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In some ways I am reluctant to write this as I am sure that some LAM members will challenge its accuracy on the basis that it never applies to them; but that said it applies to some members, and I would say more than we should be prepared to admit. On the other side, I have been 'encouraged' to put this together by other members who share similar views and concerns.

I joined LAM to support my Bloodriding and I thought I was a 'good' rider.. proven by thirty years accident free (!).  I now feel a much better rider, get more from riding, have friends to ride with and make more 'progress'.... I still make mistakes, but I know when I have made them.

My concerns focus on Full Members’ SSIs but equally apply when Associates are in the group. We have all spent time in various forms of training, in essence, to follow 'Roadcraft', learn to apply it and use the 4 S's . But I'm m sorry to observe that many of the 'rules' we should be following seem to be discarded as soon as we are 'passed' and are in each other's company.

It is fair to say that an Observer might struggle to recognise our 'trained' standard as compared with a group of friends out for a ride. Recently I rode ten miles behind a very competent rider across Salisbury plain but his mixture of riding styles, positioning and overtaking raised doubts. At a set of lights and hoping to encourage him to get training, I asked him if he was 'Advanced'...yes he was!

Sadly I fear the same judgements could be made about our riding. I have said to several Associates, that you should be able to recognise an Advanced Rider simply by their positioning. My biggest bug bears are about sloppy, indecisive middle of the road positioning. Can't the rider work out which position is safest?

On a recent ride we had to bunch up but the 'alternating' positioning was ineffective due to middle of the road riding. Not only did this prevent 'safe' bunching but strung out the line of bikes making it harder for other traffic waiting for us to pass.

It takes a little thought to pull away from a junction more slowly and build a gap to the bike in front, but without sensible spacing so many riders simply follow the bike in front around the corners ...no personal choice or assessment of their own 'line.'

On some rides it seems that several bikes are being towed, and might as well be for the riders perspective. Filtering varies between pointless and dangerous, especially when there's usually a junction involved and a drop off coming.

Overtaking....! For everyone I've seen done 'properly' I've seen far more rushed, close and basically risky, often reliant on the power of the bike with no margin for the unexpected.
Group riding is generally weak with poor bunching when it would be appropriate and poor use of parallel and alternate leaving of a junction.

I have been out with RoSPA recently and they are proud to wear jackets saying so, to be identified as such. I often thought we should have the same in the hope we encourage others to join us and emulate us but I would not advocate this for our rides; we are better saying hello when we are safely sat down at a cafe rather than on the road for others to judge.

I am guilty of many errors but could we all try to ride (and practise) according to the 4s and Roadcraft, ideally all the time but especially when we are riding together. I hope that no-one is offended by my comments, but I'm sure that if you are still reading this, none of this applies to you and it is the others who don't...

Feel free to respond, troll me, disband me, ignore me, send me to Coventry....I don't care...I only care that we all finish each ride safe and happy.

Derek Facey

PS. After many ORs while I struggled to get the elements to string together, an Observer gave me an illustration which put everything into context: Imagine your partner calls you, has driven off the road at a place and needs your help and the phone goes dead.
You choose to mobilise and are motivated to get there quickly, you will be no use to anyone unless you get there safely and could even cause a diversion of emergency services.

You need to ride up to corners, brake positively, choose the right line for maximum observation (allowing optimum speed) and when the POV opens up, accelerate positively, continuing to maximise POV and moderate speed accordingly.

 


3 Responses

Stuart Hinks
Stuart Hinks

December 13, 2021

Further to my last – Yesterday I rode with full members – led by Andrew Craster. The planning and delivery by Andrew was 100%, full briefing too.

I was pleased to note that for 90+% of the time all riders rode to the system, no dodgy overtakes or anything dangerous as such.

I noticed two ‘faults’ during the ride; On two occasions the Stop line was treated as a give way by two riders and again on two occasions two riders rode right handed with left hand on the hip or leg. I have no idea why.

Suggestion: If these observations at the end of a ride were published to all participants, maybe those who were concerned would recognise themselves and address the issue themselves? Avoiding directly upsetting people.

Thanks Andrew and your TEC.

Stuart Hinks
Stuart Hinks

December 13, 2021

I will be on my first members ride this Sunday; interesting that you brought up this topic as I had heard the same from an ‘ex LAM member/observer’.

Maybe we need some ‘constructive words’ at the end of a ride – but who by? I’m the newby – I’m all ears!

Thanks for the article, not the easiest to pen I suspect.

Huw Pritchard
Huw Pritchard

December 13, 2021

What an interesting, and rather brave, article and it struck a chord with me. I wouldn’t wish us to go down the RoSPA route of wearing vests because our riding should speak for itself. And there are all sorts of bike clubs out there which run ride outs with what seem to me to be awful accident rates and I would hope that LAM does not fall into that category.

Group riding should not be difficult; what it should be is systematic and safe. However, there have been times in the past (and perhaps quite a long time ago) when I’ve seen the red mist come down, could sense the fear of being thought of as ‘not progressive enough’ or of there being an almost pathological need to ‘keep up’. Such thoughts and feelings can lead to poor decision-making and some very dodgy overtakes. In the past, I have certainly stopped rides and asked people not to bunch and to calm down.

As advanced riders we should have nothing to prove but at the same time we should acknowledge that our green badge carries a responsibility to set an example.

Just my thoughts, of course, but well done to Derek for raising this.

Huw

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