I started my biking life on a beach in Morecambe Bay as a five year old on a monkey bike and have never been without a bike since that day. No surprise then that from the day I joined the police force as a cadet my only goal in life was to become a police motorcyclist.
The second I finished my two year probation I began pushing hard to get my first course. At that time there were three levels of course, standard, intermediate and advanced. Each course was three weeks long and involved theory exams, obstacle courses and road riding with numerous stage assessments and a final one hour test ride. You have to pass every stage to progress to the next level and all tests had a pass mark of 80%.
Standard involved basically town work on small (200 and 250cc) machines. It purely focused on introduction to “The System” and all speed limits had to be adhered to.
Intermediate (otherwise known as a conversion course) got you on full sized police patrol bikes and open road work up to 80mph. The emphasis being on absolute accuracy and ability to read roads at speed, cornering skills and sublime machine control.
Advanced put you on the fastest bikes in the force with emphasis on total safety, overtaking skills and maximum progress. There was NO upper speed limit and if you didn’t reach the maximum safe speed for the road conditions and machine you ride you would fail, if however you exceeded the maximum safe speed, you failed. No pressure there then? Advanced grade was further split into two grades, Grade One and Grade Two.
Obviously Grade One was the top grade albeit both one and two could drive and ride the same machinery. The difference was that a Grade One could supervise an Intermediate grade driver driving a high powered traffic car whereas a two couldn’t. More crucially you had to be a Grade One to start an instructors course. Much kudos was attached to a grade, to prove this ask a police rider what grade he holds? If he is a “ONE” he will puff his chest out and proudly announce “GRADE ONE”, if he is a grade two he will say “Advanced”
I was no more than a few hours into my first bike course when I realised that the best job on the planet was not to be a police rider but to be the Instructor of police riders. His job appeared to be to challenge students with the best roads in the country, go anywhere he wanted so long as he could get back in eight hours, have all his running costs covered AND be legally exempt from speed limits ONLY for training purposes!
Having decided upon this career path and attained a grade one on cars and bikes as a start point I now had to complete the instructor’s course. This was a six week course for cars followed by a six week course for the bikes. The course involved drives/rides which always had to be grade one level, pursuit training, instructional training, route planning, written exams, obstacle courses and commentary driving. Lesson preparation and classroom delivery sessions also formed a large part of the course. Off road driving was completed with Land Rover (obviously) and off-road motorcycling with Geraint Jones (multiple British enduro champion) on the Yamaha off-road school.
I can honestly say that one of the proudest moments in my life, let alone my police career, was leading my first crew of bike students out onto public roads. You can now access this knowledge if you open your mind to advanced training and join us on a ride out.