Pete Reed OBE.
Here is all you really need to know about me: as a child I longed to be old enough to ride a motorbike. As an adult my requirement as an international athlete for British Rowing and Team GB was to sign away my privileges to certain freedoms. No scuba diving, no parachuting, no horse riding, no to anything that required special travel insurance and a disgruntled and reluctant scrawl of my name promising, in writing, to no motorcycles. And the adults years went on. I am now 37 years old.
In April 2018, after three Olympic gold medals, two hip operations and one strong desire to catch up with 17 years of missed weekends and adventures, I decided to hang up my oar.
In May I googled “Motorcycle Theory Test London”. Followed up the following week with another google: “Best Direct Access Motorcycle Training”
In June 2018 I met Ian Biederman and his team in Royston to hand over my hard-earned in return for the start of a new life that I will always be grateful for. With no riding experience the DAS7, as it is named, was the Saturday to Friday intensive riding instruction that saw me sitting on my childhood dreams within an hour of arriving. Ok, I was only on the BMW Rider Training static roller, but it was a real motorbike and more thrilling than I had ever imagined - even before rubber touched tarmac.
I loved every moment of the course. I was developing new skills, making new friends and by the end of the week, aquiring a new logo on my driving licence. To summarise the training, you get taught to ride to a much higher standard than is required to pass your test which is intense, rewarding and ultimately what you want to set you up. #NoMinors #NoComplacency
The social media #Bikers community welcomed their newest recruit with open arms, support and advice which I have been absorbing and using. I was introduced to the astonishing team at Bahnstormer BMW in Alton and to BMW UK who were wonderful to pick me up from here and help get me started on what I know will be a journey of a lifetime. By July I was test riding a range of BMWs latest 1200 Boxers and in August I was on the Channel Tunnel with the sublime R1200GS Adventure and the memory of my instructor’s voice in my ear. “Prepare to stop”. “In slow, out go; in fast, out last”. Thanks Nick.
I am far too inexperienced for this to be a bike review, but there are plenty of those out there. I have absorbed that content and recognise how lucky I am to be starting at the top.
I can’t possibly begin to write up this solo, three week European tour experience. I simply can’t. I don’t have the writing skills. I’m not Orwell, Dickens or Tolkien. I found myself saying all sorts of mesmerised expletives out loud to myself in my helmet as I rounded yet about sweeping bend to an Austrian alpine view beyond imagination. Or emerging from a tunnel out of a Bond film to be faced with a mirror flat lake with a small, lost Italian village as its only company. It was breath-taking. And again and yet again; breath-taking. My navigation was based on “that direction looks nice”. I now know what it is like to scratch a 20 year itch.
After nearly three weeks and over two thousand miles, one satisfied former athlete and not one problem with the bike, gear or experience I can safely say that I am sold. Sold on a life with biking. Sold on the GSA. Sold on the adventure. Sold on up-skilling to be the best and safest rider I can be and sold on giving you all the independent nudge to do it too. I am not special - I just opened my laptop and made that first google. Please - if you have that inclination, stop finding a reason not to do it. The only thing I would do differently is after you have your theory, contact Bahnstormer as ask them to tell you about BMW’s Rookie to Rider scheme which helps you breakdown the cost of the DAS7, gear and bike into monthly repayments.
My next adventure is already set, I’m off to the Brecon Beacons with Bahnstormer for a huge off-road experience that will require more fast learning. I will be in touch with the same BMW Riding School in Royston soon to do my advanced course and I will follow that up with a track day as the social community has suggested. Thank you to BMW UK and Alistair and the team at Bahnstormer. See you for another coffee, biscuit and natter very soon.
My customary sign-off that has always served me well in life. It is most appropriate here and I want it to serve you too.
Pete Reed OBE
Olympic Champion 2008, 2012, 2016