New Rider, New Bike, And New To GBMCC
- Is it ok I’m a learner?
- Is it ok I’m only on CBT licence?
- Is it ok I’ve never done a ride out before?
- Is it ok I’m new to bikes?
- Is it ok I don’t know the area?
- Is it ok it is a 125cc?
- Is it ok I’m a learner?
- Is it ok I’m only on CBT licence?
- Is it ok........!!!
Well you get the picture, but imagine it being asked ten times over to various committee members. Well I did, and thankfully the GBMCC chaps didn’t even show the slightest irritation. The guys in the GBMCC are professional (both the Area Reps and the general members) and they know how daunting it can be for a new rider and new person to the club, so are more understanding, helpful, patient, and reassuring, than one could hope.
At the beginning of April 2017 the time came for my first ride out.
Trepidation, the nervous anticipation, made for a wonderful feeling of excitement. So, to the rendezvous, which was 10:30hrs at a small lakeside café just outside Stowmarket near Ipswich.
My riding hadn’t been too bad over the Friday and Saturday, I’d been putting into practice advice GBMCC members had given me on line, with my down gear changing, and it was going good. I was hoping the Sunday ride out would flow as well. Ok so I had a little bottom clench, brow sweat moment, on the way to the meeting point, well in fact almost at the meeting point. The entrance to the lakeside was on a side road which was itself just around a sharp left hand corner. So me taking this corner wasn’t in itself too fast, if indeed I was going straight on once around the corner, but literally as I got around the corner was the junction immediately on my right. I was going too fast for a left straight into a right, not enough time to change down the gears or brake fully even, so with nothing oncoming I just had to clutch in, swing to the right and hope I could make it. Not quite a knee down but perhaps a bit tighter than I’d of liked! Perhaps next time I will take the corners slower and if I miss time a junction, ride further on, turn round safely, and come back.
Despite my unintentional wanabee TT episode, I pulled in to the café area to see two members already there, so I coasted in next to them and not long after, other members started to arrive too. I was surprised and heartened how many members had come from so far afield. But that’s the beauty of the club, we are not members of just a county, but a national club, and members can attend any ride out, anywhere in the country they so choose, we are GBMCC members.
The meeting was a relaxed affair. Some folk had ridden a long way and before we all set off again it was important that everyone could relax, unwind, catch up with their old friends and meet new ones, and of course plenty of time for tea and a full breakfast.
Once everyone was ready it was time for the brief. I wont go into detail as the clubs rules on group riding are on here, and I personally think they are very good, even better was seeing them put into good practice too. I’d never been on a group ride out before, only once had a work friend offered to take me out. His level of experience, more powerful bike and no experience of leading a group ride out, meant he spent most of the time shooting far ahead, zipping in and out of lanes on the dual carriage way. I felt so much pressure to try and keep up that I made so many mistakes, not his fault, but it was at a level far beyond my capability.
So I thought it may be the same this time. How wrong I was, and how far ahead of the game these GBMCC chaps are. I thought as newest, slowest and inexperienced rider I’d be bringing up the rear, forever feeling the pressure to catch up.
Quite the opposite, John Lanndin already had everything well in hand. A s he was the point man and the guy who knew our route, he wanted me directly behind him. So the newbie on the 125 was right up front with the route leader. For us newbies you may think it would be more pressure, I did too, but in fact it was the opposite, and reduced the amount of pressure I felt.
By being upfront John could keep an eye on me so to speak, I set the pace for the group in a way (convoy drills) and I didn’t have to be in a panic at lights / junctions in case the convoy got split and I couldn’t catch up. I didn’t have to watch fourteen bikes in front of me, I could just focus on Johns.
From Stowmarket we headed to a place called Woodbridge, a quaint seaside town. We had a five minute stop on the way to leg stretch and for John to check everyone was ok, speeds ok, bikes ok etc. The route was country lanes, so a lot more involved than your plain straight dual carriageway. Once we got to Woodbridge it was café and lunch with cold drinks as John had also planned great weather, it was not a spring day, but a summers day. Glorious biking weather. From Woodbridge it was down the coast to Felixstowe docks for tea and cake at a café. A chance to unwind and chat bikes. Before we all headed home.
There’s no sense me describing every twist and turn on the roads, one has to experience it, live it, to understand the joys of group riding. My words will not do it justice and every individual has different experiences and likes. But for me it was great to share the experience with a group of fellow bikers. I work away and many a time I get on my bike, go for a ride and want to stay out for hours and hours on my bike I love it so much. But I end up coming back. I pass loads of riders whilst I’m out, obviously with their friends or in their respective groups, and so often I want to enjoy the ride with my fellow bikers and chat about the thrills of riding.
Stopping off on ones own at the costcutter on the way back, picking up a pint of milk and trying to chat gear changes, biking routes and bike styles to the checkout lady is not quite the same as chatting amongst ones peers. Bless her though, she always nods politely in just the right places. I do enjoy the odd solo ride don’t get me wrong, and after a hard day at work a blast out for an hour on the bike can be so relaxing. On the group riding with the GBMCC, members where chatting techniques with me and certainly if I can put into practice their advice I will be a better rider for it. The ride out alone helped me massively and more like that can only increase my skills and confidence.
So to any new biker who is like myself also new to the GBMCC, I think we have joined one of the most enjoyable and professional biking organisations in the UK. My little Honda CBR125R did me so proud that day and held its own amongst the biguns. Also its fuel economy is superb. So now I have no worries about me and my bike joining in on many more GBMCC ride outs.
Safe and joyous riding folks.
Sunday, 2 April 2017