The Journey

Almost there

A good day.
I passed my Module 1 test. Though not without a fair amount of stress. Sitting at the breakfast table that Tuesday morning I was, Jenn later informed me, visibly shaking from nerves. I felt sick; I had not slept but two hours the night before –– the rest of the evening spent tossing and turning, imagining all the ways in which the test could go wrong.

The Module 1 is the penultimate step in getting one’s motorcycle license in the UK (1). It focuses primarily on slow-speed manoeuvring: pushing the bike around, riding at walking pace, slaloming through cones, etc. The element I found myself hung up on most, however, was the U turn. On the Saturday beforehand I had really struggled to get the bike around in the allotted space, a fact that upon afterthought was so baffling as to become an obstacle.

A Honda CBF600 has a wheel base of 58 inches. How could you not turn it around in a space that is 25 feet wide? And yet all through the morning on Saturday I had failed. And all through the afternoon I had struggled. It was a fault that ate away at me: I felt I must be an idiot who was neither competent nor deserving of riding a motorcycle.

Which speaks to what I am finding is one of the most important aspects of riding: confidence. The fact is, turning a bike in a 25-foot space is only tricky if you think it is tricky. In the days before my test day I had convinced myself it was, and as such worked myself into more and more of a state.

As had Helen, who was also taking her Mod 1 that day. She had been there on my step-up day, preparing for the test and had gotten progressively worse. I learned later she had dropped the bike at some point, something she would do again on Tuesday.

In the hours or so before the test we found an empty parking lot and went about practicing the various elements that concerned us most. Helen dropped her bike and whilst the instructor, Andy, worked with her, I spent time doing U turn after U turn. Eventually Andy came over to check my progress.

“That’s about seven and a half metres, right?” I asked him, nodding at the space I had given myself for the turns. “From here to the curb?”

“No, mate,” he said.

My heart sank at the thought I had perfected the art of going too wide.

“I’d say it’s about…” he said, taking wide steps to measure the distance. “Four and a half metres? Five at best.”

I am the muthahuggin’ U turn champion, yo –– able to make a U turn in a smaller space than legally required. No doubt they are singing folk songs about me somewhere. I went into the test telling myself that I could pass the test, that I would pass. And I did.

Now I have just one more obstacle to overcome –– the Module 2 –– before I finally achieve my license. I take that test on 26 March. Onward.

(By the way, Helen passed her test, too.)


(1) Assuming one is older than 24.