Ride to Arrive (2007/10)

Bike Safe weekend with the Avon & Somerset Constabulary (A&SC).
Many weeks ago as a new associate member I went out on my first club ride with Paul as leader and Lillian was back maker. Lillian had just completed the Ride to Arrive course and told us of her week-end. That evening I contacted Alan Culshaw and we applied for the September course.
We set off nice and early at 1400 on Friday 21 September and had a most enjoyable ride, with stops, up the A36, by-passing Bath, Bristol and arriving at A&SC HQ at just after 1800 at Portishead. 
We were given a very warm welcome and the check in was arranged down to the last detail along with a goody bag containing a R2A bright yellow bib, Badge, torch, bits and bobs. We were shown to our accommodation, which was comfortable and most adequate. Once settled in we returned to reception where we were given a bag meal, which was more than I could eat but Alan true to form scuppered the lot. Next was a very professional and humorous welcome/introduction presentation by the team of PCs and this set the tone for the weekend. We all then headed to the hole in the wall bar to get to know the staff and our fellow course members. May I add that the banter continued throughout the week-end and was enjoyed by all.
The lectures on Saturday morning were based on the police ‘roadcraft’ system of riding and to some of the course was new and hard work but as SAM members we already had this information and were familiar with most of what was discussed.  Four hours of sitting in a lecture room was hard and lunch was a welcome break.
At 1300 sharp we were paired off and introduced to our observer PC Phil Scull who showed Rob and I the route we would be taking. Phil led us out onto the open road and I was then to lead to lead the three of us over into Wales. Even after some 45 years of riding and being observed by John Goodson on a few occasion this was still a strange and nervous situation to be in having a policeman on a police bike tail your every move. We need not have worried as Phil with his cool and calm manner soon had us relaxing and enjoying our ride out. Every 40 minutes or so we would debrief and change round. After some 123 miles we arrived back at HQ at about 1750 complete the debrief and were in plenty of time for a shower and tea.
Next on the agenda was an excellent demonstration of slow riding and those of us who wanted to have a go did. Dark fell and it was off to the bar to exchange our day’s experiences.
I spoke to several other course members and everyone expressed how professional their observer was and how much they had enjoyed their day.
Sunday morning we were back on the road for another 4 hours observation arriving back at HQ having covered some 115 miles. The 3 of us met up for lunch and debrief and chat. Phil was on duty that evening so we thanked him time etc and said our goodbyes. On Saturday I told Phil of my intention to take the IAM green badge and asked if he could let me know on Sunday how I would do. After the ride on Sunday we discussed this and he said opinion he would not have passed me on the Saturday but would have on my last ride on Sunday. To this I was well pleased and his opinion of the IAMs approach to the test relating to speed, which he thought was not best practise.
I had never been to Wales on a bike and in one weekend I crossed the boarder 6 times wetting my appetite for another visit to enjoy the breath taking views without the pressure of a cop following.
Now it was time to clear our rooms, return keys/badge and back in the lecture room for a presentation by a paramedic.  This was followed by course wash up and presentation of certificate. Judging the applause it was obvious that everyone had had a most enjoyable wee-end.
The course consisted of 30 students supported by 13 volunteer PC of which 2 had travelled up from Devon. We had goodies, food, accommodation and excellent tuition and all for £95.00p.
Interested in a course next year then log on to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
John Hardman

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