Group Associate Rides
The format of Group Associate Rides has recently been revised. This is not news to the associates attending them and all the BWAM observers because the changes have already been implemented prior to this announcement. The changes are designed to retain all the benefits of Group Associate Rides as they were whilst introducing the many positive features of the allocated observer system of guidance.
The previous structure of Group Associate Rides allowed associates the opportunity to start the guidance régime prior to allocation to an observer. Many associates have achieved good test passes from only attending Group Associate Rides. But, there were a number of drawbacks which most of you who have experience of the previous GAR format will be aware of : a variable ratio of associates to observers; not knowing how many will participate on a given day made planning systematic guidance difficult for the coordinator and the observers; continuity of guidance could be disjointed due to the movement between associates and observers.
The previous method also had many benefits: associates having the opportunity to receive advice from a number of observers each of whom have their own style of delivery; being able to meet others in an environment focussed on advanced riding; a chance to discuss features of the guidance which are not clear or are open to differing interpretation and the opportunity to receive support from other associates who have a shared aim.
Group Associate Rides are now an allocated method of guidance. Associates once allocated to Group Associate Rides will in general expect to complete their guidance within the group. Associates will receive continuity of guidance by being placed with the same observer except on those occasions where a change is necessary due to observer availability or a brief change being seen to have positive features. Associates are now informed directly of the GAR dates and are required to commit to attend in advance so that allocation to observers who likewise have committed to the dates can be made. A fundamental change is that associates will be expected to attend and if more than 3 rides are missed in succession their place will be allocated to someone else. There will be allowance made for extenuating circumstances but the principal is made because regular attendance is necessary to make progress.
Because Group Associate Rides have become allocated and associates are directly informed of the dates; these dates will not be published in the newsletter or posted on the club web site. It is not anticipated that anyone who is not allocated to a particular ride will turn up to a ride. Only allocated riders will be permitted to attend a Group Associate Ride. The main benefit of this ruling will be that associate to observer ratios will be maintained at a reasonable level - ideally 2:1 and no greater than 3:1.
The sole intention of the changes is to make Group Associate Rides a stand alone method of guidance that gives the very best opportunity for associates to achieve a good test pass; to enjoy guidance as a process and to infuse the endeavour to maintain safe, progressive riding after they have passed their test. The GAR observers share this aim and will work together as they have always done to ensure success for the associates attached to Group Associate Rides. The allocated Observer method of guidance which has run in tandem with the previous format of Group Associate Rides and which has an excellent record of test pass success is not affected by the changes to the Group format. Associates joining the club will be placed with either guidance format depending upon availability of spaces in either of the two guidance environments and assessment by the Group Associate Coordinator.
If anyone has questions or queries relating to Group Associate Rides please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached on 01202 859200.
Steve Palmer, Former Group Associate Rides Organiser