It’s time for an update.
It was back to 2wheelskool where I met my old pal Pete, the bike instructor, who raised the bar, changed the goal posts and got me ready and able for handling a heavier bike. I spent three days with him and by the end of the week we had learned things about each other we probably shouldn’t know.
I had already begun to develop bad habits, like cutting corners and revving too severely, but Yami was soon purring and I made myself do right turns while observing a central position in my lane. I felt very smug when I had to stop short of a junction when a driver cut the corner in front of me, knowing Pete would have given her a good telling off.
I discovered the joys of riding in the rain (not). The perpetual problem of not having mechanical visor wipers necessitates a hand off the handle. That’s ok if you’re not having to slip the clutch and hold the throttle at the same time. After a while you get around the logistics and opening the visor before junctions becomes an additional element in the stopping routine. I swear that procedure needs to be planned a mile in advance every time.
The highlight of the week was finally sitting on a proper bike, all 650 cc of her. Given my imaginative contrivance of names, we’ll call her Pink – she’s got attitude.
The first thing I liked about Pink (yup, she comes complete with pink panelling) is that she has adjustable clutch and brake levers. This means easier controls from the outset. The second thing I liked was the feeling of power in the engine. Now girls, listen up. You don’t know what you’re missing! You know this whole (peri)menopausal thing? I’ve found a cure – seriously exciting!
The thing I didn’t like about her is that she’s sporty, meaning that you have to bend your knees a lot to reach the pedals. And being a perimenopausal ex-athlete, knees won’t like that for too long. Still, I enjoyed my short spin around the playground on her, getting used to the new layout and behaviour. She made me realise just how hard 125cc bikes are to ride in comparison. And not half so exciting.
Today is the official start of my DAS training. I wave goodbye to Pete and say hello Loz. And I thought it was going to be with PJ. Nope – I get the gaffer, just like my first lesson on the 125cc. I’m getting this feeling he doesn’t quite trust me on his bikes, so has to see how bad a problem I am to teach. I suppose that’s to be expected when you’re not oozing confidence with your every sentence.
I arrive feeling dishevelled even though my BMW weatherproof kit keeps me looking smart and dry. I’m thankful for Pete’s emphasis on slow control as I needed it for miles and miles of the school drop-off traffic. The hazard perception test (the one I passed) also demonstrated its usefulness. Kids love bikes and think it’s a good idea to stop in the middle of road to tell you how much. They are usually disappointed with Yami’s specs and carry on without a problem, however, drivers who are still cogs in the wheels of the system show their impatience more than usual.
There’s a delay at the school due to understaffing. I’m glad of the tea break and I’m composed and calm before reacquainting myself with Pink.
Pink and I run smoothly around the playground, avoiding traffic cones which appear to be breeding like rabbits (Loz’s joke, I’m not that funny). We practice left and right junctions and Loz is impressed with my smooth control. Funny, but I didn’t feel I had it up to Pete’s standards. Still, we’re on the road and heck, but Pink can give it some welly. Loz decides the roads I hate are the plan for the day.
Nothing is as bad as your worst fear.
Without all the stop-start traffic, I got to enjoy the smooth power of this bike, it’s stability, the way it pulls away from junctions and slips into gear with ease. Loz introduces me to something new – 6th Gear! Woohoo!
I can’t say I do everything perfectly or even well, there are a couple of wobbles. The wobbles don’t present a hazard to anyone, including myself, and the control I’ve learned helps to get me back on track and comfortable again. The knee problem I’m worried about doesn’t present itself and the bike is surprisingly comfortable. Loz is more complimentary of my riding than I expect, but gives me two things to work on for the next session.
I arrive home after a not-so-bad ride with Yami. But I hate to have to tell her, she doesn’t cut the mustard – it’s like swapping from eight inches to four. As I’m brewing my tea, I realise that I’ve developed a new addiction. And it’s not to my favourite cuppa anymore.