Every year I set myself a target to achieve, sometimes it may be a trivial thing, sometimes it is a formal task such as the Diploma in Photography that I completed two years ago. This year, of all years, I took on a target that turned out to be the toughest, yet most rewarding challenge that I have given myself, the IAM Masters.
My journey started in January when I signed up with IAM Roadsmart to join the Masters programme. Within days I was allocated a Mentor, Max Webber.
As an experienced advanced rider, and National Observer, I thought I was a pretty good rider and that I would have a check ride with Max and put in for my test….WRONG!
My very first lesson was that I learnt was that no matter how good you think you might be, your riding will deteriorate without a regular, at least annual, check ride with a member of the group.
But the Masters is more than that. It is about taking your riding to the highest level through observed rides, structured and honest feedback, a thorough knowledge of Motorcycle Roadcraft, and most importantly….. practice,practice, practice.
My first ride with Max was a real eye-opener for me and, I suspect, a “what have I let myself in for” moment for Max.
Now one thing the Masters is not, is being able to ride like a bat out of hell. I didn’t know this on my first ride, so when I looked in my mirror along the Fulking(yes Fulking, you might have mis-read it!) to find that I was on my own, I turned around to find Max waiting patiently for me and then politely explaining that disappearing up a narrow road at speed with little heed to safety was not the Masters’ way. Well, that is the sanitised version of the conversation!
So it wasn’t going to be a check ride and apply for test then!
What followed was a series of rides with Max (interrupted by lockdown) which took my riding to a level which enabled me to make safe, legal progress in all types of conditions. To be able to ride to plan by being in the correct position, at the correct speed, and in the right gear to deal with hazards.
There is so much more that I learnt (not least how to ride slowly with confidence) on the Masters journey, too much to list here, which made me a much better rider and led to a successful test in September, achieving my Masters.
My key message to the group is that you are never as good as you might think you are and get your riding checked at least annually. Secondly why not take your riding to another level, it is bloody hard work with loads of practice and reading, but you will not regret it.
Lastly, my sincere thanks to Max for his knowledge, encouragement, and patience.