BACKGROUND TO THE COURSE: The Survival: SKILLS two-day course is our original advanced course, which has been run since 1997, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting an out-dated course. As an independent school, Survival Skills has been able to draw on the best teachings not only from the UK, but also from the USA and Australia, and like all our training courses, the Survival: SKILLS course has developed as new understanding and updated in line with the latest research and developments in safety training. Uniquely. Survival Skills applies the latest understanding of the No Surprise? No Accident! rider safety initiative which identifies SURPRISE! as a serious proble. Once a rider is SURPRISED! by an unexpected event, it’s the trigger for a series of unplanned reactions (freezing, panic and target fixation are three) which in turn are the cause of many avoidable crashes.
Conventional training fails to prepare us to avoid SURPRISE! In fact, it tends to lead us towards the belief that if we do all the right things nothing can go wrong – it’s why the police manual ‘Motorcycle Roadcraft’ warns against over-confidence following advanced training. By contrast, what underpins all Survival Skills training is my own courier experience in the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ where I learned first-hand about the consequences of making mistakes. Based on that experience, it’s my firm belief that once we have reasonable competency, it’s not higher levels of ‘technical skills’ or the ability to ‘make progress’ that makes for better – and safer – riders. Instead, it’s our ability to predict what might go wrong and avoid SURPRISE! We need to understand just how, where and why all road users – ourselves included – make mistakes and crash, because it’s only when we fully understand how crashes happen that we gain the ability to predict errors, gain a genuine understanding of the risks of riding and develop an ability to avoid SURPRISE! and to stay out of trouble.
This understanding of what goes wrong and an appreciation of ‘risk’ rather than ‘safety’ is based in on an approach known as ‘insight training’, and by adopting it Survival Skills courses mirror safety training in other industries, particularly pilot training. Insight is what allows us to apply realistic risk assessment and risk management techniques effectively.
The Survival: SKILLS two day course offers an all-round approach to applying insight training in a wide variety of different environments. We’ll work on developing your hazard identification and and risk assessment skills in urban, fast roads and rural riding environments. We’ll look at fast dual carriageways and how riders get into trouble on those, in town we’ll examine the risks at junctions and develop strategies to avoid common collisions, whilst on rural roads we’ll dissect the common cornering errors. We’ll also spend some off-road time working on slow control and emergency avoidance techniques. The Survival: SKILLS two day course thus offers a fully balanced syllabus:
Defensive Skills – in each case, you’ll learn how to spot the warning signs, and the techniques that avoid getting into trouble. In particular, in all riding situations we’ll show you how to avoid being SURPRISED!
Machine Control Skills – this part of the course covers steering, throttle and braking skills, emergency techniques and slow speed control in detail.
Cornering Skills – exploring the best way to ride a variety of bends, including comparing slow vs quick steering technique, braking/gears/throttle technique, positioning for view and safety, and lines using a system of ‘reference points’ to give you a way to map your inputs to any corner. Putting it all together will give you a comprehensive approach to deal with bends effectively and avoid the common cornering frights.
Courses use a building block approach to learn core skills, avoiding the risk of teaching a skill which demands prior knowledge of some other technique, a problem that can arise during unstructured training. At the same time, courses are flexible enough that the depth and content can be adjusted to take into account the prior knowledge and ability of the trainee, thus moving forward at the right pace to be challenging to all abilities. You are not locked into a rigid course which may be inappropriate to your own riding standard – you won’t get bored or pushed too fast.
ABOUT THE COURSE: Every course begins before you start. Even before you book, we’ll offer free advice on which course is best suited to your needs via email or telephone. When you have booked your course, we’ll provide comprehensive briefing notes (including links to useful videos to help illustrate points in the notes) about both the content of the course itself, and how the course will be conducted on the day(s) so you have a clear idea of what’s to come.
Each day’s practical training session lasts approximately five hours, and includes a pre-ride briefing, a lunch break and a post-ride debrief. You will find other schools offering longer sessions but our experience is that five hours is about the maximum that trainees can cope with before getting tired. Time is used constructively and intensely, and most people find that it’s actually long enough – in our experience longer sessions are counter-productive. We’re also aware that trainees have to ride to us and then get home again.
We’ll follow up the course with a comprehensive written debrief delivered via email, offering constructive help and a review of the sessions, and a suggested plan for further development. Finally and uniquely, full post course support is provided by email and via our Facebook page.
WHO’S THE COURSE FOR? The course is suitable for all riders with a full licence including A1 and A2 licences and can be taken on any machine from a 125 upwards. It is equally suitable for geared motorcycles or automatic motorcycles and scooters.
The course is perfectly suited from newly-qualified motorcyclists to experienced riders including those who have taken post-test training elsewhere. If you’re not sure you’re up to the advanced course straight away, a third day can be added to the basic two day course, to ensure you have the basics right. Alternatively, you can book an inexpensive riding assessment to ensure you’re on the right course for you.
Whilst it’s always difficult to make exact comparisons, the standard of training for the course exceeds IAM test standard and is significantly higher than the DVSA’s Enhanced Rider Course. There’s no test at the end of the course, although we’ll help with guidance if you want to take an external riding test.
Courses run from March to November at our regular training locations in Buckinghamshire, Kent and Oxfordshire.