Q: Which site did you train with RJH and how was your experience in terms of facilities and treatment on arrival?
A: I trained with Rob at the original Congleton site back in early 2011. I’d been press ganged into agreeing to do the publicity photo’s for a group of cyclists from the British Army who were doing a charity ride from London To Venice…. a few to many sherbets at the regimental Christmas do and before I knew it I’d agreed to do it on a motorbike despite never having ridden. Turning up for that 1st session with Rob was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’d done….. but I had nothing to worry about. Rob was one of the most chilled, patient, laid back blokes I’d come across….. he had a real talent for de-mystifying everything bike related and giving me confidence to just crack on. They had all the gear I needed to just turn up, get kitted out and jump on a bike. I sat on the 125cc, set off around the industrial estate and grinned like a kid in a pasty shop….. although with the size of me I’m not sure the bike felt the same way. The whole RJH experience was fantastic with the organisation of the training / tests, the bikes, kit, style of instruction and the main man himself, Rob.
Q: How many miles have you covered since passing the test?
A: Not sure but within a week of passing my test the Venice trip saw me do around 1,900 miles …. proper baptism of fire going over some of those alpine passes but loved it. Overall, the past 10 years have probably seen me cover in excess of 50,000 or so, all still with a silly grin on my face. Most of my riding is solo and I do lots of day/weekend trips anywhere I can find hills / moors and open spaces. I have at least one week away every year with my cousin and a mate; we’ve done most of Scotland and Wales, spent time in Ireland and had a trip across to Germany. Three years ago I took part in my first Ride To The Wall along with approx 5,000 other bikes; we’re a family of bikers who raise money to support the National Memorial Arboretum and ride en masse there every October. This year I’ll ride in convoy to the NMA with around 700 bikes from Sheffield….. it’ll be a bit noisy!
Q: Have you implemented new techniques whilst learning with RJH?
A: Basically everything I know about riding I was lucky to learn from Rob…. now knowing other instructors and hearing what some other riders went through with some dodgy set ups I’m so grateful I landed at RJH. I genuinely can still hear Rob in my head when I approach a roundabout telling me not to change gear halfway round the roundabout… (I did once during training, stalled, not good). The main thing I took from Rob was the need for me to take responsibility for my riding, not rely on other road users to not knock me off….. focus on my own risk perception / awareness and defensive riding. I was also lucky that my next door neighbour was a retired bike cop and he took me out a few times and introduced me to Police Roadcraft techniques.
Q: What’s the furthest distance you’ve travelled since passing?
A: I did two trips following the army cyclists; London to Venice and London to Monaco so at around 2,000 miles each those trips were the longest. I know plenty of others who’ve ridden silly miles in a day but the longest single day’s ride I’ve done would have been the 440 miles-ish from Cheshire to north of Fort William for one of the NC500 trip’s we did.
Q: What’s your favourite motorbike? And/or is there one you have your eyes on?
A: Being a mid-life crisis biker I’ve got almost no back-history of bikes and not the greatest breadth of biking knowledge. My first bike was a Y plate BMW R850R; liked the look of it, it was shaft driven so it felt ‘easier’ for a mechanical dimwit like me and my bike cop neighbour took it for a spin and gave it a thumbs up. Since then I’ve gone through three BMW R1200 RT’s, not found anything yet that betters them for what i like. It’s super comfy, plenty fast, nimble enough to get thrown around the twisty’s with good luggage for trips away and huge weather protection…… that said, my favourite looking bike at the mo has to be the Rocket 3 GT.
Q: Setting goals is important as it gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation – have you set yourself any for the future?
A: Beyond keeping riding until I shuffle off this mortal coil, not too much. I’m never going to go beyond the boundaries of Western Europe on a bike trip, so pretty much more of the same from what I’ve done this p[ast 10 years.
Q: Favorite Instructor?
A: Rob was my only instructor but I’m sure he was the best anyway…!