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IAM LogoIt has been 2 years since I passed my Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists test, having brought their Skills for Life Package.
I am still a fully paid up member of both the IAM and my local group, called Solent Advanced Motorcyclists (SAM).

I guess I soon realised that the natural progression was to take my Observer’s advice and become an Observer my self.

I regularly attend SAM Sundays, where both members and the public are invited to turn up and get taken out for an observed ride.
The main reason I go is that they do a great egg, bacon and black pudding roll, and a cup of coffee, all at a very reasonable price.
I suppose that once I have qualified as an Observer, I will doing observed rides, rather than sitting about munching yummy butties.
I also attend many of the events when we go out with our Mobile Display Unit, to chat to the public. I enjoy being there as someone who is not what could be considered as your typical IAM “pipe and slipper” rider.
Oddly, it seems to exclude me from publicity shots, but who cares? At the end of the day, I just want to pass on what I have learnt to make my rider safer and more fun to a wider audience.
Generally it seems to be working, as we are getting more and more younger riders joining up and more and more riders who already put many miles a year on their bike(s).
It also helps that Road Safety Partnerships are running schemes to encourage people to sign up.
Portsmouth City Council ran one recently, where they were subsidising the cost of The Skills for Life Package, and membership of your local IAM group, leaving the payable amount as about £63. A saving of just over £100.

Each local IAM group will have its own rules to becoming an Observer.
In the case of SAM, you are supposed to have been a full member for a set time, undertaken their “Advanced Plus” course, accumulated 10 hours working with a Senior Observer, with your own Associate, and undertaken a one and a half hour check ride, with a Senior Observer. Finally, there is two multliple choice papers covering the Highway Code, Road Signs, and Roadcraft, with a total of around 160 questions.

So, why would anyone want to do it? Why am I doing it?
Since I went through the course, my ride has become a lot less “hurried”, the whole thing just seems a lot smoother and calmer.
In a way, I can compare it to Neo in the Matrix. You see everything in a slightly different way and almost react to things before they have even happened.
If I could just pass on some of that feeling or experience then I would be a happy person.
Of course, it also means that I get to ride out quite often, and the Associate is expected to make a contribution to your costs.
Under 40 miles is £10, and over is $15. It is not a great deal of money, and does not cover your running costs but does help cover petrol.
All in all, it is a great feeling, and you get a lot of satisfaction.

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