Observers SolentSunday Rota

On the first Sunday of each month, March through to November, we have a free open morning. Come along and have your riding assessed for areas that can be improved upon. There is no need to book – just pitch up for a 10:00 start.

To host this, our Observer team come out in numbers, but to ensure we have sufficient staffing for those busy days, we have a rota. Observers – if you can’t make the date, it is your responsibility to find a replacement observer (inside or outside of the rota). The rota displayed here is the original allocation and we’re not tracking substitutions.

2021

ObserverAugSepOctNov
Blain KellyY
Gary LintonYY
Ian CooperYY
Jim ColeYY
John VarleyYY
Keith LincolnY
Kev RobsonYY
Mark BallardYY
Mike GreensladeY
Neil WeiseYY
Nick BensonYY
Nigel StoteYY
Paul AnthonyYY
Paul TyrrellYY
Peter BaggottYY
Phil IrelandYY
Simon LohfinkYY
Steve LuckettYY
Steve RiggsYY
Steve WoontonYY
Cornering

One of the greatest feelings on a bike is going through sweeping bends at the right speed for each bend. Of course, this involves putting IPSGA into practice, but it also uses another tool: the limit point. IAM RoadSmart, Bike Safe, and RoSPA have put this excellent five-minute video together to explain the concept, and why left-hand bends differ from right-hand bends.

Advanced Rider

IAM RoadSmart Solent is an official provider of the IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider Course.

What is it about?

The aim of the course is to improve your motorcycling skills to become a (much) better than average motorcyclist, allowing you to have a safer, smoother ride through learning about systematic riding and keeping that important element of a fun ride whilst still being legal.

As an Associate, our group offer you one-to-one observed rides with a dedicated Observer giving you continuity through your training. The course is ridden on your own motorcycle, and you will already have your A (or A2) licence, and the bike is capable of being ridden at national speed limits.

You’ll gain confidence, acquire new skills, make new friends, and even possibly get cheaper insurance. Whether you’re a new rider, born-again returning to riding on a more powerful bike, or you just want to be the best at what you do, this course is for you!

The course can take anything from a few months, with the average being about six months – but that depends on how much you put into learning, and treating every ride as a training ride. It will take some commitment to achieve the skills, and read up on the theory, but when you do, you will be one of the most skilled riders on the road, and will be part of the One Percent of riders who hold an advanced qualification.

Solent Advanced Plus

Passed your Advanced Rider tests? Take your skills to the next level.

The texts are the same, the syllabus is the same, so what more are we expecting from you in the Advanced Plus? We are still riding to the four Ss. That means your ride should be safe, systematic, smooth and appropriate progress (speed) made. The difference between this level and the IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider test is the length of the test in terms of time and distance and the level of consistency expected. You must continually concentrate and give your ride your full attention. You must ride every situation according to The System, as if you had never ridden on those roads before.

The Solent Advanced Plus is also about developing your riding positions so they become second nature and are adopted naturally without conscious thought. This only comes from a total passion for your riding and ensuring that every time you ride, you ride to the highest standard. (Riders often ride to two standards, one standard to pass a test or give a demo ride and another when no one’s watching, where they slip back into bad habits.)

The rides you will be doing in this intensive course will provide you with opportunity to ride on roads you might not have seen before. They will be challenging at times and have been carefully selected to help in your continuing development as an advanced rider.

To get the most out of these sessions, it is essential that you practice in between – several hundred miles of quality practice and before your test date, 30-40 miles per day. Treat the observed rides as a master class to fine tune your own rider development.

Rider development points that come out of Solent Advanced Plus training

Over 100 people have taken training with us at this level. There are some common themes around implementing The System that reoccur as they prepare, so if you are aware in advance of what they are, you will know what you might need to work on in your ride.

Information

To take all the information you need to make effective riding plans, you have to scan. Scan all the way to the horizon and then back, taking in more of the periphery as you get closer to where you are, and then scan your mirrors, including any blind spot check if required, and then back to the horizon again.

Be constantly curious: Ask yourself what’s happening? Where does the road go? What do the clues mean? If that is happening, what is going to happen next? Link information as it presents itself to events that may transpire. Plan accordingly on the basis of what you can see happening and what can reasonably be expected to happen. Grade hazards in your mind and don’t over react to those hazards that are not an immediate threat to you. Note the hazard, recognise that it may develop, but don’t make unnecessary adjustments to position or speed that might upset the smoothness and progress of your ride. The ethos of the ride is, “Expect to go, be prepared to stop.”

On the approach to junctions, collect information early. Don’t wait until you are at the Give Way line to start looking; plan early and adjust your speed on approach, then you may not have to stop or put a foot down at all. This is one area where significant progress can be made in a ride without the need for higher speeds. However, safety is paramount. Ensure you have sufficient view before the line, otherwise you will have to stop to get one.

Give information where useful to other road users, but don’t use signals by rote. Acknowledge courtesy with a wave of a hand, if appropriate, especially where your positive positioning to maintain your safety bubble has caused another driver to hold back.

Position

You are riding a motorcycle, not driving a car. This gives you a huge advantage in being able to position for better view and therefore earlier information, which you then use to make riding plans to make progress!

While we moderate positioning for safety, e.g. in the face of oncoming vehicles, or stability, e.g. where the edge of the road has potholes or debris, most riders can still make far more use of the full width of their side of the road, especially in planning for corners and overtakes while in the National Speed Limit area.

Position early for bends to give maximum view, where the view is available; if you can already see through the bend you are in, position for a view through the next bend where there are a series of bends. Keep your head up and your chin out. Constantly ask yourself, “Where is the exit? Where is the limit point going?” Look for all the clues and use them to transition smoothly to the next best position.

Position early for possible overtaking opportunities; you can assess a vehicle and the way it is being driven on your approach to it. There is no need to hang back in a following position for a while, and then move up. Move up, assess and be prepared to overtake, but then drop back without committing yourself if it is not on. Make sure you are fully familiar with the way the 3-stage overtake works. Practice it and gain confidence in the safety margin it provides. The riders who have the most problems with overtaking are the “safe” riders who lack confidence, but eventually give in to frustration and then commence an overtake that genuinely isn’t safe!

On the approach to hazards, think position first and then speed; on many occasions you can avoid the need for a speed adjustment by a change in position and planning a different route through or around. The speed adjustment that follows will likely then be moderate – a slight relaxation of the throttle, as opposed to heavy use of the brakes – and you will be able to see better through the hazard.

Speed (Progress)

IAM RoadSmart Solent can’t advocate that you break the law while training with us, so don’t ask us questions you don’t want to hear the answer to in regard to speed! Your ride is your responsibility and it’s your licence. Making progress is about so much more than maximum permitted speed; it’s primarily about processing information faster and planning, taking advantage of opportunities that you would have otherwise have missed.

If you make your brain work faster on the Information phase and position earlier, the additional progress will come automatically. This is what we are looking for at this level, the “quiet efficiency that is the hallmark of an advanced rider”.

Gears

The System for many riders falls down in respect of their use of gears. In the same way that position should be considered before speed, speed should be considered before a change in gear. It’s “brakes to slow and gears to go!”.

You should always be riding in a gear that gives you the required degree of flexibility of control for the speed you are doing. This is about using the appropriate gear to aid acceleration/deceleration in any given situation. However, do be clear in your mind on the distinction between this desirable use of gears and the unwanted use of gears for braking.

Using “engine braking” only works on the rear wheel, which is the least efficient wheel to brake on at speed. Your bike’s weight is transferred towards the front wheel under braking reducing traction at the back wheel! There’s a reason why bikes come with two big brake discs on the front and only a smaller one at the rear.

Gears are a tool for acceleration; refrain from unnecessary intermediate gear changes on the approach to a hazard until you know which gear you will be using to accelerate through the hazard. Use brakes to slow on approach and once you have reduced speed as far as you need to, come off the brakes and block-change one, or maybe two, gears down to the gear you need to accelerate away. If smoothing out gear changes with the throttle (blip-throttle changing) is something you struggle with, practise it. It’s an essential art to making progress.

Many people still have an urge to get through as many gears as they can in as short a time as possible. They then use too high a gear while riding. Most bikes will give you much better control in bends where engine revs are at or just below 50% of red line. So, if your red line is around 9,000 rpm, consider cornering in a gear that provides 4-5,000 rpm. But, once you are travelling at the desired speed, you will be expected to demonstrate confidence and eco-riding by relaxing the engine and taking a higher gear on the straights. Don’t ride around in 3rd gear all the time as if your bike was an automatic!

Acceleration

The guidance on acceleration out of hazards is that it should be progressive, by which we mean brisk. It should not, however, involve you pinning the throttle open wide as if you were doing a quarter mile on a drag strip! The throttle is a device that allows the engine to draw through more fuel and air to convert into energy that gives the power required for speed. The process isn’t instant. The amount of throttle applied does not have a direct relationship, in the moment, with the amount of acceleration you get. Get a feel for how your bike performs with differing amounts of throttle applied during acceleration.

Lastly, the point at which you should begin to accelerate away from a hazard is at the point of no-return, i.e. where you are already traveling too fast to safely stop. So, do accelerate away through cross roads on the last few metres on the approach. Don’t demonstrate how good your hazard awareness is by slowing down in the middle of the hazard, especially a cross roads. That’s where you are most vulnerable and want to spend as little time as possible.

Understanding why you are riding in this way

Why do it? Why not just go out and bimble round the countryside admiring the views, the lambs and the flowers etc.? You ride this way because you aspire to be an advanced rider. You want to be able to make progress safely. And, ironically, in doing so your observation skills will be honed so that you’ll probably see more of the view than a bimbling rider anyway!

The full name for The System is The Police System of Motorcycle Control. Think about who it was developed for and why. Police need to be able to get from A to B as safely and as progressively as possible. They need a system that allows them to plan their way through hazards efficiently without fuss.

Progress should be the result of excellent information processing, advantageous positioning, appropriate use of speed, being in the right gear and accelerating briskly through hazards. In simple terms, think about the ride, look for a route through the hazards, take it and get on with it! Back to where we started. Expect to go, but be prepared to stop. It’s riding like a hot knife through butter, not a sledgehammer through a wall.

And above all else, we’re doing it because it’s ultimately safer, less tiring and more fun! What more could you ask for?

Test Ready?

Your observer will let you know when they think you’re ready to go on your test ride. The observer will be looking for you to consistently offer a legal, safe, systematic, and smooth ride, ridden at appropriate speeds. You’ll be put forward to go on a mock test with our dedicated Check Ride observer who will either recommend you apply for the test, or do a bit more work with your observer.

When Test Ready: Booking Your Test

There are various methods of booking your test. Please note that it is your responsibility to book, your observer will not do this on your behalf.

The quicker route:

The fastest route: phone IAM RoadSmart on 0300 303 1134, and ask them to book your test. You’ll need your IAM RoadSmart number.

Slightly slower:

You can book your test on the IAM RoadSmart website.

Once you’ve booked the examiner will contact you to arrange a convenient time and place to meet.

Passed Your Test?

The committee would like to present you with a certificate and a Green Badge at the next Club Night. Please let your observer know that you’re going (who, in turn, should tell the Membership Secretary).

Go on some group rides to consolidate your learning, and then consider something further such as Solent Advanced Plus.

Associate Charter

This Charter sets out the basis of the relationship between Observers and Associates. It also describes the role of the Associate Coordinator.

Observers

Observers give their time freely to Associates.  They also invest considerable time, energy and personal expense into their own training – in advanced riding skills and coaching – so they can provide Associates with the best possible experience on the IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider Course.

Associates

In exchange for their Observer’s time and commitment, a reciprocal commitment is required
from Associates:

  • Keeping in contact with their Observer at intervals, regularly enough to support their goals for the course, responding positively to opportunities to go on observed rides
  • Regularly practising between observed rides, continually developing the skills described in the Advanced Rider Course
  • Studying the Highway Code, the Advanced Rider Course material, and Know Your Traffic Signs and, as the course progresses, Motorcycle Roadcraft
  • Participating in Theory and Slow Riding training sessions
  • Contributing towards the Observer’s motorcycle running costs, as set down by the Group and varied from time to time. This is currently £10 for rides up to 40 miles and £15 for rides in excess of 40 miles

Associate Coordinator

The Associate Coordinator is independent of training delivery within the Group and liaises with Associates, Observers and the Chief Observer facilitating the continuing training of Associates when necessary.

The Associate Coordinator is available if an Associate has any issue related to their training or an administrative matter that they wish to discuss, away from their Observer.

However, while any correspondence with the Associate Coordinator can be expected to be focused on facilitating the Associate’s continued training, the commitment outlined above will always come from the Associate.

The Process

  1. After joining the Group, a new Associate’s details are forwarded to the Chief Observer. When a training space becomes available, the Chief Observer will allocate the new Associate to an Observer, usually within a week of them joining the Group.
  2. The Observer will contact the Associate to arrange the initial session, which may include the first observed ride. Subsequent observed rides will be arranged by mutual agreement, based on the Associate’s stated goals for the course.
  3. When an Observer feels that an Associate has progressed sufficiently, they will recommend a Check Ride with a National Observer to verify the Associate’s progress. The Check Ride will be arranged by the Observer through check.rides@iamroadsmartsolent.org.uk.
  4. Associates who achieve a satisfactory standard in their Check Ride will be recommended to apply directly to IAM RoadSmart take the Advanced Rider Test.
  5. An IAM RoadSmart Examiner will contact the Associate directly to arrange a mutually convenient time for the test.

Expectation

  1. We coach every rider as an individual; some riders achieve the necessary skills with six to eight observed rides, while others require more.
  2. Associates are normally expected to pass the IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider Test within one year of joining, although extensions may be allowed depending on individual circumstances.
  3. Associates are encouraged to ride in all weather, as this is an essential advanced riding skill. Before cancelling an observed ride due to the weather, Associates are recommended to discuss any concerns with their Observer.

Not Making Progress

  1. If Associates do not demonstrate the required standard on the Check Ride they will be referred back to their Observer for continued training.
  2. Any Associate who wishes a second opinion on their progress is welcome to come along to a SolentSunday and request an observed ride with an Observer, other than their own.
  3. If, after 10 observed rides, the Observer or Associate feel they are unable to make further progress, the Associate may be referred to the Chief Observer for advice or reallocation to another Observer.
  4. If the Observer feels that the Associate is not making sufficient progress towards their agreed goals over a three month period, or the Associate is not responding to the Observer’s attempts to contact them, the Associate will be ‘pooled’ and await reallocation to another Observer.
  5. Associates who are placed in the pool will usually be contacted by the Associate Coordinator to discuss any issues that maybe affecting them achieving their goals. The Associate Coordinator will liaise with the Associate and the Chief Observer to facilitate their continued training, if possible.
  6. If an Associate feels that, for whatever reason (eg a clash of personality, difference in style etc) they are not making the progress with their Observer, they should first discuss this with their Observer and attempt to agree a revised plan to reach their goals. If this is not satisfactory the Associate may contact the Associate Coordinator, associate.coordinator@iamroadsmartsolent.org.uk to request reallocation to another Observer, at the Chief Observer’s discretion.
  7. Associates who have been pooled but continue to subscribe to membership of IAM RoadSmart and IAM RoadSmart Solent after their first year, will be designated “Subscribers” and will only be reallocated to an Observer on their specific request.