Tim’s Tips – July 2015

At our recent Observer’s Meeting I set the rather pointless challenge of asking the observers how many worded triangular warning signs they could think of. The answers were verified by the usual DVSA sources and the Traffic Signs Manual. I gave them ‘Ford’ as an example and challenged them to recall four more – can you get them all?

Just to prove that some signs are not in any textbook I found the one on the right near Wigan!Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.57.56

On a more serious note I notice that one of the top ten reasons for learner drivers failing the basic DVSA driving test is poor observation at junctions. This is also an area where experienced drivers can become complacent.

Recent campaigns to THINK BIKE remind us to do just that, but making sure that we do this in practice is another matter. I particularly remember, when I was training to be an ADI, our trainer teaching us to make sure that our pupils really looked down the kerb to the right when emerging at junctions: a moped zipping along in the gutter towards us could easily be missed if one simply glanced along the road.

In fact, we really need to look twice to gauge the speed of approaching vehicles, but doing this can invite the driver behind to run into the back of you if the junction or roundabout you are approaching appears to have an open view. The driver behind is likely to be looking to his or her right to try to emerge, and will expect the lead vehicle to emerge promptly. If the lead vehicle pauses for a second while its driver takes a second glance to the right, the following vehicle might run into the back of it while the following driver is still looking right. It takes some skill to balance the need for thorough observation with ‘controlling’ the driver behind. Perhaps we are most vulnerable at the junctions we use most regularly, where familiarity can overcome our normal information-searching skills.

I also notice that some drivers turning left from a major road into a narrow minor road swing in over the centre (hazard) line in the minor road. This will commonly be because they are travelling too fast or do not steer their vehicle effectively, or both.

It’s good to check junction routines from time to time as bad habits can creep in and catch us out!

I wish you all safe and fun driving in the month ahead.
Tim Hawkins – Chief Observer (Car)
Four signs: ‘Try your brakes’, ‘Cattle Grid’, ‘Flood’ and ‘Gate’

Come and ROAR with the IAM team

Be part of our IAM Ride-out and Rally 2015, 11 July, National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull

The first ever IAM Ride-out and Rally Motorcycle Festival will take place this Saturday, 11 July, at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. It will be a celebration of all things motorcycle, including the skills of those who ride them. Find out more at www.iam.org.uk/homecoming.

Tickets are just £10 if pre-booked (pillions free), and include an IAM-only tour of the world’s finest and largest motorcycle museum, packed full of classic machines. To book individual places online, visit www.iam.org.uk/homecoming or call 0300 303 1134.

You can join an informal IAM group ride-out to the Festival by turning up from around 8 am onwards at any of the following locations:

  • Lyn’s Raven Café, A41/A49 junction, Prees Heath, Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 2AF.
  • Jack’s Café (A5), Watling Street, Towcester, Northamptonshire NN12 8ET.
  • Donington Park Services (M1), Castle Donington, Derby, East Midlands DE74 2TN.
  • H-Café, Oxford Road, Dorchester, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 7LY.

28th June Ride Out Report

It was with some degree of trepidation that five of us set out from Barthomley Services at 10:15 on 28th June. The roads were wet and we’d had a number of dropouts for that reason who’d indicated that their enthusiasm for a days riding had been dampened (literally?).

Present and correct were Dave(1200RT), Graham(Blackbird), John (MT-07), Matt(Z1000) and Steve(800GS).

The wet start made for a brilliant opportunity to practice our advanced skills as we headed to the roads of North Wales via a reasonably straightforward route to the Ponderosa Café on the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen. The promise of nicer weather looked remote at best.

Despite operating the second man drop off system, a phantom mechanical issue for Steve’s 800GS on the dual-carriageway section of the A483 near Wrexham saw the group split with Graham and John heading onwards towards the Ponderosa, Matt waiting on the exit slip of the 483 for the ‘reliable’ BMWs of Steve and Dave. Having agreed that if we did get split up we’d meet up at the Café everyone got back on bikes and headed towards the Horseshoe Pass. By blind luck we met up again at the cross roads of the A525 and B5430 which was extremely fortunate as Graham had a detour planned via the A5104 – a beautiful piece of road and in keeping with what he had in store for the group following lunch. Pasties, Pies, Fish and Chips at the Ponderosa Café were excellent as usual, the weather was still cold and wet and the car park was far from busy.

The trip up to Abergele took us via some of the most spectacular scenery and roads that North Wales, and arguably the UK, has to offer. The weather was getting warmer and brighter the further North we travelled and by the time we arrived at Abergele it really was ice cream weather.


The sun stayed our and roads remained dry for our trip back for an intended stop for tea and cake at Corwen. One look at the queue at the Rhug Farm Shop convinced the group that in a toss up between having tea and cake or missing out on a pint back at the White Lion there was only ever going to be one winner. A unanimous decision.

We arrived at said 16th Century public house at about 6pm, still in blazing sunshine and had a well deserved drink after a 250-ish mile day.

Awards are maybe something left for another ride to be agreed on by the group afterwards but from this writers perspective:

Most improved rider – John (so much more fluid by the end of the day)

Dodgiest Overtake – Anonymous (there may have been a solid white line involved)

Nearest Miss – Matt (pulled out on by an elderly occupant of a red Ford Focus and definitely would have ended in tears he thought, had it happened prior to preparing for his advanced test)

Least reliable bike – 800GS (although Steve maintains that it didn’t really break down….)

A brilliant ride with a great group of people. Next ride is planned for 26th July, all are welcome and if you’d like to join us then get in touch.

June Motorcycle Rideout

The June CAM ride out is this Sunday 28th and you’re invited to, meet with us in Barthomley at 10.15am to move off shortly thereafter.

The intended route is to ride out to the Ponderosa Cafe, near Llangollen, for brunch, then onto Corwen and then Abergele promenade by a circuitous route for an ice-cream. The return journey will be via Llanrwst, Bala, Llangollen, Ellesmere and Whitchurch, finishing the ride at the White Lion pub, Barthomley, for a well earned pint.

If you haven’t been on any social rides, we can assure yothat you’ll really enjoy the day and will be able to develop and hone those advanced riding skills, as those who attended a number of ride outs in 2014 can testify! Don’t be hesitant, give it go. The ride out is structured and planned so everyone rides within their ‘comfort zone’; the group stays together and allows the practice/development of motorcycling skills. Riders who currently aren’t members of CAM to our social ride outs are all welcome, register via our Events page to confirm your attendance.