When I graduated I bought my first car, a mini traveller (848cc) and over the years family responsibilities meant that 4 wheels were always the order of the day. Then, in the 1990s, with increasingly independent children and a wife who was working a good motorway drive/ride away from home, I took the plunge and bought a second-hand BMW K100LT (998cc) - a touring bike capable of comfortable long distance rides. I still had my full licence so I was soon back in the groove.
In the mid 00s this bike was stolen from outside the ground where I was watching older son play semi-professional rugby league. I got a fair insurance payout and bought a BMW R1100RT (1098cc) like this one:
Since our move to N Wales, I have used the bike occasionally for the work run, and had a few adventures (Scotland twice, London for a concert, Cambridge for a funeral) to keep the engine ticking over. It doesn't get a great deal of use in the winter, particularly not the kind of wet and snowy winter we have just emerged from.
As part of the motorcycling spring-clean this year, I decided to sign up for a safety workshop run by N Wales Police (www.bikesafe.co.uk). This is a one-day course, with the morning spent in the classroom looking at accidents and how they can be avoided, followed by a one to one 3-hour ride-out with a highly qualified observer (most are serving or ex- police motorcyclists) who provides feedback and advice about your riding style and competence, with particular reference to safety. As the ride-out was on bendy roads I didn't know, taking us to Betws-y-Coed and back, it was quite challenging. The level of concentration needed was very high, reminding me that trying to stay safe on the roads should always mean thinking of nothing else while riding/driving.
I was signed off with a certificate assessing me as a low/medium risk rider (there's one category safer, two less safe). Further training with the Instititute of Advanced Motorists or a similar organisation is an option. Frequent use of the bike undoubtedly helps, too. Thankfully the training day brought a change to the weather, and we've had sunny days since. Long may it last.