Time to get on your bike!

If your bike’s been on trickle charge and wrapped up in cotton wool for the winter, it’s maybe time to think about unwrapping it. It’s time. Really, it is; sort of. It’s typical Scotland, the day before the MCN Scottish Motorcycle Show, it was snowing. A lot of people got a dose of the white stuff on the Friday before. It was similar weather last year, when we left the show in a full blown blizzard. The joys of living in Scotland.

Not fazed in the slightest, I headed off from home (no snow) down to Edinburgh. Luckily, the weather was fair, but still needed my heated jacket and gloves, given it was about 5 degrees. My mission for the day wasn’t so much looking at the stands at the show, more to promote the IAM and what we can do for our motorcycling public. I took my secret weapon though; Yvonne, who has been a fully fledged member of the IAM since passing her test in August. If anyone was to get 10/10 for enthusiasm, it’s Yvonne.

The Borders group had organised the rota for looking after the mobile display unit. When we got there, it was going like a well oiled machine. It’s not an easy thing to do, to engage motorcyclists however, we were not only offering a bargain price for the Skill for Life course, but also free ride checks. This involves an Observer taking you out for an hour or so, to assess your riding and yes, it’s free (in Scotland). We hope that by giving motorcyclists a ‘taster session’ they will understand the potential benefits.

Too often when you talk to people about the IAM, I’m sure the image of grey hair and flat caps springs to some people’s minds. I would hope everything has moved on a bit. Maybe it’s the expression ‘advanced’ that sets us apart. Should we call ourselves ‘advanced’ or something else that sums up our riding abilities? What is it that we do differently, and hopefully better than some riders? Does ‘advanced’ sound arrogant? Possibly.

Our goal is simple; creating smooth, safe and systematic riders. How we get there, to achieve that goal is down to the person coaching you. Learning should be fun. The Skill for Life course should be a joy, not a chore. It’s up to all of us to be ambassadors to motorcycling (and driving) and encourage others to learn too. Share your experience with others, I have and it works. Enthusiasm is infectious. Be approachable, friendly, engage with people and encourage learning.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day. Admittedly, I barely saw beyond the Ducati stand, and a very sexy Monster. I was too busy blethering to see the whole show but at least hopefully I will have given some motorcyclists the nudge towards improving their skills. The result of the show? It may not have been the best weather outside, but it was good fun catching up with friends old and new. All the people (lots of them) that signed up for a ride check were also entered into a raffle for a free Skill for Life course. Here’s a photo of the chairman of the (impressively organised) Borders group, Colin Ross; with Ben Hilton of Elgin drawing the winning ticket from over 180 entries.

Drawing the winning ticket.

Drawing the winning ticket.

So, get on your bike and make the most of the season. If it’s raining, don’t worry, just do it. If we waited for fine weather, we wouldn’t get out. Anyway, how will you be a better rider if you don’t practice in all the conditions?

Sorry for the delay in posting this, it seems that I’ve been busy on my bike. It’s looking like it’s going to be a busy riding season this year. Bring it on.

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