Granny-on-a-bike has been a little quiet for sometime. But her broomstick has been flying for the past few weeks, stuttering and stalling at times, and meeting new challenges on any day the winds aren’t going to carry rider off in front of a juggernaut. Or as is more likely where I live, a double-decker bus.
There are advantages to learning out of the high season of summer. It helps you to deal with conditions you’d never otherwise meet. Wet leaves, wet manure (you’d think the sheep would use a loo!), wind, the glare of lights, wishing you had windscreen wipers for your visor, riding without feeling the tips of your fingers, and the latest – gravel drifts after heavy rains presenting slippery obstacles at junctions.
I tackled the mod 1 test. I didn’t feel quite ready for it, but, on the advice of my instructor, I went for the experience. There was nothing to lose in trying.
I didn’t pass, failing to get to 50kph out of a bend to do an emergency stop. Parking, slalom, two consecutive figures of eight, u-turn, walking pace riding, controlled stop – all those couldn’t have gone any better. But 50kph? Who’d have thought it could be so hard? Still, it was a confidence boost, I felt like it was within reach.
Scheduled to try again a couple of weeks later, I booked in a refresher the day before. We did a short road ride to get used to the bikes again, then worked on those speed manoeuvres. I was having a good day. I discovered how to get to 50kph in a short distance, finding it helps to glance at the revs meter. I did a couple of emergency stops from speed and managed to do them without stalling, not necessary, but a bonus. One more before the final technical skill: swerving.
This is where I discovered making a mistake hurts. I hit the speed, but was still accelerating, the hand went up to stop and I pulled the front brake too hard. The wheel locked, and me and bike hit the ground.
The bike ended up with a buckled brake pedal, but was still operating, and I was thankful for the body armour. A bit bruised the next day, but I’ve felt worse after a run. I think the instructor was more shocked than me and she made me sit down. I felt like I’d been sent to the naughty corner. I only asked her what I did wrong!
I had the option of the bike being picked up, or riding back. Feeling it was better to get back up on the horse again, I opted for riding back (my guardian angels ride destriers). In the playground, we ran through the slow manoeuvres without further incident or mistake. As, we’re patching up the scratches on the bike’s crash bars (I noted the layers and layers of paint meant I’m not the first and won’t be the last to find the floor), the instructor said she didn’t feel it was fair for me not to do the test the next day. Everything had gone so well apart from, well, nearly being hospitalised.
When the adrenaline passes and you’re feeling the bruises, you don’t quite feel the same way. The next day, I made myself ride on little Yami over to the training school to see how I feel and was pretty shaky. I told them I wasn’t doing any test today. But I was goaded into getting back up on the broomstick and go for the ride over to get comfy again. See how I feel when I’m there. When I got there, my instructor put all my papers on the desk and next thing I knew I was being ushered to the pad.
All’s well so far. I round that bend, I rev that throttle, we get to 50 kph and the emergency stop couldn’t have been better. But, I managed to kick a bollard on the turn and the examiner had explicitly told me that he doesn’t like picking up bollards at his age. I offered to pick it up for him, but that kind of bribery doesn’t work, he told me he’d see me next week.
It so happened there’s a vacant slot for that test next week. I’m booked in.
Attempt no. 3: It’s an hour’s journey from the training school to the test centre. It takes me a while to relax, but am reasonably comfortable again by the time we get there. Except, I didn’t get there. I missed the turn the instructor took at the last roundabout, chose what seemed to be the logical exit and got it wrong. Despite it causing hilarity at the test centre, I had missed my test, and am told “see you next week’.
At this rate, I’ll be on their Christmas mailing list.
My self-sabotage was probably some subconscious avoidance. I’d not been the same since the accident. I’m seriously considering giving up. But my pride is my weakness and I’m stubborn as hell. I AM going to get that license. I had a chat with the instructor and agreed to backtrack on the lessons and ban any talk of ‘test’. Two shorter lessons and it’s working. Yesterday I had such fun out there on the big bike, I can’t wait for the next session.
Featured Image: Public Domain