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Our director takes part in the Police Scotland Rider Refinement Course

July 12, 2022 2 Comments

I got into motorcycling a bit later than some as I did my CBT at the age of 19, living in the Glasgow the public transport was ok until I had two get two trains to get to my first job. After the trains being late so many times, I needed to get my own vehicle and the fact you could do your CBT in a day and then go and buy a bike was a win win.  

17 years later and I still believe it's one of the best decisions I have made I thought my riding was pretty decent, but I know I feel much more confident going into left handers than right, I tip the bike in that wee bit to early coming into right hand bends. Anyway, back on track, the reason for me taking the course is it can be hard to see what you are doing wrong when your concentrating on riding and I thought it was about time I got some advice and who better than the guys & girls that are on the bikes day in day out who get intense training. 


It was an early start to the day with a ride down to Dingwall, surprisingly cold with the sun just starting to burn off the Harr. Roads were quiet for the time of year but still some early rising motorhomes to contend with. Riding through the twists and turns of Garve I had the unpleasant experience of a bird strike which really did render all the cleaning I did on the bike the previous day pointless. 

Bird Strike On Route To Police Scotland Rider Refinement Course

The Tenere was full when I left Ullapool but thought best to fill up again as was not sure how many miles we would be covering, another £10 just to top the tank up when that's what used to cost to fill the tank, sad days indeed. On a positive the sun was up and it was hot, very hot. 


Arriving at the station i was welcomed by one of Scotland's finest and was great to see the variety of different bikes and riders that were here for the course. That is one of the things i love about biking is the range of different styles of bikes. 

The course started with a presentation on what we would be doing and what we should be looking for when are out on the road. Some key points that took from this was how to better understand how far in front you can see potential hazards and preparing yourself in advance. We were broken into smaller groups and assigned a police officer and we got Ross, there would also be an IAM observer going between the groups.  

Time to kit up and get on the bikes. 

Have to admit i felt a little bit nervous, got flashbacks of taking my motorcycle test when hearing Ross giving instructions on the headset on where to go. We started off with a demo run where Ross led us out of Dingwall while using what we went over in the class and putting it into practise while we were riding, calling out potential hazards, using the landscape to see where the road direction is going etc. 


After a quick stop and a check to see if everyone was good to go it was over to me to lead our group. Heading south down the A9 then onto a road route that I have never been down heading towards Cannich. What I found really interesting is how much that Ross was seeing that i was not, he was looking so far in advance while i was concentrating on what was in front of me. Ross commented on my positing being good but I was braking just before the bends when I could just be rolling off the throttle then back on it to keep the bike settled and taking his advice it did feel more smooth and controlled. 

Checking mirrors and seeing a police bike takes a bit of getting used to as what I found later on is Ross changes his position a lot while observing. 

A few miles on and the road started to get narrower and felt like we were in a tunnel with the vegetation. The road was quiet so making progress then round the next bend I found a cyclist struggling in the middle of the road lucky to be doing 5 mph and was a good lesson in itself not to panic and snatch the front brake. A few miles on and we pulled over for a quick debrief and to swap rider positions. I then went 2nd and had the IAM observer behind me and off went heading to Cannich. It was getting very warm in the textiles, very warm indeed. 

Following riders in front its easy to get sucked into doing just that and following them instead of concentrating on where you are meant to be in the road. What was interesting to see was Ross was changing his position for observing. After repeating the process so the three of us could get assessed we were back in Dingwall for a very much needed lunch break. Its hard work when its 26 degrees and your used to 15 degrees being a warm day. 

It was good time to chat to the guys and girls who were doing the course, another thing I love about biking is the social side, made many good friends over the years through the bike. Was interesting to speak to a Blood Biker from the east coast and his experiences over the years. If you don't know Blood Bikers, they are groups of volunteers that build a network that courier not just blood across the NHS free of charge, they do a bloody great job (excuse the pun). What was clear was there where many different people there with very different capabilities on the bike but they all had the same goal to advance their riding.

Time to top up the tank again, another £10 to Tesco. I am one of those tank is almost empty when its nearly full, I'm paranoid I'm going to run out as I've been caught out before. 


We switch up the positions again and i would be riding last this time and i was told this is a really good road, I had heard of it by a few guys on the east in the past but never manged to do it. Heading out of Dingwall and turning off the A9 onto the B9176 you feel like your right out in the country and a million miles away from the A9. The road is very good and great fun to ride, there are a few bends that could catch you out. Heading back back down you come to the viewpoint where we had our next stop and i managed to get a couple of photos, stunning views looking down to Bonar Bridge. 

Heading in a loop then coming back onto the B9176 to head back to Dingwall I got a some good classroom examples of what other roads could do, a car decided to pull out of junction when they should have seen me coming and then a teenager with headphones in and head down decided to walk across the road then jump back when he finally noticed me heading towards him. 


Back at the station we each had a chat privately with Ross who assessed us on the days riding and gave us constructive criticism on what we did well and what we could work on. 

Biggest thing I took away from the day is the feeling that I wish I never left it 17 years before doing something like this and now I'm seriously considering doing some advanced riding courses with IAM. 

Id like to thank Ross and the other officers and of course the IAM observer for their time and i would highly recommend that anyone who rides should consider it. 

Find out more about the https://www.scotland.police.uk/what-s-happening/news/2022/april/rider-refinement-north-2022/

2 Responses

Angus Carmichael
Angus Carmichael

March 20, 2023

I got myself on the first course, post lock downs, in May 2022 and would recommend it to everyone. You can never stop learning, and always refresh your skills and knowledge. I’ve been riding for 23 yrs, did direct access having never ridden a motorbike before. Had an afternoons extra tuition when I bought myself a Triumph 900 Sprint Sport 3 mths after passing the direct access, mainly because I was a bit “nervous” on corners. Before I moved to The West Coast of Scotland (Gairloch), I toured up here on various motorbikes, as well as doing the Swiss Alps, Bavaria, and Ireland at various times. I’m not a knee down, pants on fire type of rider, but I’m constantly aware that the 2 major factors in your own safety on the bike are 1. You …and 2. Other road users.
I found the course very useful. There were 3 in my group, along with Iain (the “assessor”, who happened to be the chief whizzbang for police bike & car training…a very young chief whizzbang!)
Riding “upfront” and receiving a running commentary on the road ahead & your riding was invaluable. There are not many times when you get followed, at speed, by a police motorcyclist, and don’t receive a ticket !
I found the spells riding in position 2 and 3 behind the lead candidate & police assessor just as informative (and a bit more “relaxing”). Watching someone else’s road position & hearing the police commentary, and thinking how you might of done it differently was quite interesting.
We didn’t have the sunshine warmth you did – Had a wet ride in from and back to Gairloch – but the rain held off whilst we were out on our observed rides.
I think the courses get booked up quickly … Take the plunge & get booked on. I think mine was £40 – included sandwiches, cakes, coffee & tea – as well as all the tuition. A bargain if there ever was one….and it just might save your life.


August 22, 2022

Very encouraging I’ve been biking for years & have done many trips around Europe, still wanting to live the dream of riding around the globe 🌎 the only thing that has hindered this is funds ! I need to get around this , develop a new prospective!
Many thanks,


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