‘Tis now September and the days are shortening, we start to think about the end of the “biking season” and we think back over the past year, or rather the past 9 months and we ask ourselves, have I made any improvement to my riding this year? Well, I hope the answer is yes, especially Associates and hopefully Full Members have also made headway into improving their ride, either by keeping up their skills or even further training.
So you pass your IAM test, and you are ready to enter the world as a fully-fledged advanced rider right? Well, yes BUT no; hopefully, you realise you are just at the beginning of the journey to become a more competent, safer rider, so how can you get better?
Good question; and there are several options out there and perhaps a single option isn’t the answer for you; Often the best fighters are mixed martial arts fighters, the best architects are those that draw inspiration from all forms of culture, art, structural design and nature, they design complex but beautiful buildings that provide a solid base (as a building) but also use clever tricks to create space and light.
Ultimately the fighter will use several fighting techniques to become the best, they will adapt their strategies each bout and recognise that a classic left, right upper cut whilst perfect for 99.9% of the time, for the 0.01% they need to pull out the crane kick from the toolbox.
Likewise, an advancing rider takes the core of IPSGA, but can take the benefits of further training such as MASTERs, Rapid, California Race School etc. to enhance the core learning and allow for a few more techniques that you can call upon when experience (our best learning tool) suggests that your standard reaction to the Nissan Micra pulling out in front of you is not going to work.
These techniques can be as simple as increasing vision beyond the distances you currently use, or if anyone has done one of the excellent IAM Skills days, not grabbing the brake, but braking with a firm pull on the lever to create the disc/ pad bite and then following up with an increasing pressure to ensure maximum brake efficiency on a compliant bike that is handling all the forces being introduced into by the need to brake, rather than a sharply loaded braking bike which because of physics is trying to do several things at once.
The test is just the start; please don’t let it be the end; watch YouTube, talk to other riders, other Lamkins, chat on the forum, read the materials on the IAM website, and if you can afford it buy some on-bike training. Off-road skills such as braking and sliding in the mud can easily be transferred onto the road, doing it several times in a Welsh field gives you the confidence that should you experience a slide on the road you can apply the same method and not panic, and move through.
Hopefully, we never stop learning and remain open to new things, new concepts, technologies and philosophies, I know that my GS is a far better bike to ride than my 900 Fireblade of 30 years ago, the physics remains the same, but the technology available now allows me change gear seamlessly without using the clutch, and we are just at the beginning of better bike technologies.
Don’t forget there are PTR rides, Post Test Rides available to all full members to have what is akin to an OR for a full member to ensure their skills are kept to the high standard the IAM expects.
In a couple of weeks, we will have the Wales Residential Training weekend, which is hugely popular, by now all the places would have been sold out, but if you are kicking yourself that you wanted to go but didn’t book for some reason or other, make enquiries with LAM’s Secretary and see if there is a last minute drop out. This training weekend really is a last push for those that are almost at test level to push them over the line and take their test upon returning from Wales.
Happy and safe riding
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