Becoming Biker…

So today has been a pretty good day! I’m trying to get myself all sorted for becoming a “real” biker. I got my first bike almost 2 years ago and haven’t looked back since. Here in the UK you can ride a small bike on L-plates for 2 years as long as you do a CBT day and then you either do your full test or you just renew your CBT.

I’d been planning to get my full test done before my CBT was up but that just wasn’t going to happen so I opted to renew today having done my theory the other day so that I can now go in and do the full tests within the next two years. It’s pretty exciting and getting a bike, there’s something ever so slightly rebellious about it perhaps, especially for girls, although it’s good to see more and more girls getting bikes. When people find out your intentions to get a full bike license the reaction is often mixed and more on the side of “are you mad?” But I can quite honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I will be going in for my full test as soon as I possibly can. There is nothing quite like being the girl that turns up on the bike. And hitting a country road and opening up the throttle is such a thrill. It’s a very different feeling to driving a car, you get the wind… well everywhere… and the lean in the bends, something that you don’t get in a car.

The funny thing is when you do a CBT renewal you have to do everything that you would do the first time, but you’re generally with people who have never ridden a bike before, just like I was two years ago. I was so nervous that day. But as soon as I was on my way home last time, I was there in the bike shop and bought my bike there and then!

So today my companions were, a really sweet girl who was just too small for any bike there and had to resort to a moped, but she had so much fun zipping around on it, having first accidentally almost thrown another bike across the yard merely trying to get the damned thing off its stand! But she got the hang of it all pretty quickly and was my rideout companion later in the day. Then two guys, one who would be doing his direct access the next day and one who had all the gear but had never ridden a bike, although reassured everyone he would be fine because he has a push bike… wrong!

I was pleased today, two years ago I struggled even getting the stupid thing to start, moving off without stalling and initially trying to do the manoeuvres without putting my feet down felt impossible. Today despite my bike (I used my own) being a low rider with a bit of a larger turning circle I aced my figure of eights and my emergency stops… accidentally demonstrating I can skid pretty well now on one of them!

What always makes me laugh a little at bike courses is the macho attitude of some guys when they haven’t got a clue. Mr geared up had turned up with a bandana, full synthetic suite in camo print, boots, the lot, and was all bravado at the beginning with his “this will be easy” attitude. After being quite derogatory to the girl who accidentally threw the bike it was his turn… he stalled for about the first half an hour and I kinda felt a little bit mortified for him. We got to lunch, had our briefing and then headed out on the road, me and the other girl with one instructor and the other two with the main guy. She was in front to set the pace because her 50cc was not going to be able to hit the speeds of the other bikes. Once she had found her feet a little we finally started to hit 20mph, and then 30… heading up towards a decent speed, the instructor in the ear peace giving instructions to check mirrors etc. And telling me what I needed to look out for because he knew I’d be doing my actual test soon. We had a wail of a time, going up through some lanes to get to the target stop off, McDonald’s where we had been promised a break.

We won! The girls always win, the other two turn up behind about ten minutes later, the main instructor telling Mr Geared up that he can’t go using the cycle lanes and he really has to “own the road”. We get our food and a chat about the progress and our instructor talks to us about safety and shows us some really good pictures of bike rides he’s been on round the world. I think I just found my life long dream, or at least another new one anyway! Were told that we should all be good to get certificates today and Mr Geared up pipes up that he’s got no idea what he’s doing, this was not like a push bike at all!

Oh dear! I guess at least he now admits he needs a bit longer to get used to it all and it’s better to take the time rather than get that certificate and never ever use it. When I got my bike I was an inexperienced rider and it took me a good few months to get confident enough to hit speeds above 30, I think people often assume it’s a case of sit on the bike and go, but it really isn’t. There’s a whole ton of stuff you learn in the two years of riding under your CBT, I actually took a free training day that’s offered in this country last year to improve my riding before even considering stepping up.

I think the biggest lesson you can learn from having a bike is that you have to respect the power of the bike and your attitude has to be that “one wrong move and this thing can kill me” kind of attitude. During the summer months I often see guys riding round in shorts and t-shirt, whilst it’s legal it’s so dangerous. I’d rather be sweltering hot than in need of a skin graft.

So bikes are here to stay in my life. The sad Mechanic used to try and forbid me from taking my test… because that was going to work… even the one used to say it was too dangerous. But my bike is my trusty companion when no others are suitable. There is nothing better than the freedom of the wind in your hair, an open road in front of you and a full tank of petrol to burn…

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