Moto Mates came about as the project in a leadership programme
that I (Will Hopkins
) have been undertaking for the last three months or so. The project is used as a vehicle to apply the distinctions learned within the programme.
Choose a Community that Means Something to You
I’m 52 and I've been riding for 10 years. We bought some helmets, as a laugh ‘cos they were cheap, at Motorcycle Live in 2007 and then the following March I booked a CBT for me & my girlfriend Angel. We turned up with those helmets and not much more. I think I had some skiing gloves and a puffer jacket & jeans, it pissed it down! Although I’d messed about on trail bikes as a teenager and had driven since I was 17, at the time Angel didn’t drive and had no road-sense. I was surprised that she “passed” her CBT after running a red light on one of the busiest crossroads in Gloucester, but she did.
Now, 10 years later motorcycling plays quite a big part in our lives as we both commute regularly and do semi-regular ride outs with the odd bigger trip thrown in. I took my IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) advanced test in 2009 and am a member of WHAM (Worcester & Hereford Advanced Motorcyclists). My eldest daughter also took to riding and was on ‘L’ plates on the same Varadero both Angel & I had ridden for a number of years before taking and passing her full ‘A’ licence.
Choose a Project to Make a Difference in Your Community
As a regular long-ish distance (110 miles a day) commuter rider I find myself often passing a Sainsbury’s Store in Gloucester and one particular day I was in my gear chatting to a guy at the kiosk. He was telling me about his twin nephews who had just completed their CBT out of necessity for travelling between Gloucester and Tewkesbury to new jobs (at the same place) and he was bemoaning the lack of post-CBT support as they were both quite nervous about making this journey. “They just wind ‘em and set ‘em loose!”
I gave him my card, asking him to pass it to his nephews with the offer of riding over to meet with them for a chat or a confidence ride. A couple of weeks later I followed up with him, as I’d heard nothing from them, and he said that they’d thanked me but they’d found someone where they worked that was a biker and had done exactly that. Spent some time with them, chatted and taken them out for a lunchtime ride to help boost their confidence. That weekend I had to choose my project. The name came easily!
Your Project Must be Too Large to Handle on Your Own
The idea behind the programme is that you put yourself outside of your normal comfort zone. Pushed to achieve more than you have done previously. Pushed to have to “enrol and engage” others to enable your chosen project. The project is not yours, it becomes the community’s and takes on a life outside of you. You are merely the catalyst, instigator to enabling others to make a difference in your community. You become committed but not attached.
Your Project Must Have a Date and Place
Having a fixed event means there is something to focus on and plan against. At first I couldn’t think of what – “my project is an ongoing programme, it doesn’t have a date and place”! No, that wasn’t good enough. “Phew, OK. Umm, I got it. I’ll nick something from WHAM’s calendar and put on a slow ride event and use it as a ‘Launch Event’!”
Moto Mates Launch Event
Many people have helped me with different aspects of Moto Mates. Graphic design, printing flyers, social media promotion, organisational advice, website & mailing list advice. I’ve held discussions and communications with individuals high up within the IAM. Spoken with the Police & Fire Service. Bike dealers and manufacturers. Biking celebrities. Politicians & the DSA (Driving Standards Agency). Local newspapers, TV & radio. National bike press. Some of these have produced results, some haven’t, but I have continued to be in action.
Finding the Venue
For the Moto Mates launch event I need to find a venue, sort insurance, organise the event and enlist helpers. As it turned out I discovered that the Arle Court Park & Ride car park was empty on Sundays. I found this out visiting the BMW dealership next door to promote Moto Mates – I happened to go on a Sunday and see this huge glorious empty space. I tracked down who was responsible for it (the Integrated Transport Unit in Gloucestershire County Council as it happens), enrolled the head of the ITU in just what a difference Moto Mates could make to the local motorcycling community and how GlosCC could contribute to making this difference, especially with a road safety event and easily got agreement. I chose Sunday June 10th because on my preferred date of the 17th there was the (local) Prescott Bike Festival which would draw away potential attendees. I just needed to arrange insurance and show my credentials so that they weren’t loaning it to a bloke off the street. Trouble is that’s just what I was, an ordinary bloke, just off the street! No worries, the IAM were prepared to give me a degree a backing and insurance can always be sorted.
Now to start approaching people I knew who could help me run such an event. The first guy I approached was an ex-work colleague I knew was a biker. Turned out he was a RoSPA tutor & blood biker. Turned out he was also one of the main organisers of the Prescott Bike Festival and so consequently though he like the idea wouldn’t have any capacity to get involved. Oh and also he was taking part in the local RoSPA Low Speed Skills event being held at Arle Court the week before!
We were double booked, for the same sort of event. Was this because we’d been speaking to different departments, different people? I’d gone “straight to the top”, but he was fairly new in post, maybe unaware of other departments handling things like this? Doesn’t matter, we were double booked. Long story short, I approached the organiser of the RoSPA event and together we turned a problem into an opportunity. RoSPA’s event was an open event, for any riders. I let them handle the logistics and insurance and Moto Mates provided additional “marketing”.
Will There be Others?
Though not a huge turnout, as a result of Moto Mates there were 24 attendees (not including tutors) whereas there were 8 of where there because of RoSPA, so a 200% increase in attendance!
But this is not the main reason behind Moto Mates. The launch event was a requirement of my leadership programme – albeit a great event, one where people both experienced and fresh got learn and practice some great handling skills with myself very much included in that.
I have been asked by others when is the next one, will there be an event locally to me? Well that wasn’t the plan, Moto Mates is intended as a buddy system, but maybe.