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Gremlin's Tall Stories

Advanced Rider Training Session with Tricia (24/03/2012)

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Itís been a while in the making but after making this blog: I found out about IAM ( and started on a campaign to improve my riding.

With the mileage I do Iím sure my riding isnít completely hopeless, but I do believe in being the best you can be. I did a lot of visiting YouTube, searching for IAM and the British bikers in action, especially the police. They get a lot of advanced training (of which I am quite jealous) and even better, they hold sessions with the British motorcycling public, having days where the bike cops attend, to give feedback to the riders.

I havenít seen any of that here, but the police bikersí training in NZ is based on the UK model. We public donít get the open days like the British, so I resigned myself to watching videos of them in action, especially the police who can hold a running commentary of their riding, observation and actions as they ride. It provided some insight into their approach and mindset to riding.

It actually all started with blogs from KB members themselves. Blackbird ( has passed his IAM test after 8 months of hard slog since he started on the journey, and raftn (, inspired by Blackbird is now approaching his test soon. I read their IAM blogs, and essentially itís about promoting better riding techniques to be safer on the road. To reduce the excuses to zero, itís also incredibly cheap, with the qualified riders donating their time, and itís then expected you give your time back in the future to help those coming through the ranks.

The test is essentially part and parcel of joining up, membership costs $40 a year. In comparison a session with a riding instructor would cost around $80 an hour. No decent excuse not to join huh?

However, Iím getting slightly ahead of myself. I felt the best thing to do was get some professional assessment of my riding. Plenty have told me I ride well, but theyíre in the same boat as me, and not professional or trained instructors. Iíve had minimal formal training, doing BHS to get my learners in 2005, Ride Right Ride Safe on my restricted and then the Defensive Driving Course to shorten my restricted. Since thenÖ nothing. Half of me thought I would be brilliant. The other half thought I would be assessed as a disaster, ridden with bad habits and Iíd be ordered off the bike.

Tricia1000 ( happened to post on KB late last year, announcing ACC was providing a once off subsidy of $100 to anyone undertaking some of her courses (along with other providers). This seemed like perfect timing, and having been busy late last year winding up work for the year I left it until early this year.

The weather however had other ideas. Tricia prefers to do the first assessment in the dry, so that your lines and riding are not affected so heavily by rain and road conditions. The weather took this as a perfect opportunity to get the first two planned dates cancelled, then Tricia was suffering a migraine on the third. The dates had all been over the quiet period of Christmas/New Year, and as we swung back into work the idea of training took a back seat to work. Then there were rides, marshalling for AMCC and even some emergency weekend work.

The TT2000 rolled around in February, then I joined the Gravel Riders Club and did a ride with them. Weekends filled fast with rides and marshalling and finally last weekend I knew I needed to get in contact with Tricia as the subsidy would run out in the mid-year. I asked if she had some space available, and she did, so I took Saturday afternoon, as I planned to have tyres fitted Sunday (for another ride next weekend Ė you see how this works then).

So today finally rolled around, the week hadnít been a lot of fun working around 60 hours and only getting to bed at 3am on Saturday morning. Still, up around 10am, some little chores here and there (ok, work), dropped by Motomail to have a look at some gloves and then on to Orewa, where Tricia has her shop. Iíd be lying if I said I wasnít nervous in the slightest.

I filled in some forms, answered some general questions to give her an understanding of my position (ie, very little formal training, riding for 6-7 years, but over 230,000km) and why Iím doing it. We head out to the bikes, she uses walkie-talkies for bike to bike communication, but this is the best scenario for me, as Iím certain I can use my own CB to communicate, rather than have more speakers in my helmet, and sure enough, no problem. This will make communication extremely easy.

The first section is some urban assessment, Iím in the lead and she guides me through a plethora of lefts and rights around Orewa, Stop signs, Give Ways, roundabouts, the whole lot. A u-turn is also thrown in for good measure (I probably shouldnít have told her Iím deliberately doing it on the BMW because Iím less comfortable on it having done only 44k on it, while Iíve done some 75k on the Hornet, all city work). I imagine sheís satisfied and we make our way out of Orewa north up old SH1 to Waiwera.

Sheíd made it clear in briefing that all stop signs, give ways, speed limits etc were to be obeyed, so I spent a bit of time trying to do the speed limit exactly (perhaps too much) instead of my usual +10 approach (indicated, so Iím somewhere in the grey zone). Weíre held up going down the hill by cars, and Tricia picks up on my changing of gears and braking mid corner, which is a bit of a no-no in advanced riding. I felt I was in no danger due to being slowed by cars, but it doesnít exactly excuse bad riding does it?

In Waiwera she wants me to practise my slow riding (with ďCan you go slower than that?ĒÖ. ďCan you go slower?Ē in my ear). I pull over to ask if she wants me to have my clutch in, as the bike wonít idle any slower. This is confirmed so I hold a pace just below walking speed (and slightly into wobbling speed) before we pull over for some theory. It was all taken from the Police Riders Handbook, which sheíd asked me to read before any sessions so I would get more benefit.

Iíd bought it and another book already, and found the Police one slightly boring, but a book full of information. I disagreed with some of it (like using power and phone poles to read the road) but Tricia explained in the UK these things were relevant. Like everything, there is no hard and fast rule, a lot is judgement calls and there isnít a correct answer. Iíve understood this now that the advanced riding tuition is more about the knowledge to make sound decisions and teach a good set of skills, in order to make safe decisions.

My reading paid off, apparently I was the first NZ student (foreigners get it) of hers to be able to list the IPSGA system of control, brownie points for me! Some more theory, and while a lot might seem logical, for those that have never thought about it, it would hardly be an easy task. Hardest part was figuring out which answer Tricia was after as she asked the questions in cunning ways (or at least I thought so).

Back on the road, another trip through Orewa (Iím rarely ever there but I was fast learning its streets) and to a place called Stillwater. Never been there, no idea where it is, but nothing better than strange roads to test your riding skills. The traffic was being mean, constantly in my way and seeming to turn into every road I was turning into, so as we turned into the side road to Stillwater we stopped on the roadside to give us some room. Tricia questioned some of my lines through corners, so I provided my reasoning.

Moving away and we still basically have cars in front of us, but at least some breathing room is there. It doesnít last for long, but was apparently enough to drop Tricia as I checked after a few corners to find her a couple of corners back. Oops. Not a good idea to lose your instructor and I thought I would be slapped for it, but no comment. Perhaps I caught her on the hop.

The roads proved to be an excellent challenge, two manholes within a corner of each other, both on your usual line and sunken into the ground. Anyone not confident in their skills could panic, target fixate or generally screw them up. I adjusted my line and the BMW sailed smoothly by. We had another chat in the boatyard area, more feedback and then we ended up talking about comms systems, the cables and what options there were available, as we both use Baehr. The most amusing part was an older gentleman coming along and commenting on the bikes and about safe riding etc. If only he knew what we were actually doing out thereÖ

Back to some shops near Orewa (donít ask me where), some more feedback and Tricia asked what I disagreed with in the book, so I listed out the few concerns I had. Overall she was very impressed with my riding given I had had very little formal training and absolutely recommended I go through the IAM process, have an observed ride and to be graded in experience and skill. It was already my intended course, but the professional assessment of my riding was definitely what I wanted first.

Some light rain as we finished up, we couldnít have timed it much better. 2 hours were over extremely quickly and we only did 45km. I headed south, doing some work before heading home for night.

Onward and upward, time to walk in the footsteps of Blackbird and raftn. I better do some more reading of their blogs and IAM. Once I pass the test and become a full member of IAM the training is not over yet, and you can train further to Observer status, where you return the advice to the next batch of willing victims coming through the ranks. First I need the initial observation to tell me how much work I have to do

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  1. Tricia1000's Avatar
    Nah, You didn't catch me on the hop, silly. You had said, that you weren't too sure about me being so close to you, when riding at I killed two birds with one stone, so to speak. Gave you a bit more breathing space, and even had a chance to enjoy the corners myself- still where I could see you though.....
  2. Gremlin's Avatar
    Ah, Ok. When I looked in the mirrors I thought you were far back, so slowed behind the vehicle in front (plus the road offered nowhere to pass).

    I commented on following closely in the first section as you seemed to fill my mirrors, which felt rather close for my comfort, as I know the BMW has very good brakes. Still, if I was still able to be observed, then it's the whole point isn't it

    As I mentioned in PM, my progress into IAM has been delayed slightly after burning my leg in an adventure ride. You'd think I'd know well enough to keep fleshy human bits away from hot motorcycle bits, but apparently not, and have been off my feet for pretty much the last 2 weeks giving it time to heal. Itching to get on with it however...
  3. raftn's Avatar
    Well done Allan, Having seen you ride i was sure you had done some advanced rider training. I actually passed my test a few weeks ago, after a long slog also. One of the biggest things I have learnt is smoothness in cornering, I did chuckle at your comment about breaking in the corner, exactly the sort of thing tricia will pull you up on.

    I am also determined to push on and become an observer. I think this is some thing that you would be excellent at. Well done Allan, and good on you for doing some thing, regardless of how many miles we travel we can always learn some tthing.. There is a big difference between an experinced rider and an Advanced rider.
  4. Gremlin's Avatar
    Just noticed your achievement Roger in your blogs this evening, when I went hunting for some more IAM related experiences to read. Congratulations, I know you've come a long way, as Tricia said you had had a few sessions

    As I said to Tricia, friends might say you ride well, but who are they to say so? (Not bashing them, they're simply in the same position as me). Going to Tricia was about getting comments from someone qualified to comment. I've only been riding 7 odd years, which is nothing compared to others, but who knows how many bad habits you might have picked up? The only difference is that I've done 230,000km+ in those 7 years, on everything from 50cc loaners to 1L sportsbikes to 1.8L cruisers, and now some adventure riding. There have been a few lessons handed out, the odd ones painfully, but thankfully mostly learnt safely and healthily.

    The other thing I'm quickly finding out, which I don't think has been commented on by you or Geoff is the role the bike plays. Most are normal setups, but my GSA with linked braking, ABS and BMW suspension changes the rules a bit. Simple example is my bike won't pitch into corners if I'm hard on the brakes, and rear brake comes on with the front. Will be interesting to see if this comes into play during assessment etc.
  5. KoroJ's Avatar
    Good on ya!
  6. SMG's Avatar
    Just completed the Advanced Riding Training Course on the weekend. Great course, really recommend it and exceptional value at just $20 being subsidised be the Hutt CC.
  7. gijoe1313's Avatar
    Velly interestink me thinks! Vill have to see vat I can do to also improve mine own ridink ya? Good on ya gremlin, always knew you were in a class of your own!