To start off with we ducked over to Tairua, and I just felt rusty, bit slow as well which is just my normal response to not being in the groove. A stop at Tairua, with a café treat by Geoff saw us getting back into it with a much better flow. In all fairness, with the benefit of being able to look back from a few weeks later, that bout of orchitis knocked me about much more than I'd realised at the time of this ride.
The benefit of being on the Coro loop on a Wednesday is traffic of course. A couple of other groups of riders, but no sense of that weekend crowd that is common during the summer months. The open road is always a good tonic, and along with my own sense of improvement, I really enjoyed this outing. The commentary had a better flow to it, still needs a lot of work I'll admit, but it felt much less of a chore than previous outings. The way Geoff commented at some point, my riding standard was high whilst delivering commentary, so in a sense the commentary was now less of a distraction on my riding.
We did encounter some slower traffic, so this became an opportunity for restrained overtaking. The trundle thru Whitianga in this respect seemed oh so tedious, albeit providing a brief urban environment, so just allowing for that on-going polishing of skills. Talking about on-going, that's very much how I've seen this IAM journey from the start, not as a singular target but as a continual improvement challenge/opportunity.
The journey to date has been taken in small steps. It's obvious Geoff takes great delight in riding as well as coaching/mentoring guys like myself. For me to see the improvement in my riding is bewildering, the mental approach has been polished and the physical action of extreme positioning makes bend swinging more fun than ever, just to touch on one aspect.
Anyway, Geoff led the way over the last half hour or so, taking us over the saddle before Coromandel itself. Needless to say, the obligatory stop at the lookout over the town itself resulted in a photo opportunity.
How we managed not to rib the IAM fraternity with yet another weekday ride posts just shows our restraint huh?
The hospitality shown by Geoff and Jenny to invite this rogue biker to lunch at their abode was delightful. Awesome retirement spot they've got, with an outlook that would cost a fortune in many European countries. I get the sense that Geoff and I could talk for hours about many different topics, but get us going on bikes and anything engineering related...hope I left before my welcome wore out!
My run home along the coast reminded me yet again of the effort Geoff puts into his role with IAM, that run along the coast is not exactly easy. I've done it plenty of times with a fuel truck in the early 2000's to fill the BP (now a GAS) servo at Coromandel, but on a bike it's obviously a lot more fun.
Encountered one of the groups of riders we'd seen at the Tairua café stop, and here I'll share an interesting observation. Now bear in mind I've not been along that particular bit of road for years on a bike, and here this group of riders used power/speed on the straights to catch up, only for me to walk away from them whenever we had more than one corner. I wasn't doing anything different to normal, just riding my own ride, and the fact I was cornering using correct positioning made my pace seem high. They didn't like obeying 50-70 speed limits though, so I kept left to allow them to scoot past at ticket inducing speeds. Their progress did seem to slow around bends further up ahead though... I remember thinking to myself something along the lines of: "That's how I used to ride as well."
Make of this what you wish. I see it as IAM exposure being a positive influence.
Now I've got some homework to do following this ride, some test examples to complete before the next ride and to practice my list of things to improve on.
PS. One thing I'll add, work related as well as IAM related, is at my last assessment drive had a wee chat with our driver trainer about my IAM activities. This kind of came about at a comment he made about me seeming more fluent and relaxed than normal, bearing in mind I thought of myself as fluent and relaxed behind the wheel of a truck anyway. The word "situational awareness" and how it looked to him that mine had improved, led to us having a chat about what IAM is all about. Have followed up and provided him with some links to have a closer look at IAM, he's an English fella anyway so the advanced driving approach is not foreign to him. Be interesting to see what comes of this...