John Tipper

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Current Bike(s): KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, Triumph 1200 Explorer, Honda CBF 1000A

Fantasy Bike: Vincent Black Shadow

Preferred road/area to ride in the UK and Overseas: Any scenic area free of traffic. UK: Cotswolds, North Wales and Highlands of Scotland. Overseas, there are so many great places to ride: Cote d’Or, Route of Grand Alps, Route Napoleon and Pyrenees in France, Schwarzwald and Bavaria in Germany and Dolomites in Italy.

Age when you first rode a bike and what bike was it: I was fifteen on a Kieft scooter handed down from my father. It had a 200cc two-stroke engine, light green and cream; not my colours so I re-sprayed it black.

When and why did you develop an interest in riding a bike: From my very first ride, I loved the freedom of two wheels and got a real buzz when accelerating out of corners. My 1954 Velocette 350 Mac was down on power when compared with my mates’ British classics; Venom 500, Vincent Norton (featherbed), Road Rocket, 500 Goldie and 650 Bonnie, on the straights they left me but I could keep up in the corners. I was in awe of these bikes but couldn’t afford one. Many bikes and many years later, my KTM Super Duke GT sets my pulse racing proving I’ve not lost my passion for riding.

Aside family members, who would you like as a riding companion: I enjoy riding with those who know what they are doing; you can soon tell if they don’t.

Reasons behind becoming an EAMG Observer: Having ridden for years on both road and track, I considered myself to be a competent rider, until 1992 when I attended a dealer open-day. Thinking we’d be let loose on a bike of choice, we left in convoy led by a rider dressed in black leather. The 30 limit seemed endless then off he went like a bullet out of a gun. I gave chase only to find myself braking hard into the next 30. His brake light isn’t working! I must remember to inform the dealership when we return. Prepared for the next ‘National’, I was with him this time. Flowing through the bends looked effortless, for him that is! I’m wrestling with my bike but loosing ground. Later, on a switch back, he’s flowing past traffic timing his overtakes perfectly while I’m on the brakes, throttle, then brakes again, playing catch-up. Still no brake lights! On our return, naively, I commented, “you’ve ridden a bike before”. He didn’t reply. Repeating my question, “Come on, you’ve done some serious bike riding”. I’m a “Met Police Instructor at Hendon” came the reply. “Do you run courses,” I asked enthusiastically. “We do but we’re fully booked at the moment”. “Here’s my business card, please let me know when you’ve got a space”. I waited eighteen months before joining a two-day course with Dave Bruguier and Ian Kerr. For me, this course was a ‘blinkers off’ moment I’ll never forget. I went on to pass the IAM test, my examiner being Malcolm Avery who invited me to join EAMG.

Having joined as a Full Member, I never experienced the Observer / Associate induction but after a couple of years, Chris Reed, Chairman at the time, invited me to become an Observer. Paul Roberts was my examiner; I passed in September 1995 being assigned my first Associate shortly after. December 1995 saw my first RoSPA Gold.

During EAMG’s IAM era, riding ability was the only measure tested to qualify as an Observer, teaching ability never being assessed. Passing my RoSPA retest in 1998, my examiner informed me about the introduction of RoSPA’s Diploma course, four days based at their HQ in Edgbaston covering: observing, briefing, debriefing, giving a presentation, a written test on Highway Code and Roadcraft plus riding ability including scenarios. I achieved my Diploma in August 1998, a first for EAMG.

Scariest or most embarrassing moment on your bike: Confession time! After a great ride to Sleaford, on my way to a track day at Cadwell Park, I stopped overnight for an early morning start. At seven in the morning, the A17 was pretty much deserted so I was making good progress with not a care in the world. I was on the junction when I realised this was my turning so I took it, assuming it had a reasonable stopping distance for a junction. Not so! I was facing Armco and a 90 degree left-hander, oh s**t, and hit the brakes. If anyone tells you an emergency stop is a calm, gradual increase in brake pressure, it isn’t. My back wheel was in the air; I lost a great deal of speed before loosing the front. I found myself sliding across a small triangle of grass coming to rest on the slip road back towards the A17 within 2 meters of the Armco barrier. I distinctly remember thinking how can this grass be so wet, it’s summer, must be morning dew! Walking back picking up the bits of my ZX9 scattered everywhere, the gouge I made in the grass had missed the road sign by about a meter. This was truly my lucky day; needless to say, I never reached Cadwell Park but a valuable lesson learnt! Plan ahead and never relax your concentration.

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