BMF - the British Motorcycling Federation Blue Riband Advanced Riders' Award
There is not that much detailed information out there about the BMF Blue Riband Training programme. For me the decision was easy, My trainer, Panos had moved form RoSPA to BMF, so having already trusted him with my bike and my life to an extent simply swapping schemes was not a big deal. I'd like to see more details out on the web and will push for that. Both RoSPA and BMF have a time limited pass which encourages you to retest at regular intervals which to me makes perfect sense. If you ride every day, commuting or not you can become complacent, if you don't ride every day you can lose your skills or certainly they can need refreshing, what better way than to have a regular schedule of learning and testing to ensure that you maintain a high level of skill?
The way I see it there are several ways in which to keep improving your riding;
- keep asking questions of other riders, they may have tips or tricks you haven't learnt or just don't understand yet
- try to keep the voice of your last instructor in your head, when you do get something a bit wrong, think about what he/she would have said, not dwell on the fact you got it wrong
- read - there are lots of books out there, Roadcraft, Twist of the Wrist to name a couple
- go to open days at training groups where observed rides are offered, take on board what is said even if you choose not to join that group
All that is before you even look at advanced training. When I first looked into it I wanted to end up with a bit of paper that told the world that I had improved my riding to a level where I was considered to be a good, safe rider by a respected body. These days I like to have that certificate to underline my own commitment to myself to continue to maintain a good level of skill and safety. I want to be a responsible rider, and a safe road user whilst still having fun and enjoying my riding.
Having already trained to a high standard with Panos and whilst not meeting up as regularly as we should have in between we only really needed a jolly and a mock test to prepare. Normally you would meet up for an assessed ride, a full discussion of your riding abilities and what you wish to achieve from your training. Depending on your existing level of skills you would then normally need a couple of days training before booking your test.
Your assessment is usually free so what have you got to lose? If you agree with the things which come up in your feedback, why not look at following through with the training to improve them? Remember, you have nothing to lose with advanced training, you can only gain, whilst on the road, without the right skills, you could lose everything.
04/07/12 - Met with my examiner, John at his riding school; Petersfield Motorcycle Training (PMT, funny huh?) We had a cup of tea and a chat. This was my first meeting with John as being trained by Panos means testing by John and vice versa. John is a lifer when it comes to bikes, his experience and knowledge is vast and he has a passion for biking and for teaching real skills to tomorrows' riders. I was nervous, no doubt about it. I'm always nervous when the word 'test' is involved.
We set out and did quite a lot of tiny lanes, a lot of riders would not be pleased with these but being trained by Panos means I am well used to them and can enjoy them too. I would never work them into my daily route, as although there is less traffic on them I feel that the risks can be higher than on larger roads. I understand why they are used in training and I think you should be able to ride confidently anywhere. I really can't remember where we went but it was mainly around the Chichester area, taking in some A272, a bit of A27 and lots of little ones in between. We stopped at Petworth for a comfort break, pie and tea which I was really in need of by then.
I was fairly satisfied with my ride, I only picked myself up on a few very points - not enough shoulder checks, forgetting to just ride for myself and not the pair of us, and maybe not the best positioning here and there, but no 'clangers' that I can recall. I did miss one speed limit sign but as soon as I saw the repeater I reduced my speed. I'm only human after all so I'll let myself off!
My thanks must go without doubt to Panos for doing such a good job instructing all those years ago and helping me to keep to a good level of skill and to John for helping me to relax and get on with the job at hand of simply having a great day out on the bike with a fellow biker, following the system to ensure safe and tidy progress.
I'd also like to mention Andy here, my first trainer, all those years ago in Sidcup. Andy's patient and straightforward training in those early days helped me on the road to being a good rider. He described me then as a 'tidy rider' and I think it is a testament to his training that I have progressed in the fashion that I have. Thank you Andy.
The rest of the story:
Well I will continue to try to maintain a good level of skill on a daily basis. I will retest again in 3 or 4 years, maybe sooner if I feel I need to. I will try harder to be better at meeting up for regular social rides, you can't beat a day out with friends for a mutually beneficial day out.
I do adhere to the system as well as I can - remember we sacrifice everything for safety and ride for the best possible view at all times. I know I do my best riding early in the day. After a days work my brain is tired and my concentration is not what I would like it to be so I have a habit of taking it much easier on the way home giving myself precious extra seconds before executing manoeuvres.
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