Amazing April. Lockdown ends and training finally restarts, resulting in my busiest month ever!
Well, it is fantastic to be back! After months of lockdown, April 12th finally saw training and testing restart and what an amazing month April has been.
April has probably been my busiest month since I started as an independent trainer. I've worked more days in a row and even some Sundays to keep up with demand. Thanks to all of the following people who trained with me in April.
First up was Neil & Tony (600 Yamaha/V4 Multistrada) who completed 3 sessions as they train towards becoming Blood Bikers. Keep reading for a further update on Neil and Tony.
Jon (117,000 mile GS!) was up next and wanted a skills check because it's been over 10 years since he passed his IAM test. He wanted to know if he'd picked up any bad habits or lost some 'polish'. He hadn't!
Andy (1200RT) has recently come back to biking after a very long break and took the sensible decision to have some refresher training. Next session already booked.
Nick (500 Honda) holds various driving qualifications but only passed his bike test last year and wanted to transfer those driving skills across to his riding. After a little bit of theory and explanation backed up by a demo ride, Nick was soon 'up to speed' (no pun intended) resulting in him passing the Enhanced Rider Scheme assessment! Next session already booked.
Paul (Yamaha R6) is undergoing training with the IAM and decided to supplement that by training with me too. He rode up from the Peak District and we had fun in the sun, which was in total contrast to his first session with me back in October, which was in strong winds and torrential rain! Next session booked.
Chris (K1600GT) came from South Yorkshire for his training. Chris holds an IAM pass and has also completed 2 BikeSafe days and was looking for a general refresher. Chris told me he hadn't been sure what to expect but he'd had....and I quote...ahem... "a fu*$#ing mint day"! I am pleased to say he has booked another session for later in the year.
Mark (1990 Honda XRV750) wanted a general riding health check and an introduction to advanced techniques and did it on this great looking Honda!
Joe (950 Multistrada) passed his test in 2017 and wanted a general riding health check and some pointers to improve his cornering and overall smoothness. Joe will be back again in August.
Mark (Triumph Explorer) booked 2 nights in a hotel in York and travelled up from Oxfordshire for his training. Mark only passed his test 3 years ago but has already managed trips to Scotland, the Pyrenees and Norway and has covered around 50,000 miles! Mark has previously completed 2 BikeSafe days and is looking to take his RoSPA test so wanted some training to prepare him for it. Marks only criticism of his training was that I live too far away from him to book more often!!
Mark (GS850 Sport) holds an IAM qualification and is an IAM Observer and as part of his CPD wanted an independent assessment and to 'brush up' in one or two specific areas. Mark will be back again in the future but not until the weather gets WORSE as he wants wet weather practice!
Tom (Africa Twin) was given one of my training vouchers as a birthday present from his friends so decided to have an overall appraisal of his riding as he takes the first steps towards advanced training. Next session booked.
Andy (R1200GSA) is a life long biker and wanted a riding 'health check' to ensure his riding is still up to scratch. Already a good rider, it only took a few pointers here and there to get him flowing through the bends again. Andy will be back again in June.
Ian (R1250GSA) is a returning customer as he continues his training towards getting to test standard for either the RoSPA, IAM or BMF Blue Riband test in the future...or maybe all three! Next session in the diary.
And last but not least, Tony (V4S Multistrada) was back on the last day of April for a pre test assessment as he prepares for his RoSPA test, which is booked for a date in May. See below for how his mate Neil got on.
First customer test pass of 2021!
Not all my customers want to progress to a certified test, most want bespoke training for a certain aspect of their riding but Neil came with his friend Tony for 3 days of training as they both wish to become Blood Bikers. They completed their training on 26th April and both immediately applied for their RoSPA tests. Neil got the short straw and went first, taking his test on 29th. I was over the moon when he contacted me and told me that not only had he passed but he'd achieved a Gold in the process, RoSPAs highest pass grade possible. Fantastic! No pressure Tony!
RoSPA - Advanced Riders North Yorkshire.
On the 17th April I joined my local RoSPA group (Advanced Riders North Yorkshire) for the first training session of the year. I've been involved with the group since 2013 and took over as Training Officer in 2014 and have maintained the role ever since. It was a very well attended session with 10 associates and 10 tutors turning out. Social distancing had to be observed so we met and paired up in a large car park before heading out to train.
I paired up with Jade who was on her 390 KTM. Jade passed her test a couple of years ago and had just started her RoSPA training when lockdown kicked in, so this was only her second session.
Following the training there was some socially distanced debriefs over a brew and a butty. It was a fab day and the fact the sun was shining made it all the more enjoyable.
I conducted two tests in April, Chris (1250 GS) was my first test candidate of 2021 and put in a great ride and thoroughly deserved his pass at Gold grade.
Steve (R1250RT) followed Chris the following week with me conducting his triennial RoSPA Advanced Tutor retest, which he passed successfully. Well done to both Chris and Steve, both put in great rides.
British Motorcyclists Federation.
April saw the arrival of my latest certificate! This was to confirm my role as Region 2, Blue Riband Chief Instructor for the BMF. Region 2 covers from the Humber to the Scottish border and the role will see me conducting training and examining not just 'normal' test candidates but also assessing, testing and examining new and existing Blue Riband Rider Award trainers.
My first duty in my new role was to assess Alf (1250GSA) to become a BMF trainer/assessor. Alf is an experienced rider, a RoSPA Diploma holder and Enhanced Rider Scheme trainer and passed the assessment successfully. Here I am giving him a congratulatory 'elbowing'. Check Alf out at www.agridertraining.co.uk
Great news on the tours front, in April Scotland's FM announced they were back open! This means my first 2 tours are go, go, go! First up is a dealer tour to Scotland with Bowker BMW of Preston, followed a couple of days later by another dealer customer tour with Barrie Robson BMW Motorcycles of York.
Covid obviously hasn't gone away and restrictions are still in place (albeit slightly relaxed) and with both tours fully booked, it will be great to be touring again. I'm very fortunate as I have led the Bowker tour a few years in a row so have got to know many of the regulars and whilst the Barrie Robson tour is a new tour, I also know almost everyone on it too! More on both tours in next months round up.
BMW K1600GT Sport.
I picked the K1600 up on 21st march but due to Covid restrictions my first real 'proper ride' wasn't until 29th March but I've since managed to cover around 2500 miles.
Although I've owned two K1600s previously, I was a little apprehensive about returning to one after 65,000 miles of GSA ownership over the last 4 years. It's fair to say that the transition from one to the other hasn't been as smooth as I would have liked. The 'Sport' comes with a much smaller screen than the standard K1600 and I found it caused quite a lot of buffeting with some substantial wind noise. I also struggled a bit with the more cramped riding position and when I say cramped, thats cramped relative to a GSA. This caused regular bouts of cramp in my right hip when first setting off and lifting my feet onto the pegs. I also suffered with some neck and shoulder ache which is probably due to the heavier weight of the bike and narrower bars meaning less leverage when riding through bends. Fortunately, the purchase and fitting of a near standard size screen cured the buffeting and wind noise and with 2500 miles under my belt the aches and cramps have all but gone.
Likes; I love the looks, the colour scheme, the presence it has on the road and the noise....oh yes, the noise from that beautiful inline 6 cylinder engine is awesome! I love the ease of central locking on the panniers and cubby holes and the comfort that the heated grips and seat gives you on a cold and frosty Spring morning. I'm also a fan of cruise control and like having the radio. It all makes for relaxed riding.
Dislikes; Not many. It seems a little thirsty at 48mpg, but that could be down to my riding style and despite the gearbox upgrades there's still some 'transmission slap' when in low gears on and off the throttle. I expect tyre wear rate won't be great, on my previous K16s I used to get between 4,500 and 5,500 miles out of a set of tyres. It was nearer 7,000 on the GSA.
Other than that, I have to say that I have no regrets and am not missing the GSA. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year and will be heading to Scotland and Wales for an 8 day 2000 mile trip in August with my long time biking buddy Daren.
I don't yet have any photos of me and the K16 with beautiful Yorkshire back drops but I'll try to remedy that for next month.
Thanks for reading and until next month, ride safe.