I was fully aware of the risks involved in getting back on a bike
I had been off a bike for some years but decided that having retired the possibility of reliving my youth, Sunday rides with friends and bypassing some of the gridlocked traffic here on the Isle of Wight was too good to miss.
Having purchased the bike and clothing I thought long and hard about some form of training. I am a retired Police Officer, I served for thirty-five years and during that time had numerous driving courses but never on bikes. I also ran a department that had staff within it responsible for reducing road casualties.
I was fully aware of the risks involved in getting back on a bike and the benefits some form of training would give. However, there was a cost involved and I had already blown the budget on the bike. Taking that first step was also, surprisingly, a little in-timidating. The other option was going out with mates, some of whom are qualified Police riders but taking criticism, no matter how well meaning, from a mate can be problematic.
Real mix of ages and abilities
I made a few calls locally and eventually spoke to Paul Spreadbury at Pit Stop Motorcycle Training in Newport on the Isle of Wight. I explained my situation, his attitude was very positive, he offered a free assessment and then explained the DVSA Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS )which I hadn’t heard of before, but it sounded exactly what I needed, and a date was fixed.
On arrival everyone was friendly and I immediately realised that I needn’t have worried about being the ‘newbie’ or ‘numpty’ or that I was too old for that matter. There was a real mix of ages and abilities at the centre, both male and female. The atmosphere was friendly and there was a real ‘can do’ positive feel, everyone was there to learn.
I could feel my confidence grow
On that first day I had a one-to-one on road assessment and the opportunity to safely practice low speed manoeuvres and emergency stops – something I knew I needed. After the ride I was given feedback, which was pitched just right, some of it was positive but areas were highlighted where I could make improvements and I was given solid advice around how to make those improvements. This was followed by a second session which followed the same format.
The final session was a two-hour test ride, which I passed. Being assessed for two hours sounds daunting and it is tiring but you soon get into the flow of the ride, after-wards there is a further debrief and the certificate.
I would highly recommend ERS. Getting back on a bike was something I wanted to do but I quickly realised that I did not have the confidence I had in my younger days. This translated into a stilted and apprehensive riding style which increased the risk to both me and others. I had been self-taught in my youth, no bike training at all, it wasn’t around then so basic things like the advice I received around using the back brake at slow manoeuvring speeds, junction approach speeds and the opportunity to practice emergency stops were invaluable.
Over the course of the sessions I could feel my confidence grow which translated into a more fluid riding style and consequently less apprehension and increased enjoyment.
No substitute for the real-time hands-on training
On reflection the decision to go for the training was the right one, having the trained assessor giving that feedback is potentially a lifesaver and far more effective than relying on the advice of friends no matter how well meaning it might be, the assessor is objective, professional and knows what to look for. The learning curve doesn’t stop though, and I am now looking at the BikeSafe course as a further opportunity to learn, receive valuable advice and the opportunity to be signposted on for further advanced motorcycle training
In summary I would say that ERS has been the single most beneficial ‘product that I have purchased for my motorcycle – in terms of safety, confidence building and enhancing the enjoyment of being back out on a bike. There is no substitute for the real-time hands-on training and advice you get from the trainers on this course.
There is also a spin off which I hadn’t expected and that is the introduction that ERS has given me to the biking community in my area, which is also what bikes are about.
Retired Police Officer
Now working part time for the Blue Lamp Trust.
Returned to biking, recently traded Aprilia Pegaso 660 factory for new Triumph Bonnieville T100