Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2013 - 2014...... What did Advancedbiker do in 2013 ?

Well I thought I might just take some time to review 2013 and before I start I must thank all my clients, friends, subscribers and followers who have made the year a one to  remember.

As 2012 drew to a close, I thought it would give me some time to plan and review my Advanced Training, but no......   A couple of emails came in enquiring about training in 2013, one from Spain and one from Holland.

So it was a matter of arranging flights, ferries and motorcycles.... BUT !

I thought it may be a good idea to look at investing in these new 'fangled' cameras.  Those Go Pro ones....  I could take one over with me to Spain at the end of January...   So after some investigation on the tinternet and some feedback from Russ at Roadcraft Nottingham, the deed was done....

A brand new Drift Hd camera from Action Cameras arrived and at first it appeared strange to use.  I was used to the old Sony Camcorder, wiring it into the BMW R1200GS electrics and then recording the footage onto cassette tapes.  Then process them as DVD's.........  I found a way to mount the camera so it was a matter of waiting till the end of January and off to sunny Spain.

I must say Facebook is a great invention as I managed to make contact with an old work colleague who live in Orba, Spain, within one hours ride from the clients in Spain. Now what about a motorcycle ?


Well I mentioned hiring one, but when he said I could use his Honda Blackbird, I said yes, so the search was on for flights and accommodation.

The next issue was the logistics......What to take, radio's helmet camera etc....Would it all fit in my luggage with all my kit.   In the end I paid for Hold luggage, but wore my motorcycle jacket and motorcycle boots...

The date was set....Thursday 24th January 2013, flying out of Manchester Airport,UK to Alicante in Spain.  Transfer arranged in Spain and enroute to my lodging a Chinese meal...

Day One Friday 25th January 2013 - Awoke to clear blue skies, and a warm 20 degrees........  My mate Glyn a fellow BMW R1200GS owner took me on pillion to our meeting point in Benidorm and at just before mid day we all met up.  First issue.......Johan had only one other motorcycloe a Suzuki SV 1000 and thought he and his wife Sharon could take turns riding that, whilst I had the Blackbird.
PLAN B -  Why not arranged for whoever was not riding the Suzuki to ride pillion with me on the Blackbird, so in that we way we could head out inot the hills and cover more miles.....  So it was all arranged....
Where do we go......?
Bit out of my comfort zone here and suggesting to Johan to pick a route, while I ride a motorcycle cycle I had never ridden before with a pillion I did not know........  Well it all worked out as we headed into the hills above Orxeta, bend, after bend, after bend.........until we got to.....

Guadalest for our first debrief and change of rider..............  I had to do the English think and wear my neck scarf on my head, to protect it from the afternoon sun.

After a lazy coffee stop it was debrief time and a big decision on where to go for dinner.......

It was off to - 

Restaurant El Riu next to the Historical Automobile Museum "Vall de Guadalest" in the Guadalest valley between Callosa and Guadalest.......  For a light lunch..........

After a mini banquet it was back to Orxeta and end of day one......  What a great day and two more to come........



Day 2.  Saturday 26th January 2013

Another sunny start for me and Glyn, but a bit a shock for one of us.  There are actually two 7.30's in the day. (Please note Glyn)
The run to Orchette our start point was about a hour away, so we took the coast road, the N332, but soon found out that the strong winds had returned and it made riding interesting. Especially when we nearly got blown of our feet at the toll booth......

Great news when we got to Johan and Sharon's house, another motorcycle had arrived.  A smart Kawasaki that Sharon was interested in buying.   So we all had motorcycles for the day, me on the Blackbird and Johan on his Suzuki. 

A quick cup of tea to start the day and a chat over a route, which took in less bends, so they could be assessed on planning for bends more.  It was decided that we would return to the N322 and head for Alicante along the coast, stopping for fuel at El Campello before heading in land.  Sharon did the honors and lead and she found some great 'twisties'.......
After a great session we ended up for a break at a well visited motorcycle stop at Venta Terassa on the cv 800.


  
The weather  was fine and I had'nt brought my new HD Drift camera 800 miles, not to use it,so I had a go, first at the cafe and then helmet mounted.....  

The road we were on the CV800 enventually lead to Alcoy, but after the cafe stop, we still had a fair bit of climbing, now with Johan leading, before we stopped to admire the view further up...

 Then it was on to lunch, well Tapas near to Alcoy and then a big 'loop' north towards Xativa, Gandia and Pego back to Orba.

Another great day, great company, great weather, great roads and great progress made

Our route


 Time to relax before the last day of assessing......
  
Saturday  night was at Restaurant Paraiso, Parcent.












The start of another day, the wind has dropped and the temperatures at 9am in the morning, yes 9am (Glyn) are staring to rise......

This morning another rider is coming along for the experience.

Today I wanted to look at Sharon and Johan on simliar roads to the ones we used on day two, so I suggested the same route to dinner and then return back to the coast.

In the short time I had been with both riders, I had seen progress in terms of a greater awareness of their riding environment and most of all getting them away from the theoretical side of Advanced Riding - Roadcraft.  It is all right reading about it, but putting it into practice in a practical way is another matter.
The biggest thing that sticks out when doing this assessing in positioning for bends........ The majority of riders plan quite effectively for one bend, BUT if you have your view WHY ?  During this course we focused on forward planning, one bend to the next and as Johan said, 'Knitting them together', so in otherwords trying to keep the motorcycle stable as much as possible and that means upright.

The roads we went on were smooth, no potholes and although twisty, made the riders more aware of the importance of planning for the next bend, in otherwords formulating the 'Riding Plan'.  When this is addedd to the mix and then we add the right speed, and then right gear with the right amount of throttle - BALANCE, WE start to get CONTROL.

Forgot to mention enjoyment when it all comes together.
We had regular debriefs as like everything these best laid plans fail....

I took my Tribe radio to pair upto the riders Scala Bluetooth systems, but the Autocom system I took failed to work, despite having new batteries fitted.

Must have been the heat, hence no commentary on the video footage.....


What happened at the end of the day....Well we had to find a beach front cafe for a debrief.......
What do I think of Spain as a training venue ?

I had my reservations as I  did not know what to expect as you come to an an area, and when you are told Benidorm, you think British Holiday makers, package tours etc......  Well we never even went into the place (Just saw the sky line) and instead was introduced to the beautiful countryside around from Javea in the north down towards Alicante.  The are some good open type roads further in land, but the roads we chose, although very twisty, worked.  Why  - because it developed rider awareness, forward planning, control and confidence, without the aspect of speed,  As a training area, IT WORKED FOR ME.
My thanks to Johan and Sharon for having the faith in asking me over and Glyn and Christine my hosts....                                                     
AND......I even put some footage on Youtube:

Arrived back in the United Kingdom to a very cold February and another email from a potential client from Malta !   


Several emails were exchanged and arrangements made for a 5 day course at the beginning of April.  Where was I going to meet the client...... Cardiff, why not, so I travelled down to the local BMW dealer where he had arranged a hire motorcycle - BMW R1200GS.  He was waiting for his new BMW R1200GS LC.  We both travelled back to North Staffordshire, where he stayed at Chapel Croft Bed and Breakfast.  Despite the cold, we had good dry roads for the course and explored the Peak District and North Wales.


At the end of the course I took him back to Cardiff.

So what next........

Back to normality for a couple of weeks before heading out to Normandy for our Annual Advanced Training Workshop........
Well the organisation for it started for it way back in the Autumn of 2012, when I had to make sure we had the accommodation available for a group of nine motorcyclists.  Managed to get this sorted, so the next task advertise the trip on the web site and also for the first time on Facebook, where I attracted two riders from London.
Now just a matter of waiting for the ferry times to come out and booking the crossing from Portsmouth to Caen with Brittany Ferries

All the deposits for the ferry and the training in, time for the off.  Well perhaps not that easy......  Do some planning as the riders were coming from Preston, Doncaster, Biddulph, Burton, Tewkesbury, Peterborough and London.  I circulated times to the ferry and having picked up Kevin, Dave, Andy and Clinton enroute down the M6, M5, M40 and A34 we met up with Alison, Sue, Eva-Maria and Barry at Portsmouth.  We all had an uneventful ride down, dry weather and some sun and once in through the booking kiosks, I got a little wound up by the way we were treated by the customs.  We were searched for wait for it, ammunition, guns and knives......  I appreciated they have a job to do, but I ask you.....
Well on the Ferry ;  

The Normandie Express, all motorcycle secured and the up to the resevered lounge for the reclining seats.  Long crossing - 5 hours ish, but a welcome break having just done 240 miles to the ferry port.  I thought of using the Eurotunnel, and then driving down....Works out about the same time, but you are using more fuel and the wear and tear on the motorcycles.  Any way time to get aquainted and admire the sea view..... Well NOT quite - Sea mist all the way across and as we landed in Normandy at 21.30 hrs local time, it was dark and the sea mist had turned to FOG.
We only had a sort 30 minute run to the bed and breakfast, so Sat Nav on and off we went with me leading.  I was very happy I had the Sat Nav as it gave me an idea of where the road went and on occasions had to follow the centre white line.  It was that bad.
Arrived at Adrian's and Karen's to be met with a fantastic buffet, before we headed off to bed ready for the next day's riding.
Day Two to follow.
Well after  a sound sleep and not hearing the church bells, down for breakfast and then out on the road for 10am.  Do you ever get one of those feelings that is going to be one of those days.......Well the Sat Nav packed up, had a mind of it's own....Switching between screens, freezing, you name it, it did it, then no power in the Drift HD camera.  Could job I had the old reliable Sony Camcorder and bullet cameras working, and five other motorcycles fitted with Drift HD cameras.....
Down to business - Not a good day for the weather, bit wet, but we are in Normandy and a few spots of rain was not going to spoil the day.
Just needed to decide on the running order and route, as my Sat Nav had all the routes.......Back to basics and memory:

Get the old maps out and hopefully I could remember roughly where we were heading...

Decided to head into  Bayeux for fuel and then head off along the D5 towards le Molay-Littry where we could stop for coffee and a debrief.

Organising the 9 riders:
Alison and Sue with me, with Alison being the first rider of the group.
Dave was with Kevin
Andy or as we got to know him as Dave, Dave, don't ask with Eva -Maria and Barry
Leaving Clinton as 'Tail end Charlie'
The D5 is a good road to just get you used to riding in France and Alison did well, with only a few minor issues which we discussed later.  The biggest thing, which never occurred to me before was the added pressure of being lead rider in a group of experienced riders.
Well the rain came down a bit more so we took longer than normal at the first stop before Sue had her turn in front as we headed for St Lo.  The roads were not that good in terms of rural dirt and the motorcycles looked a bit messy afterwards......

We made it so St Lo and the rain stopped, so I lead the group to our dinner stop in the quaint town of Villedieu-les-Poeles.  We use a cafe by the side of the church and treated ourselves to a sandwich, French style.  That big they gave you jaw ache.....

General chit chat at the dinner stop, everyone in good spirits and a lot of conversation about the riding etc......

Just to point out at this stage that all the riders on the Workshop had ether ridden with me before and some had gone on the gain advanced grades from the I.A.M and R.O.S.P.A. Other had had been on Bikesafe.  So the standard of riding was not basic and the general issues amongst the group was:
  1. Lack of observation in depth
  2. Being in CAR mode
  3. Balancing the motorcycle on the bends - CONTROL
The next part of the day was going to test their skills as we headed out on the D999 to Brecey, before turning east and heading along the D911 to Sourdeval.  This road has been on Youtube many times and used by me on numerous occasions.  It is a good surfaced road with good stretches between villages and hardly any traffic.

 
This is some footage from the trip

Once again Alison was the lead motorcycle and when we reached Sourdeval I decided to head North to Vire for a well deserved break in the town square by the old clock tower.  We had enough training for the day, so on the way back to Arromanches I took the group to see the gun battery at Longues s.Mer.

A great first day, progress seen in all the riders, another two days to go, just hope for some better weather......

Thought of the day - It is always great to have a reliable HOST, as I had forgot all about the evening meal.  I need not have worried as Karen had got it all sorted. - We had taken advantage of the offer of an evening meal at the bed and breakfast. Thanks Karen.

After the meal, it all became a bit technical with lap top, tablets, I Pads coming out from nowhere as the days camera footage was played back to the riders.  I tried to repair my Sat Nav, in otherwords take the battery out....Still did not work.....  Maps again for tomorrows run...

Having got back to the United Kingdom very pleased to get a write up in Motorcycle News....
Wednesday 22nd May - this weeks Motorcycle News, ( MCN ) and we are in it, pages 38 and 39.  A feature on the trip we did to Normandy in April 2013.  I will be getting a clearer version in a couple of days and will post that as well.
Thanks for mentioning Karen and Adrian at Normandybeach :www.normandybeach.co.uk and
Brittany Ferries : www.brittany-ferries.co.uk

In the meantime, Thank You Alison Silcox for the article:


Towards the end of April this year I received an email, followed up with a message on Google + from a rider from South Africa who was coming over to the United Kingdom in May and then going onto South Wales in June before flying back home.  He was going to visit friends near to Cardiff, which was ideal, as I knew where he could hire a motorcycle for the day.  Arrangements were made, further e-mails exchanged and a date and time fixed.
So On Thursday 6th June 2013, an early start for me, on the road for 6.30am for a 3 hours ride for me to get to Cardiff to meet the client at the BMW dealership, in Cardiff.  I arrived 10 minutes late due to traffic problems on the approach to Cardiff and upon arrival at Rider BMW, I was met by the client.

I recognised him through his photographs on Google +
Once the paperwork was done, we have a chat before we set off.   What did we chat about, well his previous riding history and what he was looking for out the days assessment/training.

On the roads with the new BMW F800GS ....



I managed to get out of Cardiff and stopped on the road out towards the M4 to turn the cameras on, then it was the turn of the  client.  A short ride in front onto the M4 before heading north on the A roads through Pontypool to Abergaveny.
After a debrief at Abergaveny I did a short demonstration ride in front with commentary, before he was given the opportunity to ride in front again:

After Wales......End of June brings the trip to Holland....A weekend of Advanced Training....... What a fantastic experience, which started with the overnight ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland with Stenaline.  I met up with the client at the ferry and we managed to get a days riding in.  On the second day we combined our interest in World War Two and visited the Airbourne Museum, at Hartenstein. On the last day a leisure day at a local wildlife area to do some photography before heading back for the Sunday night ferry........ Before heading for the ferry visited Steenbergen the final resting place of Guy Gibson (Dambuster).

Another gentle cruise back to the United Kingdom, arriving early morning, so headed over to Rivenhall, an old airfield associated with my Uncle Ern - World War Two, he was a rear gunner in a Stirling bomber, 295 Squadron.

That was it for my international travels..........  But not  for the increased number of clients during the riding season and my decision to invest in a second Drift Hd camera - The Ghost version...
For a number of years now I have been using an onboard video system on my motorcycle to record all the training  I do. The set up has relied on bullet cameras and a very reliable Sony Camcorder with AV in.  

Unfortunately as things progress it is getting harder to get the Sony camcorders and the market is being flooded with these HD cameras which record onto to disc.  

Well this year 2013 I invested in a Drift HD 1080 Camera and ended up using the same mountings I use for me Bullet cameras.  The very reliable 3 M Dual Lock Tape. 

I know everyone seems to be using Go Pro's, but I am very impressed with the Drift Hd camera as it is very easy to use and I cam add commentary to it via my Autocom and the Any Griffiths GIZMO 2  Well I saw an offer I could not refuse the other day on the Action Cameras website, so went and bought an additional camera - The Drift HD Ghost.........  What really impresses my about the Ghost is the Wi Fi connection and yesterday whilst having a play, found you can alter setting etc via either your phone, tablet or I Pad.  You can preview the shot and remote record from the devices........  The other thing for me is a step up from the Drift Hd 1080 is the remote now has flashing lights which tell you when it is recording...
It is work in progress, just hope we get some decent weather in the United Kingdom to try it out......
Well the system seemed to work, so now looking at split screen editing for 2014 and also continuing to provide clients with instant feedback with USB Flash Drives.....

That seems to be it for now, a good year, met some great people,forged some great friendships and got support from Bikerz, Motul and Graphix.

Roll on 2014..........
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