I first properly got the taste to ride a motorbike at the tender age of 19 in 1990 when, while working in a Swiss hotel near
the Swiss/Austrian/Italian border, I used to be a pillion passenger on occasional mountain ride-outs with my colleagues. That was a very good way to acquire the taste!
As an impoverished student at the time (violins, please), it sowed a seed, but that was as far as it went until 2002, when I finally took the plunge, passed my test, and started out with a trusty, pre-owned Yamaha Diversion 600. I put a lot of miles on that bike!
In 2008, working at a software company with a couple of other bikers, we dragged ourselves along to a Bikesafe weekend. I had a rubbish first day, but something clicked on the second day, my riding improved almost immediately, and made me think that there was something in this advanced riding malarkey.
However, it was only in early 2014 that I finally picked up the phone and got in contact with CWAM, and was initially invited along to a social evening. The welcome was apparent from the off and I then had some very enjoyable check rides,
where my observer really pushed me, with the mantra "I don't want you to just pass; I want you to pass well." Fortunately, his good work paid
off. I got the bug and realised that, like with everything else, we never stop learning.
After a while, taking part in the social side of the club, I decided that the next challenge was to become an observer and, having been signed off for that in early 2016, I've enjoyed helping other people to improve their riding since, all the time learning more myself. I also briefly flirted with the 'dark side' by joining the car group and doing the car test—mainly because I made it a condition that my daughter did the IAM course to drive the car on her own, and couldn't really ask her to do it if I wasn't prepared to do it myself.
I've ridden a Honda CBF 1000 since 2007—my first brand new bike, which has taken me around the European mainland a few times and up to visit family in Shetland, along with
several trips around the UK.
In addition to the petrol bike, I have the dubious honour of being the club's first electric motorbike man, having owned a Zero DSR 13.0, fully electric bike since June, 2016.
It's proving to be an interesting talking point, with reactions ranging from genuine interest in what is inevitably the future to ill-concealed disdain!
I'd been looking into electric vehicles for some time and took the plunge with a pre-owned, second generation Nissan LEAF in late 2014, which has been a great car. The next
logical step was to go electric on two wheels, but only in 2016 did I think that the bikes were really there.
So, invariably, I get lots of questions about the electric bike and EVs in general. To those who hear me being an EV bore - sorry! I'm not too big on the EV evangelism front,
but if people will ask…
There's no danger of rapid charging on the bikes getting close to the speed on cars though, so for the foreseeable future, I'll be keeping going on the old dinosaur juice for
lots of club ride-outs and those bigger trips I still love to do, when the very nice boss lady lets me! :-)