Sunday, 19 April 2009

TVAM Social Run

The third Sunday of every month sees the members of Thames Vale Advanced Motorcyclists meeting in Wokingham. Today there were several hundred at the venue, and the sun was shining. Most of these members are going through advanced training under the advice and supervision of "Observers" who have been through the training themsleves, then have trained as observers to pass on their skills. Some of us choose not to become observers, in my case because I am just too busy, but still remain members because there are other thing going on (like the trip to Nurburgring). So after meeting and having a cup of tea, there is usually a ride out called a "social run". This one covered 80 miles of Berkshire and Oxfordshire countryside over a couple of hours, with a two stops in a lay-by to re-group and chat. In order to stay together and not get lost as the inevitable gaps open up between us, we have a system of markers, where the run leader points out to the person immediately behind him a spot to stay still and guide the rest of the group. The marker stays there until the back marker arrives and waves him on. Now the person who was just behind the run leader is with the back marker, until the next marker is picked up. So any particular rider may end up marking the way one or two times, depending on numbers. On this run, there were 60 of us, so I only marked once. From Wokingham, we went through Henley, Benson, Lewknor and Didcot, with a view to finsihing with lunch in Milton. I left the group between Didcot and Milton, as I was very near home at this point. It was a brilliant ride, in some places, with some excellent fast roads, sweeping bends with good visibility. Plenty of chances for careful overtakes and other manoeuvres that we had all been coached in before passing our advanced tests. But on the downside, Oxfordshire County Council have installed low speed limits and overtaking prohibitions on nearly all of their country lanes, making the whole thing a bit pointless for long stretches. It was interesting seeing how these excessive prohibitions seemed to frustrate a lot of drivers, expecially car drivers, who would then take more risks than normal, rendering these so-called safety measures somewhat counter-productive. They get ever so close to the back of someone who is driving along at 50 mph. After parting from the group, I headed home and stopped for a few minutes at Fox's Diner, about 16 miles North of my home, where there must have been a thousand bikes gathered at this bikers' café. There was a disco on the back of a lorry trailer, and dozens of fancy show bikes. The motorcycle accessory shop, M&P, was open next to the café and there were all sorts of people milling around, chatting about bikes and their exploits. It was interesting seeing such a large group of bikers of all kinds. After having a few bikey conversations, I finally headed home for a late lunch. What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

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Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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