When two became three

Blog post posted on 03/04/23 |
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By Bob Griffin from Cornwall Advanced Motorcyclists (CAM)

Bob GriffinIt was a shock when I retired to Cornwall aged 60 and finding out that my 45 years riding in and around London had in no way prepared me for life on two wheels in rural Cornwall.

It felt dangerous and I did not know how to solve it. Stopping riding was not an option (this is a recurring feeling as we will see) so what do I do?

I had been on the Bike Safe course with the Met Police in London and remembered someone making a comment about taking IAM RoadSmart’s Advanced Riding course. So, I found Cornwall Advanced Motorcyclist (CAM) and signed myself up.

My observer, who hadn’t been born when I started riding, proved to be patient and knowledgeable, and after 6 months I took and passed IAM RoadSmart’s Advanced Riding course. I soon found myself part of a community of likeminded riders and enjoyed the benefits of a great club. This included road trips at home and abroad, regular ride outs, a great social life, and 12 years as the club Treasurer. But the story does not end there.

Bob GriffinIt was March 2022, just after my 75th birthday, that after a ride out I came home, parked the bike, and told my wife Chris that I will never ride my bike again. My left hip had worn out (I am on the list for a new one) and the lack of reliability when putting the leg down, and pain from the angle it sits at on a solo bike meant Rosie, my bike, had to go. The thought of not riding again wasn’t ever going to sit right, so I had to think of a way round the issue. A third wheel seemed to be the way to go and there were three choices. Two wheels at the front, that was too car like. A sidecar, I had been there and did not want to go there again. And finally, a trike.

I knew nothing about trikes so I dived straight into a whole new world to see what would be best suited to my needs. I quickly learnt there are very good trikes and very bad trikes and all sorts in between, they range from professional builders to those built in the shed. The owner and builder of Rhino trikes in Somerset kindly allowed me access to his small factory and let me try his beautiful trikes for size. I now knew what I needed; a feet forward trike that would see me continue riding.

Bob's New TrikeShortly after this a rather unusual trike became available on the Isle of Wight, a 20-year-old Suzuki Burgman with an American motor trike conversion. The deal was struck, and I went to pick it up and ride Suzie back to Cornwall.

I was so ill prepared for this; it was nothing like I had expected, and the ride home was a little slow and cautious to say the least. 2,000 miles later with the help of the system and advice from experienced trike riders, I had this strange of a vehicle under control. The idea occurred to me that IAM RoadSmart’s Masters course I had started as a solo rider, with the help of the senior training support at CAM’s, Tim Collins, could be adapted to a trike. I discussed this with Shaun Cronin, Regional Service Delivery Manager at IAM RoadSmart, who said I should give it a go. I learnt that no one has done the course on a trike before so it would be a first.

I stumped up my money, then I was allocated a mentor called Mark Tucker, and we started a journey to try to understand what a Masters trike ride might look like. It was a steep learning curve with many ups and downs, but we honed the ride until eventually Mark said I was ready for my test.

Almost a year to the day that I gave up solos, I met Shaun and took the test passing with a distinction. This success owes much to Tim and Mark, it was a real team effort.

CAM have given me back my riding life twice now and extended my riding career by 18 years so far, I could not ask for more. The community at CAM and the wider IAM RoadSmart community continue to be a large part of my life and I am grateful for that.

Shaun Cronin, Regional Service Delivery Manager at IAM RoadSmart, said:

“When Bob and the team at CAM first asked me about someone taking their Masters course on a trike, I was quick to reply with my usual phrase, ‘it’s not what you ride, it’s how you ride it’.

“Both Bob and I were up for the challenge, especially when riding a trike requires a different technique in steering, road positioning and body position compared to a standard two-wheeler. We had a good discussion on the technique before we set off, and I was thrilled to see Bob taking it in his stride with some smooth brisk positivity in his riding - even riding over 50 miles of challenging Dorset roads.

“At the end of the ride, I was thrilled to tell Bob that he’d completed a good demonstration and I had no doubts that he has achieved a Masters distinction. This whole process has reaffirmed to me that it’s possible for anyone to achieve such high levels of driving and riding, and I’m so pleased it’s given back the spark Bob thought he might lose when he was faced with health challenges."