IT IS 6.45am. The venerable horse chestnut trees that shelter the garden are swooning in the breeze, the infant light slowly growing to a high of sickly pallor. The house and everyone in it, barring me and the cats, are still. It is a good hour before my usual rising time, but it’s been a busy week.

I can feel it. God, can I feel it. Despite following a faintly obsessive gym routine my arms are aching from the sea kayaking class I attended two days ago. Who’d have thought mucking around in a lightweight canoe in a swimming pool for an hour could be so demanding on the upper body? I thought I was fit and strong.

More pertinently my neck is throbbing after my initiation last night into the hallowed realm of advanced riding.

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For those unfamiliar with the term, advanced riding is the motorcycle equivalent of advanced driving. For those unfamiliar with that term, advanced driving is the system that anyone can learn and practise with the motoring organisation IAM RoadSmart, formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists. My nearest group is Glasgow South, which has both advanced drivers and riders.

Having qualified as an advanced driver 15 years ago it was always my intention to do the advanced riding course as soon as (a) I felt I’d mastered the basics of riding a motorcycle and (b) it was practical, my goal being to be a better and safer rider. With the changing of the seasons that time had come – the demands and appeal of gardening and golf wane somewhat at this time of year – and although the Glasgow South riders suspend their activities over autumn and winter, for obvious reasons, I decided to dip my TCX boots in the waters of advanced riding before saying au revoir to the heady days of comfortable daily commuting and hello to the questionable pleasures of winter.

So it is that 12 hours earlier I find myself among a gaggle of middle-aged men clad in textile motorcycle clothing in a supermarket car park as drizzle turns to rain. Despite being 46 years old I appear to be one of the younger gents. My Suzuki SV650 is definitely the feeblest machine here, being Lilliputian in comparison to the upright touring bikes whose comforts, power and riding position are of understandable allure to riders of a certain age.

Two hours later I am sitting in a fast food restaurant on the southern periphery of Glasgow as Alan, a qualified IAM RoadSmart observer and my companion for my inaugural run through Giffnock (wet), Newton Mearns (wet), Barrhead (wet) and Lugton (wet), delivers his verdict on my abilities in between mouthfuls of hamburger and sips of tea (I’ve yet to meet a motorcyclist who doesn’t drink tea). Accustomed to my 20-minute each-way commute, my neck and wrists ache and what with the sea kayaking class and everything else I am on the brink of exhaustion.

“Pretty good,” says Alan, prescribing a focus on road positioning and improved rear observations. I’ll take that, although in this condition I’ll take anything.

Glasgow South IAM Group is running a free introductory course to advanced driving on September 20 at 7.30pm at Thorntree Hall, Thornliebank, Glasgow. Visit