I passed my advanced test – just

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    Chris Beale
    Chris Beale

    I passed my advanced test last week at the second attempt. I could breathe a sigh of relief and relegate my handbook to the shelf of other stuff that I never look at but this doesn’t feel like a pass, in fact it feels like a warning.
    For the most part the reason I joined BAM was because I have led a charmed life. I thought it was time to refresh my skills and perhaps lengthen my odds of survival. I began riding at 15 and, with only a few short gaps, I’ve been riding for almost 50 years. I’m still riding 15k miles a year now, so I guess I must have covered half a million miles on my bikes. I fell off only once aged 22 after a Nantucket sleigh ride on a tank slapping Yamaha RD350. Braking from 80 to standstill using only my arse was an experience I would not want to repeat.
    With a wealth of bad habits and controversial opinions I began the BAM Associate training process earlier this year and found it challenging. My first ride was torn to shreds by my observer, in fact he ran out of space in my log book. One after another my observed rides failed to meet with approval, however the comments were consistent.
    ‘You can clearly ride a bike, but you are not doing it our way’.
    At first I felt miffed, but that quickly turned to frustration as my log book filled with twos and threes. After six months it wasn’t really improving, but I put in for my test anyway and failed. Crikey, if I’m that bad, why didn’t I come to grief years ago? I almost gave up, but a rather bluntly spoken examiner embarrassed me into a retest. At the second attempt I passed, but mostly with twos and with a long list of criticisms.
    I feel far more concerned about my riding now than I did before I joined BAM. Back then I thought that I would be polishing my skills, but now I’m having to rethink. That can be an issue in itself, as very quick decisions need to be taken on the road and now I find myself analysing each move I make.
    Then is the System safer? Absolutely, but only after it has become second nature, unchallenged by habit and opinion. That’s why repeated briefings and reiteration of skills is so important. It’s the same reason that airline pilots travelling as passengers always watch the safety briefing whilst tourists read their magazines. They know the rules better than anyone, but they also know that the last piece of information they absorb can increase their chance of survival.
    My test pass wasn’t great, but it’s been my introduction to becoming a safer rider. If you are a new associate my advice is take the criticism and use it wisely, because you are not as good as you think you are.

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