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  • Writer's pictureIan Speight

Review by RiDE Magazine February 2020

As some of you know, over the last couple of years I've been very fortunate to have been invited to participate in various magazine articles as featured in the likes of Motor Cycle News, RiDE Magazine, The Journal (BMW Club Magazine) and RoSPAs Care On The Road. It's something that has been very interesting to do and I always look forward to doing them. So it was great to get a call from journalist Jon Urry from RiDE Magazine asking if I would be interested in doing an article about the training I offer. This would form part of a monthly feature called 'Riding School Rated'. Jon and I had discussed this previously, the idea being that the article would try to replicate the customer experience. It took me all of about 5 seconds before I said "yes!"

The plan was to meet Jon and photographer Jason Critchell at Cadwell Park at 10am on Tuesday 21st January. Although I rarely train in Lincolnshire, we decided on Cadwell as it is more or less half way between me in York and them coming up from Peterborough, the plan being to discuss the day ahead over a cuppa and breakfast in Cadwells diner before heading out for photos and riding.

On the morning of 21st at around 745am I pulled on my bike gear and left York to head for Cadwell, the temp gauge on my GSA showing just 0.5c. It. Was. Feezing!

I made my way down the A1079, right at Market Weighton onto the A1034 and then joined the A63 heading for the Humberbridge. I intended to cross the bridge and then drop onto the Lincolnshire Wolds B roads that would take me on a lovely twisting route to Cadwell. As I crossed the Humberbridge the temp gauge was still only showing 2c, the road surface was very wet and the combination of the low sun and wet road surface was causing some serious 'glare' and making things quite difficult to see, in fact it got so bad that I decided to stop and put my sun glasses on. Yes sunglasses at 830am in January! I also decided to stick to the main roads and just get to Cadwell, get a brew and thaw out!

I arrived at Cadwell Park at around 930am and the first thing I saw was a sign saying the diner was closed! The second was an Honda Africa Twin parked next to a Transit type van. As I pulled up, Jon Urry got out of the passenger seat of the van, he looked as cold as I felt! With diner closed we decided to head to Louth where Jason knew of a petrol station with a cafe.

Here's Jon and I as we first met at Cadwell, photographer Jason capturing our joint 'shivering'.

Once in the cafe I explained to Jon how a training session with me would normally work. I explained I would discuss the customers riding history and establish what they wanted to achieve from the training. We would then head out with the customer leading and me following. After a short ride I would talk to them about their riding, reinforce their good points and then talk about the areas they could work on to improve other areas. I would then give a short demo ride with commentary, during which I explain over the comms what I'm seeing, the hazards I'm identifying and how that decides what road position I take. We then swap over again and I follow the customer giving them pointers over the comms as we ride along. The session then builds as the day progresses.

After warming up at the cafe we headed out to a set of bends so that Jason could get some photographs that would form part of the feature. We spent a fair amount of time riding back and forth in various positions, me in front with Jon following and then vice versa and also with Jason riding pillion on my bike to get some close up 'action shots'. Once Jason was happy it was time for some riding, with Jon leading and I me following, this being the first riding stage of what I would do with a customer. After a few stops, a demo ride and final ride with me following Jon again, we stopped for the debrief. Jon was clearly a very good rider with good forward observations and a confident riding style. He did nip a few speed limits initially but after the first roadside chat he didn't do it again. He also managed to cross some solid white lines for an overtake but in his defence the glare from the road surface was very bad and made them very hard to see, so bad that I did initially pull out with him before seeing the looming 'solids' and letting Jon go. Jon knew he'd done it, only seeing the lines once he'd committed. I'm sure he won't mind me mentioning this because he did put it in the article so fair play to him.

On the 15th February (the April edition of) RiDE came on sale.

I quickly flicked through the pages and there I was, pages 92, 93, 94 and 95, two double page spreads! I have to say that I think the article reads really well, although I accept I am a little biased. Jon scored me 39/50 across the 5 elements. 9/10 for Value for Money, 8/10 for Theory Skills, 8/10 for Practical Skills, 7/10 for Usefulness and 7/10 for Enjoyment, although his free text summary does somewhat contradict the 7's when he says "I really enjoyed Ian's attitude to imparting his wisdom and I felt I learned a lot".

He went on to summarise; "At £150 for seven hours of training, it's extremely good value for money and you also get a lovely day out exploring Yorkshires best roads".

The article also included the comments of two of my many customers, James Paxton and Richard Sherwin, who both gave very positive comments for which I am very grateful, thanks guys.

Here's the article as it featured in the magazine.

All in all it was a great day even if it didn't quite capture a true customer experience given we didn't have as much time riding and spent a lot of time doing photos etc, but I thought Jon covered things really well and I am very pleased with the outcome.

Thanks for reading

Ian S

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