5 min read

Hello everyone and welcome to another Chair’s Chatter. This one has a little more LAM content than the previous lockdown issues.

From 12th April we opened the shop and have been flooded with Associates eager to book OR's. As of 30th April, we have already undertaken 16 OR's, which isn’t too bad at all considering, as I write this (3rd May 2021), still asked to stay local. However, this is also changing and we will run our first virtual Tatsfield on the 15th May.

A Virtual what you ask? We can't actually use Banstead Youth Club and Tatsfield Village Hall, which are the traditional homes of LAM. However, we still want to hold a training day, so Observers will sign up into tracker as usual and as soon as we have the numbers available, we will allocate as many Associates as possible (those who have OR's booked through the shop) to try and reduce the backlog. We still want to keep the 1:1 Observer:Associate ratio, as feedback from both Observers and Associates is this is preferred to doubling-up on OR's. 

We'll continue to use the shop as the primary way of booking an OR until we are given the all-clear by the IAM and HM Government.

COVID has not gone away and whilst there are now some genuine signs of recovery, the group is still not operating at full capacity and may not do so for some time - so please bear with us. We'll continue to hold online training sessions and I would like to thank Jane Harle and Simon Matthews for their excellent April Sunday morning discussions on Positive Steering and Hazard Management, which prompted some great post-presentation discussions.

Thanks also to Julian Clark who held a midweek session where he provided a frank and open retelling of his journey in a 'warts and all' story of how he went on to pass his Masters with Distinction. The Masters is, in IAM speak, “the highest civilian qualification available in advanced riding or driving available in the UK” and is available to Full Members who want to challenge themselves to provide a ride as close to perfection as possible (noting that there is never a perfect ride or drive).

Whilst I am biased (and trying not to come across all 45th President of the United States of America), having attended an IAM online session on communication last week, (which was very interesting and made me reflect on how I deliver my style of coaching as a LAM Observer), I think our Zooms are better! I thank everyone who has delivered them and those who continue to write content and take time to make them happen. We know Zooms, we have the best Zooms!

It’s hard to believe that as we sat down at the beginning of 2019 to agree to buy a projector to deliver content at group meetings, how useful that content would become and how it has formed a common focal point for the group during the lockdown and kept the interest bubbling enough to fill the shop with orders.

It's looking highly likely that we will be able to hold our annual Wales Training weekend which will be held over the weekend of the 24th-26th September at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells. You will enjoy three great days of riding in either glorious sunshine, stair rods of rain, sleet and fog or a mixture of all of these, but it’s worth it just for the ice cream on a beach in a force nine gale.

The Full Members weekend running shortly after this is already sold out, which I suspect is a mixture of people eager to get away but also an indication of how great the roads and routes in Wales are. If you're interested in going, enter your email and you'll be automatically notified should a place become available. It's then a race to get to the shop first and bag it before it goes. These weekends are fantastic and always sell like hot cakes!

We'll also try to run a non-residential, two day Associate training weekend in July which is traditionally referred to as the Kent Weekend. However, shock horror, it doesn’t have to be in Kent and you do not have to commit to the whole two days, although if you want to fast-track your journey to test, then it is advisable. The above can only happen if we continue our journey out of lockdown and will be subject to change based on advice from HM Government, NHS, IAM and LAM - but let us keep everything crossed.

Advanced riding is a skill that if practised correctly, will undoubtedly make you a better rider. I know for a fact that when I contrast pre-IAM Paul rider to post IAM test Paul rider, I am night and day between the two and each ride is a learning opportunity my journey is continuing with each ride I take. I hadn't ridden since November, with just a few forays for service and to pick up a new bike. I was woeful when I first went out in April and if I'm honest, I'm still not back to a state where I feel everything is flowing and that I'm switched back on or fully dialled-in.

Riding is one thing and I knew this would be rusty, but what I hadn't anticipated was how far my observer skills had slipped from not being used for almost a YEAR – yes a whole year!  I'm not ashamed to say that as honest as I always am, it has taken two or three rides to get back into the stride of things (sorry rides one and two – you know who you are).

The biggest shock for me was realising that I was talking, listening and talking, but not necessarily using the usual open questions effectively. Why was I doing this? Those who know me, know I love a good bit of self-analysis, and I genuinely believe that this is because all of the communication I have had in the last 14 months outside of my immediate family has been via a computer collaboration tool. I think we have all become Zoom Racers, eager to get our point across and not be talked over.

It reminded me a lot of when I first moved to London and commuted by bike and car, with my riding/driving become ‘Londonized’. I found myself hanging off the rear bumper of cars not letting anyone in or out. I have become a zoom warrior but in doing so, I had forgotten why non-verbal communication is so important!

Regular self-analysis is important, particularly as a motorcyclist where our actions may have such an immediate effect on our physical wellbeing. Why was that car so close? Was it me, was it them, am I tired, distracted, ill, was I too fast, did I read the corner right using the LPOV? Why did I nearly drop the bike when I pulled up at traffic lights? What’s happened between putting the bike away last night and riding to work this morning?

We never stop learning and it’s amazing how quickly we forget the knowledge we've gained, if we're not practising the skills regularly.

Enjoy the journey of emerging from lockdown and let's hope we see each other for real in the near future.

Stay safe,

Paul


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