Do you talk to yourself?
When I have a lot to think about and to keep focused on the present, I tell myself what I should be doing. It helps me to order my cluttered head. I tell myself off when I do something stupid, like forget why I went up stairs or am clumsy and bump into something that was very clearly in my path.
But today, I take talking to myself to a new high.
I’m booked in to do an assessment of how long it will take me to pass my full biker’s licence and to try out a 650cc for the first time. The pressure’s on: Verd has passed his test and to celebrate we visit a BMW showroom. Verd wants to see the 2017 F1200 GSA model in triple black. It’s his dream bike. It isn’t on display. They are being ordered in and are going out the door as quickly. We talk to Steve who suggested that for £5000 less he could get the same bike, but different paintwork. And there it was – one he was equally happy with, two years old, little mileage, full touring kit, luxury additions, looks like new and the paintwork met his aesthetic expectations. It’s registered with the number 64, the year of the dragon. Verd wants it.
I continue talking to Steve while Verd ponders how much of hole in his dragon pile of gold he is prepared to make and I discuss my eventual desire to own a low chassis F700 GS and ask how often they come in. Steve has a better idea, he encourages me sit on a bike. It’s a 2010 F650 GS in excellent condition, with full expanding panniers, low mileage, and one owner. What’s better is I’m able to get my feet on the floor. I shuffle it back and forth just to be sure. I roll it sideways, can handle its weight and I feel very much at home. I LOVE it.
Small snag, I’m still a learner rider and will be for a while longer.
Not a problem says Steve, they can keep it in storage until I’m ready and they’ll issue all the paperwork from the day I’m ready to have it delivered.
We put a returnable deposit down on both bikes so we can mull over it for a couple of days.
I go for a ride on my far more sensible 125cc. It’s the furthest I’ve been so far and meet quite a few challenges. There’s a mile of snail traffic which, although tiring, is good clutch control practice. Then I have to stop at a junction on a steep downward sloping hill with a tight hairpin turn. This challenge was more like off-road riding. Note made to self: quiet backwater lanes are not always a good idea. The journey requires a break to get the blood flowing in my fingers and bum again.
I stop off at the bike school and book myself in for the next stage of training. I’ve two weeks to get prepared. The pressure’s on.
Meanwhile we go to Route 62 Kustom bike and car show for inspiration and motivation.
Despite a series of runs without doing something really stupid, the fear hits every time I get ready to go out on the bike. I find all manner of excuses for why it is a bad idea to go out. Too windy, wet roads, too busy, go later. Today, it is because I have to fill her up with petrol. It’s my first time ever handling a petrol pump.
Well, that worry’s out of the way. What on earth was there to worry about?
I’m back on the road, and give Yami another long run. Today, I take the role of ‘instructor’. This entails looking ahead to see what’s coming up and going through the drill of what I must do to prepare for all eventualities.
“30 miles an hour zone, check speed.
Pedestrian ahead, check mirrors, prepare to slow down.
Bend ahead, keep looking where you’re going…”
I keep this drill up for an hour and find it’s working. Talking to myself makes me forget about being worried, and I’m relaxed. I praise myself for things well-spotted and well-executed. I’m sure it’s improving my observation skills 10 fold and it stops me zoning out when I’m getting tired. There’s a lorry showing in my mirror and I realise that I’ve stopped being nervy about whatever is behind me.
I congratulate myself when home. It’s my best journey so far, I’m feeling a great deal more confident and I enjoyed myself.
A trip like this every day for the next two weeks and I should be fine for the conversion course.
Did we get the bikes?
Yup, the dragon let me dig a hole in the pot of gold.
Suddenly our plans seem to be shaping into a reality and the excitement is beginning to kick in. Now I just have to pass my test. Both of them.