Back on a motorbike after 15 years

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15 years ago I sat on a Harley Davidson motorbike and really liked the idea of the wind in my hair and travelling around on two wheels.

15 years later, it's something that went onto the to-do list, and finally made it onto an achievements list last year.
It then took a taster session for my birthday off a friend, to kick me up the butt to actually make it happen.

I'll happily admit the reason I kept putting it off was mainly, not really knowing where to go to learn. Lots of friends have bikes, but you can't exactly get someone to help you, like you would in a car. No opportunities to burn the gearbox out in Morrisons car park this time, sadly!

So, I had a session booked and paid for at the Valley Bike School, and was so overwhelmed with how lovely everyone was, I went onto do another 2 taster sessions. It was a great opportunity to get to know the bikes, controlling the clutch, brakes and accelerator. Between the first and third taster sessions I built my confidence and got to learn different methods and styles of riding. It was great to meet so many people passionate about not only motorbikes, but making sure people were safe on them.

Then, due to my work schedule it ended up being a few months until I could do another taster, and then the following day, my CBT, but this weekend, I managed both on a Yamaha YBR 125 motorbike. A flashy red number for the Compulsory basic training, which contrasted imperfectly with the florescent yellow waistcoat with "in training" blazoned on the back for all to see.

Unsurprisingly I was the only woman in the group, and the confidence of some of the guys, I was in awe of. A couple of them had never ridden a bike before, and were coming on the day to do the CBT straight away. I don't think I would have lasted 5 minutes if I hadn't have done the 4 taster sessions beforehand. To me it's seems scary and silly to just rock up with no prior experience. I mean, I stalled the bike enough, and that was after some training!

The day was split into difference sections - safety, clothing and bike maintenance in the morning, with a few hours on the same tennis court I'd been practicing in, doing skills and maneuvers; then defensive driving session over lunch and (as surprised as I was, truly) I wasn't sent home at lunchtime, and got to do a two hour on-road riding session with a super patient guy called Ian.

And, oh my was it brilliant. At the start of this story, I was wanting to do something my teenage self lusted after, I goto lunchtime on my CBT day, and I'll be totally honest I was bricking it by the time we started talking about hatch boxes and roundabouts, suddenly there seemed so much to learn, and no time left to revise.
I had to sit on my hands to avoid looking light a flailing fluorescent Christmas tree, all lit up, reflective and nervous.

But I'm proud I didn't give up, I'm not sure what stopped me in the end, it wasn't the worry about street cred or the way the other guys in the group might have looked at me, but it must have been more about the fact there was so many questions and things to learn and then someone handed me a walkie talkie comms unit, now that's something I'm comfortable with, and distracted me enough, to enable me to forget my nervousness and push through.

The team at VBS were brilliant, they were all lovely people, really skilled and really cared about you. This didn't seem false at all. They all seemed to have stories of people who were no longer with us because of biking accidents, and you got the feeling their concern for all of us being clued up and safe was their uppermost priority. The bike school is run by a husband and wife team, and the real asset they have in their business, is their staff.
I've talked to others about different bike schools and everyone seemed to say this one was much better than most, especially as these guys do the tasters, where apparently, most don't. That would totally scare the helmet off me, if I went on the road without much practice!

It was an absolutely awesome day, and I'm so very glad I went for it. I've not learnt anything majorly new in a while, and I've got a bit saturated on the academic learning front, but this was scary, yes, but also exhilarating.

I read so much about concerning your fears, and I know of people who have real fears, and they have worked with the help of their karmic circle, to learn how to overcome them. Bikes weren't ever a fear of mine, but the fear of failure was high with this. Something I couldn't revise or reflect on to learn, something so practical I had little control over organising to perfection. I had to just go with the flow and see the road as it came at me. The contrast of standing in front of hundreds of people every day, was little is terms of scare factor to that of trying and failing at something new. I was of course reasonable enough to realise that I didn't pass my driving test the first time, so why would this be any different. But, as years go and and we get older, do you feel that failure is more telling?

I'm not one for high risk sports, but I totally understand how people would get hooked on the feeling. Riding a motorbike at 60mph on a breezy and bright Sunday afternoon, is well, something I'm looking forward to doing again very soon! Next up, Direct Access course!