Review of 2021
Happy New Year! Here is my review of 2021, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed putting it together.
In 2021 Covid had a major impact on our daily lives and it meant I was not able to start training until April and many events, tours and plans had to be scrapped or rescheduled but despite all the issues, I still managed another great year of rider training and testing and I also moved home and got married!
New home and we got married!
In mid January, Kim and I moved home and then spent the rest of January, all of February and most of March having work done. If that wasn't enough stress, we also headed off to Gretna Green to get married! As we end 2021, the bungalow is nearly finished and just needs new sofas and carpets, which should be done by the end of February. We gave ourselves a year to get it how we wanted so we haven't done bad and even the budget has stayed pretty much on schedule. One of the many jobs was a new kitchen and associated alterations.
A Gretna Green wedding hadn't been our original plan but with the ever increasing restrictions being imposed on weddings early in the year, we decided to just 'do it'. We headed off and had a wonderful and very personal time. In fact it was bloody fab!
Throughout 2021 I met and trained with more great customers, some new and some returning. Tony (Ducati Multistrada) and Neil (Fazer 600) were the first customers of 2021 and Steve finished off the year on his BMW GS.
All riders come for different reasons, some to get to a test standard, some for a general assessment and some to work on a certain aspect of their riding and I would like to say a massive thank you to each and every one of you, you make my job such a joy to do.
In the hope of not offending anyone I might have missed, I thought the following customers deserved a little bit of a 'special mention'.
As mentioned above, Tony and Neil came to me back in April, the guys are neighbours and friends and both wanted to obtain RoSPA test passes so that they could become Blood Bikers. Well, I'm very pleased to say that after only 3 days of training, they both passed their RoSPA tests at Gold grade and went on to join WhiteKnights Yorkshire Blood Bikes. Here they are on their first duties as volunteer riders.
Paul B booked with me after returning to biking after a 36 year break, yes, 36 years! Many things have changed since Paul had last ridden so it's fair to say that his first few sessions on his BMW 800GT were very steady. Fortunately Paul soon started to get to grips with advanced techniques and as his skills grew, so did his confidence. By the end of 2021 Paul was riding further and for longer and had successfully completed the DVSA approved Enhanced Rider Scheme and passed the BMF Blue Riband Rider Award. Paul plans to take his RoSPA test in 2022.
Here's Paul with BMF Examiner Alf after successfully passing his BMF test.
Mark came up from Oxford on his Triumph for his training. Mark only passed his test 3 years ago but in that time had managed to cover around 50,000 miles! Mark stayed in a local hotel and had a full day of training before returning south. I met Mark again at Motorcycle Live in December where he informed me that on retuning home, he had successfully passed his RoSPA bike test.
Danny came for a half day session with me on his Honda CB500. Nothing remarkable there I hear you say, but there is, because Danny rode down from Sterling.....Sterling in Scotland! Yes thats right. Danny rode down on the Monday, camped overnight locally, trained with me the following morning and then headed north to Scotland in the afternoon. Fortunately Danny said he'd really enjoyed his session and that the travelling had been well worth it!
Nick holds many driving qualifications but is relatively new to riding, having only passed his bike test in 2020. However, Nick was eager to learn and was soon transferring his driving skills over to 2 wheels. In 2021 Nick passed the Enhanced Rider scheme, the Blue Riband Rider Award and finished off by passing his IAM test.
Customer test passes
Several customers who trained with me during 2021 went on to pass either the Enhanced Rider scheme, BMF, RoSPA or IAM tests and some passed more than one!
Congratulations go to;
Tony W - RoSPA Gold, BMF Blue Riband Rider Award.
Neil C - RoSPA Gold, BMF Blue Riband Rider Award.
Andy E - RoSPA, Blue Riband Rider Award.
Nick W - Enhanced Rider Scheme, Blue Riband Rider Award, IAM.
Paul W - Blue Riband Rider Award.
Chris O - Blue Riband Rider Award.
Mark J - Blue Riband Rider Award.
Tim E - RoSPA
Howard S - Enhanced Rider Scheme.
Stuart B - Blue Riband Rider Award.
Mark S - RoSPA.
Bill - B - Enhanced Rider Scheme, RoSPA.
Mick W - RoSPA
Steve S - Blue Riband Rider Award, RoSPA.
Ian J - Blue Riband Rider Award, RoSPA.
James Q - Enhanced Rider Scheme.
Gareth W - Enhanced Rider Scheme.
Ben L - Enhanced Rider Scheme.
Steve H - Enhanced Rider Scheme.
Michael H - Blue Riband Rider Award.
Patrick E - Blue Riband Rider Award.
BMF Blue Riband Rider Award.
In February I was appointed Region 2 Chief Instructor for the the BMF Blue Riband Rider Award. Since being appointed, I have assessed and 'signed off' 3 new local Instructor Assessors and conducted 6 'normal' tests. I'm thoroughly enjoying the role and hope to make more people aware of the scheme in 2022.
RoSPA Examiner role.
Only 12 tests conducted in 2021. These consisted of 9 standard tests, 2 Advanced Tutor retests and 1 Diploma retest.
RoSPA and BMF combined, well almost!
You never quite know who your next customer is going to be and such was the case when I was contacted by bike journalist Simon Weir. Simon is well known for his road tests and motorcycle travel but it's less well known that he has been an advanced rider for many years and holds a RoSPA Motorcycle Diploma. Simon had contacted me about becoming a BMF trainer and during that conversation it became apparent that his Diploma was due for its triennial retest. I contacted RoSPA and the BMF who were both happy for me to conduct the tests, so a date was agreed.
I met Simon in Wragby, Lincolnshire which was the approximate half way point between our respective homes. Simon put in some great riding and instructor role plays to successfully pass both tests. We finished the day with a photo by the Humber Bridge.
Enhanced Rider Scheme.
This scheme continues to give riders a great introduction to advanced riding with a DVSA approved and insurance industry recognised qualification. 7 customers successfully completed their ERS in 2021.
I have been involved with BikeSafe since it's inception in 2000 and it's still something close to my heart. In 2021 due to Covid, events were few and far between and I only managed to attend 1 event but thoroughly enjoyed the day, as always. I'm looking forward to the 2022 dates being published and hope to get to more events next year.
Rider Development Weekend.
In September, along with fellow BMF Instructor Assessor Alf G, we took 6 riders for a 3 day rider development course to the borders of Scotland. The guys were split into 2 groups of 3, with me coaching one group and Alf the other and on the final day we swapped groups to conduct the Blue Riband Rider Award assessments.
All six riders put in some great riding, especially on day 2 when the weather was less than kind and all 6 passed their assessment successfully. It was a great few days and we will be running the same course again in May 2022. More details to follow.
From L-R - Alf, Chris, Tony, Neil, Stuart, Andy, Mark and moi.
Motorrad Tours, Tour Leader duties.
The Covid virus caused many tours to be postponed and rescheduled in 2021 and we can only hope 2022 allows us to tour more. In 2021, despite Covid, I still managed to lead 2 tours to Scotland. Both tours were dealers customer tours organised on behalf of the dealers by Motorrad Tours.
First up was customers of Bowker Motorrad at Preston, This tour is always well attended and this years tour was no exception.
The second tour was for customers of Barrie Robson BMW of York. Another 5 day tour around Scotland's finest roads.
As well as leading 2 tours to Scotland for Motorrad Tours in May, I headed there again in August with my good friend and biking buddy Daren. The intention had been 5 days around Scotland followed by 3 days around Wales. Unfortunately the Meniscus I damaged in my left knee in July had other ideas and after 5 consecutive days on the bike I had to admit defeat and we headed home. I rested it for a few days and then was back on the bike, but unfortunately I had further issues in August resulting in me having to stop riding and cancel about 10 days of training. Fortunately, everyone was very understanding and happily rescheduled their sessions. Although I'm back up and bout, I'm still having issues and I'm currently awaiting an MRI and X-ray appointment.
Here's a few from the Scottish leg of the trip.
Bike Demos - Triumph 1200RS/BMW S1000R Sport.
As some of you know, I have a big soft spot for 'nakeds'. I've previously owned a Honda CB1000R, a Tuono and more recently 2 BMW S1000Rs, so I was eagerly awaiting the launch of the new Triumph 1200RS and the gen 3 BMW S1000R Sport.
First up was the Triumph and it didn't disappoint. Big horse power, low weight and that gorgeous Triumph triple engine. I have to say I was very impressed. Early magazine road tests talked of extremely stiff suspension but I didn't find that and I deliberately took it down some of my less than perfectly smooth training routes. So, either the magazines are being overly critical or A1 Triumph at York had been softening things off prior to letting people ride it. All I do know is, it was a great bike to ride and I'm surprised you don't see many on the road.
When Kev at Barrie Robson BMW invited me to put some miles on their BMW S1000R Sport demonstrator I was very excited. I owned gen 1 and 2 versions so the gen 3 is definitely on my radar for the future. Everything about the bike is a little sharper than the previous model and the new TFT dash is fantastic. I really liked the S1000R and it is highly likely that one will end up in my garage at some point in the future.
First up, I was part of a 'team of experts' (their words not mine) for a 12 page Better Riding feature in MCN. The feature was full of hints and tips about all aspects of riding and I felt very humbled to have been invited to contribute.
My second appearance was in RiDE Magazine and was a feature on readers favourite local rides. The prerequisite is the route should be approximately 70 miles long, have a few places of local interest to see and a cafe/pub or 2 to visit. The journalist who put the feature together was Kevin Raymond, a really interesting guy.
Each reader who gets published 'wins' a pair of tyres, I'm just hoping RiDE don't send me a pair for the K1600!
In 2021 I started the year with a 68 plate 1200 GSA and finished with a brand new Kawasaki Versys 1000 and a 16 plate BMW S1000R Sport and had a K1600GT Sport in between! My GSA served me very well. In 24 months of ownership it took me to many places and we covered around 30,000 miles.
The K1600 is a great bike but not a great training bike. That said, in 7 months of ownership we covered 14000 miles together.
Having done some research, I decided I was going to buy a Versys 1000. I know they never win any group tests but in isolation the bike journalists always comment positively about them. I contacted 5 Ways Motorcycles in Hull and a deal was done for a new Versys. I added the full GT pack and a couple of other items and collected the bike in October. At that point I still had the K1600. I've now had the Versys just over 2 months and have covered around 1500 miles. Kim still hasn't been on the back but from my point of view, early findings are very good. I more or less like everything about it, with the exception of the LED dash and the range to empty facility. However, both are fairly minor points that I'm sure I'll grow to live with.
Following on from buying the Versys, I began the search for a BMW S1000R Sport.
I wanted a gen 1 in white, preferably with low miles and a FSH. Well, low and behold, one such bike came up for sale at Barrie Robsons, what's the chances of that?! The bike was a 1 owner, 2016 bike with just 7,700 miles on the clock. Even better news was that they had supplied the bike new and carried out all the servicing. John at Robsons was soon crunching numbers and a deal was agreed, with them taking the K1600 off me in part exchange. I only collected the bike in November so haven't been out on it much but the few short rides I have had have resulted in the same huge grin! Lol.
Motorcycle Live - NEC.
It was great news when it was confirmed that the 2021 Motorcycle Live show at the NEC would go ahead, especially as I had been allocated to work at the show on the BMW stand representing Motorrad Tours and all things BMW. I've been fortunate to have worked the show previously so I knew it would be another great experience. I spent 5 days at the show, meeting people and talking about the tours and all things BMW. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello.
Here I am with Motorrad Tours founder, Richard M and Tour Director Chris H.
The last event of the year was the Motorrad Tours Christmas get together, a chance to look back at the years tours and ahead to the next years tours. This years meeting was in Stratford Upon Avon, with almost all of us able to attend. It was great to catch up with everyone over a beer and a meal and find out what everyone had been up to. The next time we'll be together as a group will be in March for our annual training.
My FB page continues to grow, as of today I have 1228 'likes and followers', which is bloody fantastic, thank you for your continued to support.
In December, I joined Instagram. I haven't quite got my head around how it works and how I can make the most of it so bear with me.
My final thanks go to my amazing wife Kim, who continues to support me, keep me in check, whilst also letting me get away with all that I do.
Here's wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2022.
Thanks for reading, stay safe and don't forget to contact me to book some training!