5 min read

Hi all and welcome to another Chair’s Chatter, which I write on a cold, wet and grey day in June. Typical given we are now allowed more freedoms but of course were denied riding when the weather was at its best - oh well, they say nurses have it tough!

As I write this, we are yet to restart observed rides, but hopefully as you read this, we will have started observed rides on a 1-to-1 basis, under strict guidelines supplied to us by the IAM who have granted all groups permission to restart motorcycle training from 15th June 2020. We are all lucky that we were bitten by the two-wheel bug and as a result have our own “mini isolation suits” (helmet, gloves, boots and of course suit) which allow us a degree of isolation. When combined with social distancing, this gives us an advantage over our four-wheeled colleagues, who for all the right reasons, are still prevented from any form of IAM activity.

If, and when, I get that time machine I plan to go back to the sixteen year-old me and explain why getting a motorcycle was the smart move; “well you see Dad, there will be this virus which will keep us all at home and will change the world and the way we behave forever, and if you let me get the bike, I'll be able to do something in 2020 that the car members of the IAM can’t”, okay maybe not, but it's nice for motorcyclists to be the good guys for once.

It’s become a bit of a broken record now, but COVID-19 is unprecedented. Over the years, LAM has strategised over many situations, but these were mainly how to encourage more female riders, younger riders, one-legged riders, we never considered a global pandemic. However, that’s what we have, so I apologise now for the clunkiness of our restart and the need to book OR's via our shop. We know it isn’t perfect, but it will work for now and we'll look to enhance the process as we move forward. Our priority is to try and get our road safety group, well, umm, back on the road.

The virus is still evident and there are still reported deaths plus the chance of second (or third) spikes. As such, we are by no means back to where we were and I suspect we will be a few months away from Potlucks or large group meetings.

If you do ask for an OR, or you are an Observer who has agreed to undertake an OR, please always consider “IMSAFE”. If there is any reason why you feel you should not take partake in said OR, please cancel. As a group, we still need to be mindful of our responsibilities in controlling the spread of the virus and prior to your OR your observer will pass a copy of the guidelines to you for you to read and understand.

The group has asked all of its observers to consider their personal circumstances with regards to observing and returning to group activities and there is no pressure on anyone to take part in anything they are not comfortable with until such time as the virus has been removed or a cure has been found. LAM is made up of volunteers and their safety, and the safety of their families and their work colleagues is paramount.

Also if you are yet to return to your bike and to biking, when you do, please make sure you conduct an analysis of yourself and POWDER checks for the bike.

I've ridden my bike 4 times since lockdown eased:

  1. It's annual service (£275)
  2. A return to biking/recalibration where I was shockingly bad (my default usually, so how did I tell)
  3. Back to the dealer for new tyres because I got a puncture during 2) due to the fact that I was shockingly bad and so were the roads - and I'm also a bit of a puncture magnet (after 30 years of none)
  4. Out one weekend for a friend’s birthday ride, which I'm pleased to say, only resulted in the early demise of a few dead bugs.

Four rides in and I still feel a little at sea (and no, that’s not because we followed Jane’s Sat Nav route), so be careful out there. Mind you, I've been able to get three months out of a tank of petrol.

For those older members amongst us, is there not something similar to the last time petrol was 99p per litre? The difference between then and now is that the Prime Minister is the one telling us we are grounded and not our parents!

As you read through our Progress articles, you'll see an article on Popular Misconceptions and this reminded me of two events in my biking life. The first very recently when we were discussing how we would return to the office, if and when we are allowed and when asked I said I would probably ride my bike in. On hearing this, one of the seniors around the table said “what from Sussex that’s a lot of peddling” to which I replied “Motorcycle Sedgewick, motorcycle” only to receive the stunned look and typical response of colleagues who (like many of us are of colleagues) clueless of our hobbies. “You don’t look like a biker”! How many times have we all heard that?

The second, whilst not really a misconception, more a life lesson to me, involved some Gorilla Tape, Claire Dyson and the Dover to Calais Ferry. I’ve known Claire for almost as long as I have been in LAM and her husband Chris for as long as I have been in LAM and I think it was fair of me to assume (up until that point) that Claire might not have been the most “bloke tidy OCD” aware person that I knew at that point (because in my mind I had never considered it). Anyway, long story short, we were heading to Germany (remember when we could go there) and were in the process of tying our bikes down for the crossing and we needed to use metal ended straps. Quite rightly, Chris didn’t want his K1600GT (massive bike) to be scratched by short straps and as such, asked is anyone had any tape. I did, and handed over a brand new roll to Claire, who pulled the perfect amount off the roll, affixed it to the strap and handed the roll back to me – and this is the real bloke stroke, having rolled a portion down to make it easy to use the next time. Never assume anything!

Enjoy the read, stay safe and if you do end up buying those luminous yellow wranglers and the World War II searchlight for the front of your bike, we will probably see you soon!

Paul

 


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