!
And so on that note I will sign off until next time by wishing you all a fantastic 2018 biking year. I look forward to seeing many of you on the group observed rides (starting 7th April) and various social rides/events that we are holding this year..
Oh and last but certainly not least…this is YOUR group, so please don’t be shy and let me know if there is anything that you would like to see us do this year, as we are always open to ideas and feedback from you all.