March 2023 End of Month Training Ride

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    David Pengelly

    Hoping to see you there.

    We are starting at the Costa Coffee at the top of Haldon Hill on the A38.

    I’m looking forward to riding the planned route at least.

    David Pengelly

    Report by Stan Hathaway

    Ride theme – Cornering

    RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders – Devon and Somerset Advanced Riders met up in Haldon Hill, Exeter for the End-of-Month training ride, with the theme being cornering.

    The first challenge was getting to the meeting location for those approaching from the north as the emergency services had closed off the A38 just as the M5 ends, meaning a lengthy diversion or taking the unclassified back lanes.

    Finally getting everyone together, our club Chair David Pengelly, opened the session with the question “What do we need to consider when cornering?”

    A broad flurry of answers followed including the key one – Your processing starts as soon as you see the road is going to bend, so I challenged the riders to answer using “The System” and have a systematic approach to hazard evaluation:


    • What you can see – How tight is the bend, how far does it extend? Gaining clues from hedge lines, other vehicles, domestic dwellings (anticipating driveways joining the road). Although many of the roads we would be travelling on were too narrow to have paint and warning signs. Note telegraph poles are not a good indicator as they often cross fields.

    • What you cannot see – What hidden hazards are there? High hedges hiding approaching traffic, (consider the use of your horn to warn others of your presence!)

    • What you can reasonably expect to happen – Those riders arriving from the north having already experienced narrow lanes due to the earlier road closure had a head start: Cyclists, horse riders, local traffic (knowing the rat runs) diverted holiday traffic whose navigation sources (sat-nav / partner with a map) had failed in maintaining accurate location. Encountering newly deposited mud from farm vehicles.

    • Being able to position to gain greatest advantage for View – what you can see, and Visibility – can others see you? The distance you can see to be clear – often as short as 15m
    • Stability – this would become a very important factor on our ride, all being very restricted in what we could do. The narrow country lanes, often with mud, potholes and debris down the centreline meant picking one car track and staying in it. This identified potential compromises for View and Visibility, allied with the odd branch or two which had been caught by previous traffic
    • Safety – the primary safety message of “Be able to stop safely, in control, on your side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear” takes on a new meaning on single track roads also means the approaching traffic is sharing that narrow road, therefore your stopping distance is already halved as you consider both vehicle’s closing speed!


    • Being able to stop safely… meant our road speed was often well below the posted speed limit. Approaching traffic, as mentioned earlier also contributed to our decision making.
    • Too slow meant being unstable, too fast meant being unsafe.


    • Most agreed for the most part they were only ever in 2nd or 3rd gear
    • One individual commented on ensuring your waterproofs were sealed up correctly to prevent embarrassing ingress in strategic positions!


    • Gently does it!
    • The discussion prior to the ride included the tyre grip trade-off between braking and cornering and the very fine line between just below that limit and it all going wrong, some of us had previous experience of wheel slip in muddy conditions and ending up on the ground! Add in the fact the mud and other debris acted as a lubricant on the roadway ensured acceleration and deceleration was very smooth.

    Not all roads were so narrow you could touch both side hedges at the same time, many were unexplored gems heading towards Roadford Lake, Cornwall and a couple of stops for coffee and cake enabled the discussions to continue. The return loop back to Exeter Services also proved to be a great ride, and the rain held off too. As ride sweeper, I enjoyed the view of all our riders demonstrating a flowing, proficient ride considering all the fixed, moving, and environmental hazards we encountered.

    However, it was noticeable some riders found the continuing high levels of concentration required to maintain that very high standard a challenge realising the way to improve is to train hard, and by our return to Exeter Services everyone had agreed the day was top notch. There was a downside of course – all the bikes were the same shade of brown; cleaning gear will be required when we get home!

    Parking near the electric vehicle (EV) charging points we were able to witness an unintended consequence of the migration to volt power. Petrol Station Etiquette – we have a well proven system where we enter by one end, chose which lane, and fill up in turn, pay and leave. Clearly there is no such etiquette for EV charging points. As we stopped near the new banks of charging points it was shocking to see the bad behaviour of those waiting and trying to identify who was, or was not next in-turn from 3 different approaches, one person resorted to standing in a newly freed-up space with her new-born infant in her arms. The chaotic layout exacerbated the driver’s frustration as EV were blocking the exit route from the service area. I’m sure this will spark a topic of conversation later.

    Stan Hathaway
    Advanced Tutor
    RoSPA Dip

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