What…a… day! My first attempt on a motorbike… and I can simply say it has been spiffing! We headed up to Ace Motorcycles, Bristol in the morning for the Get On free hours trial… Sam was driving and I as his passenger being as quietly excited as possible. I know what you’re thinking… Clare?! Quietly excited?! Never! You’re right… this was an ultimate fail on my behalf! I was like a bounding puppy dog out on its first ever walk! The journey consisted of me blabbering away to Sam, sneaking out all last bits of advice as possible and animatedly acting out the actions of riding a bike.
*with limbs flailing* Me: “So this one’s brake… as is this… how does the gears work again? How’d I get it back into neutral? What if I miss 2nd gear? When do I use the back brake? Where’s the indicator? Do you think I’ll be okay in these boots?”
Upon arriving my excitement soon dissolved to butterflies as I watched from the safety of my little car other learners bopping about on bikes, smoothly weaving in and out of cones and puttputtputting to and fro. That… was due to be me. The realisation then kicked in… we’ve come so far in planning this around the world trip on motorbikes… what if today proves I am utterly knickers at riding?! There’s only 6months to go… and I was only just starting riding a bike today! What if I hate it? What if I wheel spin off into a wall and make a complete donkey of myself?!
Eaaak! Launching out of the car with a wonky-nervous-cheshire cat sized smile I tried to compose myself by reminiscing of all the times I’ve clung onto a biker as a pillion, longing to ride myself… and today was the day! Sam was instantly at my side, reassuring me… that boy can read me like a book! As we gathered our bits and clambered up to the office my eyes remained firmly anchored on the learners in the car park. We were warmly greeted by the lovely Kelly who’s training to be an instructor with Ace Motorcycles. After some banter which I cannot recall (a combination of nerves and excitement meant I had verbal diarrhoea which wasn’t fully computing in my head…) and rushing off for my 10th wee of the morning… I return to be greeted by Neil my training instructor for the hour.
Helmets set (the XS Helmet was a wee bit wobbly so I voted for the XXS Helmet… cue chipmunk face), gloves ahoy and Sams’ KTM jacket… I plodded off outside, where Neil introduced me to my bike… a wee 125cc Honda. With clear and concise instructions, Neil carefully guided me through the bike and what all the knobs and blinkers and thingy-ma-bobs did, easing my nerves with the odd joke and encouraging smile. I tried to take it all in but my brain was awash with nerves! After all the checks and explanations, Neil asks me to throw my leg over (the bike), start her up and give her a little rev… BRUM BRUM! Cue a big filthy grin and loud belly laugh… with my nerves temporarily subsided I pondered happily “This was going to be a fun day!”! Neil tests my skills on clutch control and after achieving a few biting points I am told that either I’m lucky, a natural or he’s an awesome instructor! Whichever it was I was just glad I hadn’t stalled!
After running through various clutch control practices and edging forward a few metres at a time with Neil by my side on foot… he jogs on ahead and signals for me to follow him in a big semi circle. Okay. I may have been in first and I may have been going at a little above walking pace but I WAS MOVING with noOoOoo feet on the ground and I LOVED IT! Hehe! He then gets me doing loops in first, introduces me to gentle braking, then second gear, then third and before long I was looping round the car park, beaming ear to ear (though constantly yabbering instructions to myself and calling out gears in an insane Rain Main fashion so I could remember how to do what).
Upon puttputting past Neil and Sam whilst calling out “wheeeeeeeeeeeee” I could see eyes being rolled at my high pitch squeels but I have since been informed that Neil was actually saying he was impressed with my handling at slow speeds (Go me!) Throwing a few cones out, Neil upgrades me to figure of eights. Initially I was a tiddly bit squeewy but with a bit of practice and a demonstration from Neil about how to use the back brake effectively, I was off weaving my way round, once again beaming stupendous amounts. My main issue was being confused with what direction I had to go… but then I can blame that on being a lady (don’t you know)! Best invest in a Sat Nav for this whole world trip malarkey mind… hehe!
Neil then stops me and asks if I fancy a try on the 500cc… he thinks I can handle it. Awesome.. but erk! Neil tells me to “treat it the same as a 125 just it’s slightly heavier and tighter on the brakes… but easier with the slow turns”. Off I putt and loop round a few times until Neil signals to pull up and stop. As I slow up and try and find the gears whilst yabbering… “Third to second, second to second.. second to where’s the darn gear thing?! Brake brake clutch clutch… where’s the gear!!”… I pull up to stop and look down at my foot trying to find the gear paddle thingy… lean… and PLONK. The bike tumbles over! Laughing and with the help of Neil I picked it back up (heavy hunkachunk!). This happens twice buuut after being told to stop looking at my feet when stopping (feel the force Clare!!) I was off again and happy as Larry!
After a while of weaving about happily… my time learning at Ace Motorcycles with Neil sadly came to an end. Boo hiss! Neil gives me a run down of the Get On hour, letting me know he only ever lets 1 in 10 people get on a 500cc within the first hour… I am apparently a natural! Beaming, relieved, not wanting to leave and excited, I receive a lovely huge hug from Sam who tells me I was like a duck to water and that he is super proud!
This… was my first step to the 50,000 mile round the world trip which is now only 6months away. It was a stupendous hour and I cannot say enough how absolutely wonderful, lovely and fantastic Ace Motorcycles were to both Sam and I! What a stupendous bunch of people… the Get On hour is such a brilliant eye opener to motorbike riding! I would highly recommend anyone curious about riding to give it a go… it’s simple, fun, progressive and awesome!
Needless to say, I am now very excited but incredibly aware of how much I have to learn and how little time I have… Luckily I have a great fella by my side and a brilliant amount of support! I had best get on the phone and sort out the next stint of learning!
Yeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! And away she goes!Share this