Keeping on Learning

It was a training day for me. I’m rather pooped, however, I feel compelled to share my experience in the best way I know; by blogging! Roddy, that’s what this is; an online log or ‘blog’! Have you mastered Facebook yet?

Roddy Benzies is a qualified Police Motorcycling Instructor, registered with the DVSA as a Post-Test Motorcycle Instructor, with a very handy diploma of Higher Education in Training & Development. He’s authorised to issue a certificate of competence after an assessed ride on behalf of the DVSA and there’s plenty more qualifications to his name which you can find by clicking here. Nice one, Roddy. Fabulous CV!

I have been very lucky to have received training from Roddy over the years. Prior to my IAM road test, he put me through my paces at an EDAM slow-manoeuvring day. It was just what the doctor ordered at the time. Doing circles at full lock and going in and out of cones that were so tight, the first thought was ‘no chance’. With lots of patience and an injection of self-belief, it was a joy.

Another year, again, at East Fortune, in a deluge of constant rain, he had me do the most amazing braking drills. Stopping using your brakes to their full potential, even in the lashing rain. Days like that, in a controlled environment, are invaluable for improving your riding skills. My memories of that day remain. I had to go and get a passport photo done on the way home. I remember dampening my hair and drying it under a hand dryer in the ladies toilet at Sainsburys. I guess the photo shows the ‘true me’, with helmet head! That photo will be a constant reminder!

When I was selected to go forward for Observer training, Roddy was part of the training team. How lucky were we?! After rigorous training, Roddy, given his qualifications, put us through our road exam. He has an amazing way of making you feel relaxed. I was nervous, after months of training and studying, however, I needn’t have worried. I had a great time. So, as you can imagine, I was REALLY looking forward to having a day out with him!

So, Roddy, having retired from his day job as a Police Instructor at Tullyallan, has set up his own motorcycle training company, ‘get2grips’. I am now a few weeks away from my National Observer exam so I thought it would be a great opportunity to see how my riding stood up to close scrutiny. We met at my favourite ‘day off’ stop, Gloagburn Farm Coffee Shop. A superb (gluten free) eggs benedict for me, a roll & sausage for Roddy.

Fuelled, Roddy sorted out our communication – a Scala two way system. Then we were off, heading to Crieff, with a stop on the way to adjust some settings. Again in Crieff to move the ear pieces in my helmet.

All good, we headed up the Sma’ Glen. Roddy firstly got me to ride fairly slowly, whilst he talked in my ear about the LPOV (limit point of vision). This is the furthest point on the road where you have an uninterrupted view of the Tarmac (for those that might not know). A cracking refresher it was too.

A wee debrief at Amulree (where my visor fell out – luckily it didn’t end up in a field!) then Roddy rode in front, giving me a full commentary. Oh. My. God. I would say that I have pretty good observation skills, however, now I realise that there was a bit of my old school report cards that sneaked in: ‘could try harder’; ‘Fiona should concentrate more’. I shouldn’t beat myself up, I’m not bad, but bloody hell, Police riding is something else. Anything ‘man made’ has entered a different dimension of analysis after today!

A rest for Smoggy... and me!

A rest for Smoggy… and me!

Another debrief in Dunkeld. After that, I was starting to get on to roads that I was unfamiliar with. Not to worry. That’s what understanding the LPOV is all about. A coffee stop at Bridge of Earn was needed. Then off to some REALLY unfamiliar roads. I had a ball. The deluge of rain was another test, but thankfully, living where I do, gives me lots of practice and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. We took all sorts of twisty, challenging roads, making me focus hard.

We finished off at Kinross services; I was knackered, but very satisfied that I had learned a great deal. We managed to get the comms off my helmet in the dry, before we parted ways. Back to Edinburgh for me, not missing the flash flood on the way.

My learning? Observations taken to a totally different level. I think a lot of people in cars and on bikes ‘look’ when they are driving or riding, but do they actually SEE what is round about them? Another bit of corrective coaching saw improved blind-spot checks and setting myself up for overtakes, in particular to sling-shot out a bend getting ready to nail that overtake (my homework). All in all, complete satisfaction that I’d spent a day with a true master of riding motorcycles. I can’t recommend Roddy highly enough. He makes you feel so at ease with his calm demeanour, and obvious knowledge of how to handle a motorbike. No matter what your level of riding is, you will benefit from the investment. It will make you a safer rider, observe more effectively and just feel that complete, satisfying joy of being on a motorbike.

After my day I was done in. I made it to 10pm, that was it. Then I passed out and slept soundly, dreaming of riding twisties on Smoggy. Sweet dreams. Thanks Roddy. May your business flourish.

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