This is the 4th and last article in a series about challenges and experiences to do alone or with other riders. In this set, only one challenge can be done on the “spur of the moment”, number 40. All the others will require some arranging, thought or planning. Number 31 definitely needs someone else to be involved. These continue the trend of being a bit more challenging from the 30 challenges in the first three articles.
As before, you can complete some as stand-alone experiences or combined in one ride, maybe even including a challenge from the earlier 30 experiences.
Every LAM member will have ridden with another rider even if only during an Observed Ride. Indeed, some Associates may have ridden with an Observer and another Associate so this definitely makes it a group ride. However, what we are talking about here as a group ride is a ride with three or more riders riding together over a longer distance where not everyone may know the route but being able to ride together as a team. Normally one rider, the leader, knows or has an idea of where they’re going and the other two riders follow. As numbers in the group increase some level of organisation for the ride is necessary. This “organisation” or process enables the group to ride safely, systematically, smoothly and speedily to their destination.
Whilst the basics of the “follow on” or “drop off” systems are easily understood, Group Rider Training looks deeper into the process to enable riders to have more fun, more safety and more effective journeys. This is especially when you include long distances and motorways. A well organised and effective group ride is enjoyable and completing Group Rider Training is the building block to leading your own rides or acting as “Tail End Charlie” to new or favourite places. The training is a whole day and will include some classroom stuff but mostly it’s about two rides on varying roads to practice the skills needed to be a part of an efficient group ride. Riders that have never been on a group ride or have experienced rides where the group has different aims, expectations and levels of skill will find that GRT’s common approach provides certainty and removes that feeling of being out of your depth. It is hoped that a GRT session will be held later this year.
This is a ride not to be undertaken lightly. For this ride you must be ride fit and able to concentrate for long periods of time. Even if you did the whole trip on motorways, in the night or very early morning in the summer this ride will take over 6 hours on the bike. However, the point of the ride is not just to do the mileage but enjoy it, explore new roads, practice and embed your Advanced Riding skills and do it safely. This is the kind of ride where it’s important before you start out that you are at the Advanced Rider stage of rarely, if ever, having “moments” on your bike. Find a day when the weather will be kind; not too hot or cold and little or no rain forecast. Look at the forecast and head in the direction that will afford “kind” weather. During the ride, drink plenty and avoid heavy meals. Have a series of good nights sleep leading up to the ride. Don’t be under time pressure either during the ride or to finish the ride. Maybe use motorways to get away from the London area and to get you back home, then look for decent and interesting A and B roads for the bulk of the miles. As suggested in the 300-mile challenge, a 10 minute “power nap” may help on a bench somewhere with the bike parked up nearby. If any kind of tiredness or loss of concentration occurs, stop ASAP to stretch your legs and reinvigorate. If the weather turns bad, tiredness sets in or you’re just not enjoying it, call a stop and head home. This is a ride to enjoy. It could also be an outward or return leg as part of a longer trip.
England has many Motorcycle Museums. These collections have hundreds of bikes all with provenance or a story to tell. Some may be prototypes which just didn’t work out. Other bikes may have been owned by famous racers, have won races or the only one of a kind in existence. Often the engine’s technology was in advance of its time or maybe the result of a pipe dream. My favourite museum is Sammy Miller’s in Hampshire. All of the bikes have been restored by him and you’ll often see him in a workshop working on the restoration of a newly acquired bike. The ride itself of around 120 miles each way is pleasant and can be done using some interesting roads but ensure you allow plenty of time to enjoy the bikes at the museum.
The National Motorcycle Museum, near Birmingham’s NEC, has its own history having suffered from a fire during 2003 damaging some exhibits.
Of course, for those looking for a longer trip there is the Museo Ducati, Bologna, Italy and a BMW museum in Munich, Germany.
Some time ago, my wife was away for a weekend. With not much happening and a reasonable forecast I decided to gather my old camping gear together from the loft and head north. That was pretty much the limit of planning. I’d camped as a child and in the scouts so I had the basics. I had no real idea where I’d camp and fortunately having left after work on a Friday evening, I found somewhere to pitch my tent, cook some pasta with a jar of sauce and sleep the sleep of the righteous. Over the years my gear and packing has been refined but I still use the same £25 tent. What hasn’t changed is my lack of any real plan other than to reserve a few days, then check the weather forecast in the days leading up to the trip to choose which direction to head towards. Those first two nights, 11 years ago, I got to the Scottish Borders. Since then, I’ve been twice to Wales, Lands’ End, again to Scotland (John O’Groats), York Moors and Exmoor and also some shorter trips. Last year there was a series of forum posts about someone deciding to go on a camping trip where equipment, tips and ideas were discussed. If you fancy a period on your own, doing what your like, when you wish then I would advocate this challenge to give yourself some “mind space”. Post a question on the forum for ideas and information.
Not an experience for this year but Covid allowing, I’m sure LAM will try and run this favourite event next year. Th Ring trip has been running since around the first years of this millennium. In the last decade or so it has been a biennial event attracting around forty riders for the five day trip. It is a great trip for a first-time foray abroad, as riders make the journey there in groups. So, first timers going abroad will have experienced riders with them to lead them over to Germany and who also know the ropes for either the Eurotunnel or a ferry crossing, the need to ride on the wrong side of the road where differences in signage and the law exist. This trip includes a stay in a hotel with get togethers in the evenings, rides during the day and normally a visit to the famous Nordschleife. This is the famous race track connected to the Grand Prix Circuit. The Ring is a 12 mile circuit and you pay to go around it like a toll road. But, a toll road with a difference: there’s no speed limit and when you go through the barrier your insurance is void for those 12 miles. This is a great trip as the roads in the Eiffel region of Germany are fantastic with beautiful views, great surfaces and interesting places to visit. Expect to do in the region of 1400 miles during the trip. The ride each way is approximately 380 miles and groups chose either a cross country route through France or a motorway route through Belgium. Don’t miss this great trip.
So, you’ve passed your Advanced Test but when was that? Over time we naturally start to cut corners and those skills that we learned to enable us to pass our test as time goes by, get pushed into the background. We may start to “comfort” brake in corners, the ability to stick to speed limits may have caught us out with the odd speeding ticket. Slow speed control may have deteriorated so that a U-turn is not so easy and we avoid doing them. Have we started using our gears to slow rather than our brakes? Do we “swan-neck” our overtakes rather than those perfect 3 stage overtakes. Are we lazy with our positioning? Do we ride with our minds on other things?
Maybe it’s time to consider a Post Test Ride (PTR). Some chose to do a Masters; others take on Observing. In these cases, your ride since you passed your test will have been critiqued as part of that process. For those of us that haven’t chosen to take on one of these post-test activities can now request a PTR. This is a ride being reviewed by a Rider with experience to see if you remain safe and at the same standard when you took your test. You can book a PTR by emailing PTR@L-A-M.org The organiser will send a message out to the PTR assessors and you should get an invite to join one for a ride. Normal petrol costs for the Assessor apply.
The Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish Sea has been a haven for motorcycle racing events since 1907. Each year (under normal circumstances) there are several big race meetings each year. The races everyone is aware of are the IOM Tourist Trophy (TT) races and the renamed IOM Classic meeting. These races take place on the Mountain Course, a circuit of around 37 miles on roads normally used by buses, milkmen and for the school run. The roads are closed during the events, the racing is incredible and bikes start at intervals like in a time trial. The races can be for one or more laps and to win a TT is the pinnacle of racing expertise. Viewing is close-up and personal with bikes travelling at over a 100mph within a few feet of spectators. The TT races have the island full of spectators and visitor; the Classic meeting is less busy but still an amazing atmosphere. It’s possible to ride the course when it’s closed for “Mad Sunday” when anyone can ride the course, it’s one way only that day, but take care as some riders don’t have the skill they think they have. To watch is free other than at some special stands and places where they may charge a small fee to sit on a bale of hay. In between races the island has fantastic roads and interesting places to explore.
As a minimum the border between Scotland and England is 350 miles from London. On the fastest route this is over 6 hours of riding but it’s possible to ride to Scotland avoiding motorways but still using those faster but much more enjoyable A roads in 7 hours. With stops and refuels this is a long all-day ride, especially if you take the opportunity to enjoy some scenic stops along the way. An overnight stay is essential. Add an extra night and a foray into Scotland is possible on the middle day where you can soon be in stunning scenery. This distance is not a ride to be taken lightly and clothing and preparation will be necessary even if only to choose a suitable route, somewhere to stay and to do a thorough POWDERS check.
A challenge with a difference. LAM used to run a WWID ride every year with one of our longest running Observers, Andrew Craster organising and running the day. This idea was featured in the IAM magazine as a means for riders to think about riding with fuel economy at the heart. The aim of the event is to ride a prescribed course at test pace and to measure the amount of fuel used to provide your bike’s fuel consumption over the course. Naturally there are different classes for different bike powers.
The consumption is calculated and the bikes standing in its class will decide if a valuable trophy is awarded.
It’s possible this event may take place again in the future but if it doesn’t, you can do it yourself by following the process above. You may be surprised and it will make you think about riding smoothly, anticipating what’s ahead and doing some arithmetic!
Every year LAM’s Chairman chooses a Charity that the group will support. Known as the Chair’s Charity, money raised can make a difference to a charity’s ability to run and provide support for those in need. Also, in the past the annual Toy Run took place where LAM would gather and ride to a Children’s Home in support of making the kids’ Christmas a bit special.LAM has provided much needed funds to Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance.
However, you may choose to help a Charity close to your heart such as Médecins Sans Frontières who support medics on small motorcycles to get to “out of the way” villages in Africa.
Many charities have struggled this year with donations reduced due to lack of fund-raising opportunities, so you can complete one of the 40 challenges by making a bike related donation without leaving the comfort of your home.
I hope you will take on some of these 40 challenges as a means to increase the enjoyment of your motorcycling. This list isn’t exhaustive and you can easily add more. Don’t forget to tell us about your adventures on LAM’s Forum.
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