As the Instructors, Launch Crew, riders, family, supported and onlookers arrived at Castle Combe, there was an air of expectation, apprehension and excitement. It was the final Bike Experience of 2011, and we were going to have four riders for the first time.
The riders came from a range of backgrounds and experience. From the south, east, west and north they had travelled, all of whom were looking forward to chance to ride around a race track and achieve what many think is impossible.
Having developed the Level 1 paddock training throughout the season, all riders grew in confidence as they negotiated the coned outer course and inner slalom course which develops slow speed riding skills and clutch control.
The rain from the morning eased and the surface began to dry out. The track would still be damp in areas, but it wouldn’t be as slippery as it could have been. With Level 1 complete and the track briefing over, it was time for all the riders to get on their bikes and get ready to head out onto the race track.
For the first time out, the entire group is led around the course by Talan, with the other instructors placing themselves between the students and ensuring everyone is following the line and coping with the conditions. After three laps the group returned to the pit lane and each student rider was paired with an instructor for one-on-one instruction for the remainder of the hour.
From the pit wall, the launch crew and families were able to see their rider grow in confidence, control, smoothness and speed as they passed the start/finish straight, dived into Folly and headed off along the Avon Rise to Quarry corner. Folly is a very fast and bumpy right hand turn, with some TT testing teams reaching 160mph around it. One of the student riders managed 130mph on his last lap, so that gives you an idea of what can be achieved in a short space of time.
It was a ‘fantastic four’ that finished the Bike Experience’s 2011 season. The growth from one rider to four in just seven months is a truly amazing and goes to show that there is always a way to overcome the odds.
What are the final numbers I hear you say?? – Well, we had a total of: 14 TBE riding events, attended by 26 different riders, giving us a total of 41 allocated slots, all of which were helped by 7 Instructors and 50 Launch Crew. There are already 25 riders wanting to come for their first or second visit in 2012.
Members of TBE have also attended 5 events to promote the charity, written articles have been in 3 motorcycle publications, 5 newspapers, featured on ITV Westcountry news, the facebook page has nearly 400 followers and there are links with numerous motorcycle forums.
As far as bikes go, we have used the following adapted bikes: 3x SV650, 1x GSXR 600 SRAD, 1x GSXR750, 1x CBR 954 RR, 1x Aprillia RSVR. All the bikes, apart from the CBR, and all the adaptations have been sourced and paid for by Talan, not the charity, as the charity is still getting off the ground and has no real funds. However, award applications have been submitted for the 2012 season, as we have made real changes to peoples lives and this needs to be recognized and the work needs to carry on.
We look forward to an even more successful 2012 season. Please keep us in your minds throughout the winter and if you can help, let us know. We thank all our sponsors, supporters, friends and family for making this happen. You are the ones that are allowing disabled riders to realize a dream and change their lives forever.