It wasn't long ago when professional rider training was a virtual unknown in New Zealand. Even learners had to do it by trial and error, with the odd bit of advice from friends and rellies.
Such was the landscape when Lynne and Andrew became the first Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Test Examiners in 2002. They have been running their business for over 18 years.
For Lynne, it ran in the family. Her parents were members of UK-based IAM. For Andrew, the love of technical riding ran deep, with an interest in trials and motorcycle gymkhanas. It occurred to them that they could make a business out of something that had started as a passion.
Would it fly?
Back then, starting a rider training organisation was an uncertain business. The unproven market, lack of established training programmes and no local model to learn from were just a few of the obstacles.
But the couple reached out far and wide to learn from others’ experience and find opportunities. There were coaching stints in the BRONZ mentoring programme. BRONZ brought over the Stay Upright course of track-based training from Australia and the couple assisted with their track based training courses around 1995. They gained a succession of qualifications and soon offered training options from learner to advanced.
It was a leap of faith, but one that was steadily rewarded as a succession of organisations sought out the couple’s expertise. Groups like Tasman District Council and Ulysses started in 2004. ACC have been off and on for quite a long period of time and NZ Post had Lynne and Andrew on contract to improve riders’ skills and safety. By the time NZ Police and Army were on the client list, the focus was on ‘training the trainers’ and helping the organisations build their own expertise.
A growing reputation
With such a preeminent position in NZ rider training, it was only natural that Ride Forever approached Lynne and Andrew, not only to deliver courses but in developing the training syllabus.
Today, they juggle parenting four children with time on the road to deliver training. For Ride Forever they cover from Tauranga to the West Coast of the South Island. It occupies the bulk of Andrew’s time, around 60%, while Lynne spends a similar amount on licence testing.
Their company, Roadsafe, offers other courses in Wellington, ranging from bike maintenance and suspension set-up to off-road skills and teaching kids to ride. Their expertise continues to be sought out by government agencies, councils and motorcycle organisations nationwide. The couple has played a part in everything from helping design the Basic Handling Skills test to aspects of the new rider licensing regime.
Rapid, smooth, consistent, safe
It’s a busy life, and not one you’d take on without being motivated. For Lynne and Andrew, the passion for riding has never dimmed. Nor has the drive to help others get more pleasure out of riding and stay safe. “It’s always a challenge,” says Lynne, “because it’s always a new person. You need to see where that person is at with their riding so you can help them improve.” The biggest buzz? “When you see the smile on someone’s face. The excitement, knowing you’re part of their journey. Especially when somebody gets in touch to say the skills they learned helped them avoid a crash. That it potentially saved their life.”
And the rewards keep coming. Andrew emphasises how the training helps people overcome fear and anxiety, leading to a higher level of riding confidence: “Once people know how their bike works and exactly how to control it, the anxiety levels drop. The pleasure–which is why you want to ride–increases. What we do is clear a path for people to learn.” Is there a risk of overconfidence? “You see it less and less nowadays,” says Andrew. “And apparent overconfidence is usually just a mask for nervousness and fear. It’s why some people don't come on training courses. They’re fearful of being judged. But that’s not what we’re about. We’re about removing fear, reducing anxiety and so increasing the fun and enjoyment.”
The couple’s approach is based on the principles of Roadcraft, and also include countering negativity. “It’s about putting the positive back in motorcycling,’ says Andrew. “There is a better way of doing it. Hence the system we use, of Roadcraft: rapid, smooth, consistent and safe.”
Along the way, Andrew has owned 84 motorcycles (including 29 riding school bikes) with a Triumph Trophy 1200, recently taking its place in the garage. It'll join four others: his Trials, Enduro and Motocross bikes along with a Honda CB500X used for the bulk of instructing duties along with the Trophy 1200.
One of their most telling stories concerns a recent trainee who’d been riding since the 1970s. His mates couldn't understand why he’d signed up for training after so much experience. But he did it, and emailed Lynne after the course. “He said he learned heaps,” says Lynne. “Including the fact he’d been taking corners all wrong for 39 years.”
Lynne and Andrew are some of the true originals in New Zealand rider training. If you’re in the top of the South, or the lower half of the North Island, they could be training you.
Book yourself in for a full day’s expert tuition, from just $20.