April 2019 End-of-Month Ride

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    Stan Hathaway

    DSAR End-of-Month Ride April 2019.

    “Becoming a better rider”, Roadcraft Chapter 1.

    As David Pengelly had also done last year’s similarly themed ride we knew we would be challenged intellectually, and there would be a test to follow. This year we would again not be disappointed!

    David presented the group with the first double sided page and the change in body language was evident – exam time! Quickly scanning through the extraordinary well prepared handouts trying to identify which questions we could answer and quietly hoping we’d be lucky to be asked those we knew, David then relieved the tension by also providing the detailed answers! Additionally providing a feedback form which I hope you will all take time to complete – as it will provide an accurate self assessment on how we did as individuals in our ride, again reinforcing the theme “Becoming a better rider”.

    When leading a ride your are being “examined / assessed” by every other rider, being replaced by another when the Drop-Off System is used, being at the back as ride sweeper (something I haven’t done in a long time) gave me the opportunity to observe other riders, and indeed a few asked for me to observe their riding when the opportunity arose.

    The route was a mix of dual carriageway, A, B & unclassified roads with fast open bends and tightening closed bends broken down into 3 sectors where the weather may have slightly influenced the ride starting dry, becoming overcast with drizzle then noticeably colder and wetter before becoming dry again. How very different each of these 3 sectors felt!

    The 1st sector Tiverton to Bow (27.6 miles) was a very progressive, exciting and flowing ride where I was able to witness some Gold Standard riding. The 2nd sector (46.4 miles) was noticeably different, the pace slower and more subdued, the exceptions being Dan and Rob seemed to be acting as a tag team being used to mark every junction; do their bikes have “Warp Drive Mr Sulu”? After the very busy 2nd stop at Lifton Farm (Cornwall) some riders had to depart early due to other commitments. The final leg (51.9 miles) turned out more exciting than the 1st saving the best until last as they say; staggered closer formation, opening out and maintaining distance when appropriate and including our favourite road between Crediton and Bickleigh (or as David refers to it as the Toboggan Run!) and finishing off at out start point.

    So what did I learn?

    1. I expected the first sector to be a warm up enabling everyone to settle into the flow, the 2nd to be the excitement and the 3rd to see a little drop off in performance as we all got tired particularly as the mileage increased at each stage (notice how accurately David had plotted the route!). Yet the outcome was somewhat different. Were there other factors unbeknown to me affecting how some were riding? The weather; was there something in the food at the 1st stop? Human factors have a significant effect on the way we ride and are influenced by our ability to constantly assess our riding performance and ride within our own capabilities at all times even when riding within a group.
    2. Harley riders know how to block a roundabout when they are out on a group ride.

    Thanks to David for the exceptionally well prepared brief and route. I’m looking forward to the next one.


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