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19th March 2004


Riding Motorcycles Porfessionally by Mick Bones

This book is both a delight and a puzzle. Let me start with the puzzle: I have no idea where to get another copy from.

I found my copy on the Internet. It was a self-published venture, selling for 5 a copy from a web site. It looked good, and I bought one. It turned out to be very good indeed, but when I went back to find the web site, it had gone. I have searched, but been unable to find where Mick Bones went. I can only hope that he basks in wealthy retirement.

But the book; it's a guide to surviving on the streets based on twenty years and 650,000 miles as a courier. Now for some people, twenty years experience is just their first year repeated twenty times. Work becomes little more than dreading Mondays and waiting for pay-days. But Mick Bones appears to have thought about what it is that he does. Better yet, he has written it down in a form that makes sense. In eighty-six pages, he describes in diagrams and words what goes wrong, and what to do about it. This is no scratcher's guide to offending car drivers, though. Mick refers to and quotes from the Advanced and Police riding manuals. Indeed, he restates the first rule: always ride so that you maintain a clear view of your path ahead throughout your stopping distance.

Give this a bit of thought: if you remember nothing else about riding safely, remember the first rule. It means you should manoeuver to preserve your view ahead, or adjust your speed to match your view. Think of the lives that would be saved if everyone on the road did just this one thing right.

The book is divided into sixteen chapters, each covering a particular aspect of riding or a hazard. For example, there's a chapter on filtering and another on the use of indicators. There is also a dire warning at the end of the dangers of becoming overconfident. This is the curse of dispatch riders, who through practice become supremely skilled: if the eejits don't get you, you can turn into one of your own.

The book is a good read; it's filled with diagrams showing practical examples of situations and what goes wrong, plus what you should do. The diagrams are hand drawn and the words simply typed on folded plain paper, but the book is a little gem.

And this brings me back to the puzzle: does anyone know where Mick Bones went or how to get more copies?


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