In 2005 I became a born-again biker, after a long break from riding, having quit when I emigrated from Ireland to England in 1988. I had never taken a motorcycle test in Ireland, so I started with CBT and opted for 3 days rider training over a long weekend and passed my category A test on a Monday morning. I started riding a Yamaha FZ6, a bit of a step up from the 100cc machine I was accustomed to riding back in the eighties. It was a steep learning curve, but I managed to survive my early born-again biker years unscathed.
As I had taken the IAM advanced driver course in 2001, I was aware of the advanced rider course and always had it at the back of my mind to sign up for it. It took a while, but in 2019 I finally signed up and was allocated to WSAM to complete my observed rides. The most important objective for me in taking the course was to ensure that I am always riding safely and to continually improve my riding. Other than BikeSafe, which I did some years ago, I had never been out regularly with someone who was there to observe my riding, and through feedback and questioning, to encourage me to evaluate and improve my own riding. This process worked well for me, and I found the debriefs, by the roadside or over coffee, informative and encouraging.
Another reason for taking the course was to meet and ride with like minded bikers. There is a friendly atmosphere at WSAM and plenty of opportunities to ride out with other observers, members, and associates. I became an observer with WSAM because I enjoyed my observed rides, improved a lot as a rider, and felt that I could develop the required skills to help associates improve their riding.
I believe that the more advanced riders there are out there, the safer it is for all of us. Observing is a fantastic way to give something back whilst achieving something worthwhile and continuing to develop my own riding skills. It is also another good excuse to get out on a bike – as if I need one!