The Journey

One step closer

I needn’t have worried. Before I took my CBT course a tiny doubt was swirling in my head that, maybe, maybe I would not enjoy riding a motorcycle. It had been a long time since I was last on a bike. Tastes change. Maybe, too, had my affinity for motorcycling.

I loved it. Well, eventually I loved it. In the first few moments of being on the bike I did a fair bit of swearing. First there was the fact I kept stalling out the bike, exacerbated by my forgetting to use the rear brake. These were mistakes I overcame within a few minutes but I felt angry at myself for not being awesome right away. Some part of me had quietly assumed I would be as proficient on a motorcycle as I am on a bicycle. I cycle through crowded urban streets every day; I had not been on a motorcycle in 18 years. But one is rarely reasonable when being self-critical.

I wrote an extensive post on my CBT experience on my other blog, because I don’t hold myself to a 500-word limit on that one. And when writing about taking the first step toward doing something you’ve wanted to do (on some level or another) for 18 years, you need more than 500 words.

Suffice to say, however, things went well. Because I’m one of the few fools willing to train in the winter I found myself with one-on-one instruction, which made things more relaxed. The instructor was surprisingly complimentary of my balance and handling of the bike. By the end of the day his only quibbles were over how well I show that I am looking in the mirrors and checking my blind spot.

“Those will come, though,” he said, and encouraged me to carry on through the Direct Access scheme to get my full license and be allowed on any size bike I choose.

To that end, both he and the owner of the training school (he had popped in to say hello in the morning) strongly advised that I rethink my plan of starting with a 250cc bike and moving slowly up.

“You’re a big fella,” he said (I’m 6-foot-1, which is big in the UK). “You’ll outgrow a 250 really quickly.”

That was probably the biggest surprise of the day. I suspect he may be right, though. Just one day of training was enough to prove I was correct to no longer want a Yamaha YBR 125. The engine was small enough that I was starting to play around after just a few hours, and the bike itself was so small I felt like a Shriner.

The instructor was confident in my ability. So, the next step is to take the two theory tests, then spend a day getting used to a bigger bike, then take the two Direct Access tests. This is actually happening. Slowly. But it’s actually happening.