My first memory of bikes is riding pillion on my much older brother's mobylette. I would have been 6 or 7. He used to drop me off at school in our village. I then rode a Gilera 350 trails type bike on our farm when I was 13 ish. This was a mode of transport for me at the time as we did live in the sticks. Sadly, the bike ran flawlessly despite the rough treatment it received so my mechanical skills are zero.
How long have you been an Observer?
Life got in the way so I stopped riding until 20 years ago. I trained with LAM in 2003. Once I passed the IAM test I became a regular on the excellent SSI rides for members. These are tremendous fun and a great way to continue learning and practicing advance riding. I have been observing for 3 years now.
What does LAM mean to you?
I am a strong believer that one never stops learning about advanced riding. Belonging to LAM provides me with the environment to continue learning and practice these skills and hopefully continue to improve. Being an observer enables me to give something back to the group and ensure I maintain a high level of personal awareness towards safe riding. More generally, I'd like to think I am giving something back to society by helping to improve rider safety. I find this rewarding.
What is your favourite route?
The one in front of me!
More seriously, the G219 in Tibet (so called China) from Khashgar to Chawuxiang, before it turns to the G318 to Lhasa. It has everything, from brilliant sweeping bends where the military road has been rebuilt to the most testing off-road track just after the inevitable landslides. Nearly three weeks of very tough riding but absolutely brilliant fun.
Closer to home, the A264 from East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells is a good fast road to practise.
What is your number one safety tip?
I ride a lot on the continent. I attach a small rag on the bars, on the side of the road I am meant to be riding on. It is amazing how, coming out of a hotel car park first thing in the morning with no one around, no road markings, etc, one can forget to be on the correct side of the road. We have all heard of serious accidents due to this. Touch wood, this prompt seems to work.
What is your number one tip for passing the test?
Once you start thinking about taking the test, make sure you do a 'check-test' with one of the National Observers. If they say you are ready, you are ready and you will be fine on the day.
Ensure you are able to use the language of the system to explain any riding action you take, e.g.: overtake, positioning on multiple bends. This means learning the theory which is all in the handbook.
What is your favourite piece of riding kit?
A buff. Keeps you warm in the winter by closing that gap between helmet and jacket. And in the summer, extremely good at keeping you cool when soaked in cold water.
What is your favourite bike?
I love them all. The GSA didn't even get a puncture during the 13,000 miles / 3 months ride to China and Thailand. I like the comfort and reliability.
I recently acquired a Himalayan which is extremely basic and underpowered. However, I find it great fun to be riding again 'back to basics' and it is proving to be very efficient on the TET.
What has been your best or funniest moment on a bike?
A group of 12 to 20 of us go riding mostly off-road somewhere far away every year. We have enjoyed some fantastic rides over the last 15 years. The best ride is always the next one; 2020 is the Pamir Highway on XR400s.
Ask me about …..
... bikes, if you want a laugh. I enjoy riding but I know nothing about bikes and even less about anything mechanical. Although I do know that I have never ridden a bike with more than two cylinders ...
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