The Journey


It’s happening. A few days ago, I signed up to do a CBT course. For those of you playing along at home, CBT stands for Compulsory Basic Training (the British love acronyms), and it is the first step in the very long process of becoming a fully licensed motorcyclist in the UK.

Next Saturday I’ll be in the northern fringes of Cardiff at 8 a.m. for a full day of learning stuff and riding around cones. At the end of it, if I’ve managed to do it all to an accepted standard, I’ll get a wee piece of paper (1) that says I can ride a 125cc motorcycle – under certain conditions – for two years. At least, this is my understanding of the situation.
The aforementioned certain conditions are that I will be restricted to a 125cc motorcycle, I will not be allowed to ride on the motorway (who would want to on a 125?), I will not be allowed to carry a passenger, and I will have to display L plates (plastic signs on the front and back of the motorcycle with a large letter L, for “Learner” – or a D here in Wales, for the Welsh word “Dysgwr“).

If you go back to that London intersection I mentioned in my lane-splitting post a while back, you’ll notice a fair few L plates. It’s my guess that many UK motorcyclists, and especially those within cities, never get past the CBT stage. Why pay to have several days of training when one day will get you on the road? But I’m inclined to go through the whole process – to get my full license so I can (eventually) ride bigger bikes and take my wife along every once in a while (if she wants).

Jenn’s reaction was the dictionary definition of a poker face; I don’t think she’s particularly pleased. But I think, too, she can see this is something I’ve put my mind to, something that makes me happy.

Whereas I did tell her about the CBT (it would have been difficult to otherwise explain my disappearing for a full day), I conveniently left out the bit about buying a helmet. Yesterday, I walked to Riders Cardiff, my hands shaking with excitement, and bought a BMW Sport helmet, thanks to the fact they had reduced its price substantially.

I’m sitting here now, wearing the helmet as I write this post. I’ve had it on for at least an hour now and it has remained relatively comfortable. The only issue I’ve really encountered is the question of how to get water. I may need to invest in some sort of water bottle with a straw.

I am so excited. My goal of getting onto the road is still a ways off, with a number of obstacles in between, but it’s starting to solidify. It’s starting to become real.

(1) Actually, it will probably be normal-sized.