SMART Training – Sunny Day in Wales – 02nd March 2012

March 3, 2012 / My category, Training / 0 Comments /

After a rather long disturbed night involving hours of foxes barking mating calls through the window, I groggily arose from the warm folds of the duvet and sleepy arms of the foetal positioned Sam. Stumbling jerkily over to the window I drew back the curtain to observe what the day would hold weather wise. All bleary eyed and with Sam now stirring and groaning what only could be objections to the unearthly hour, I paused and momentarily consider whether at some point during the night there had been some kind of crazy zombie apocalypse as the view I was greeted with was a thick white fog with silhouettes of eerie tree branches quivering away. I certainly felt zombified.

Clare: “It looks like something from Silent Hill outside..”
Sam: “Ughghrmufgar..whatimeissit?…mehbedsleepnomm… silenthill?Zombies?sleep?mergh”

After a builders style cuppa tea both of us were up and running… as usual the standard mayhem of “Have you got this?” “Where’s that?” “Have you seen my hat?!” “You’re wearing it!” pursued… but within half an hour we were out on the foggy roads heading towards Smart Motorcycling Training in Swansea! Today would be a day of getting used to the 500cc bikes we would be using in our Module 1 and 2 tests… which was exciting to me having only really experienced a 125cc. Not only that but we had also planned a visit to the Wales Air Ambulance to fully introduce ourselves and meet the Charity Fund Raising Team! Despite the usual old man grumblings from Sam about his discontentment in having to hand over £6.00 to enter his homeland over the French built bridge… the sun was breaking through and we were both excited… today was going to be great!

A journey of chinwagging ensued and a number of traffic jams later we rocked up at Smart Motorcycles to be lovingly greeted by Dexter the pooch of stupendous fluffiness and magnitude, which without fail turns Sam into mush!

Sam: “Can we get one? I want one! I want Dexter! We can take it round the world! If we break down then it can pull us!”

BackwardsI laugh and we agree it’s a beastie we shall have when we return from the journey! We wave a quick hello to Chris who, like a true showman, is in the middle of displaying the various helmets you can wear whilst riding. Returning the gesture he then continues his CBT introduction with three fellas around him smiling. Promptly falling outside geared up and finally awake, we are ready to face the now gorgeously sunny day. Ianto introduces me to my bike for the day, a Honda CB500 and Sam has the Kawasaki ER-6N. Whilst kitting me up with the comms set, Ianto reminds me that, despite being a bit heavier and having a wee bit more power, it’s the same as the 125cc and won’t do anything unless I ask it to! I hop on and start off round the yard looping about and getting used to braking and the biteyness of the power, Sam in tail and already both of us grinning.

After a few little hints and tips from Ianto (counting 1million – pull in the clutch and change gear – 2million – slow release clutch), he jumps on his Kawasaki and we’re off out onto the roads for a few hours of puttering about round various estates, carriage ways and country lanes. The sun is now beaming out a warming touch – what a difference a couple of hours makes. Taking the lead I bop through villages with Ianto as usual giving us great directions and observations for riding as well as the odd quip that makes us crack up!

Ianto: “Blooming heck, are you seeing the kind of folk around here!?! It’s like being surrounded by people from the Cantina Bar in Star Wars! Hurry up Clare, Sam and I don’t want to stick around!”

Brum brum!As it goes, I was doing rather well for a second ride. Other than my puzzlement as to why I was going no where on a hill start despite having the biting point… (forgot to take my foot off the brake didn’t I! What a muppet!)… my changes were much smoother, Ianto wasn’t having to remind me “Winker winker!” to turn off my indication and I was really enjoying the sunshine and sights of the day! Granted, I was still riding slow and talking like an insane person to myself when doing turns and lane changes just to make sure I remembered the relevant checks and processes, but an hour into it and things were coming naturally and I was loving it! Sam too was enjoying the day, also getting used to riding his bike too. Being much lower and with different suspension to his megatron-sized KTM 990 adventure S he found the odd unavoidable pot hole to be more of a thunk than usual and had to remind himself to remain seated when pootling over sleeping Policemen! He wasn’t in the deserts of Dubai… he was in the sunny lands of Wales!

After an hour and a half, I swapped to the back giving Sam a bit more a chance to ride at a slightly less snail pace that I had set for the morning. Being at the back meant having to fend for myself and on the odd occasion with the busy roads I inevitably was momentarily left behind. Although I felt nervous… it was only due to my poor sense of direction and having no idea where I was! Due to the misfortune of a red traffic light and busy roundabout both Ianto and Sam were out of sight for a number of minutes. Having heard no turning instruction for a while it did cross my mind “What if my headset is broken and I have lost them? I have absolutely no idea where I am and I have no phone! Imagine if I get lost in Wales… what am I going to be like round the world!?” I laughed but continued straight for a few minutes knowing no instructions… meant go straight. A few minutes later I heard a turn instruction and caught a glimpse of them up ahead… but because I was busy calling out “Mirror mirror manoeuvre 1-million-clutch-gear-2-million-clutch-out” I neglected to compute the direction and ended up taking a completely wrong turn. Ianto, being the super human detective that he is instantly knew I was being a numpty and had me pull over whilst he about turned and came and fetched me giggling at the side of the road! What can I say – typical woman with directions!

Sunshine SmilesBack at the yard we stop for lunch, sourcing some tasty hummus and crusty rolls and relaxed in the sun, both Sam and I grinning about our morning so far. This was the life! Shortly after and with bellies full, Ianto starts walking us through what the Module 1 test will involve and we start practicing pulling up, walking the bike into position, doing slaloms, figures of eights and U turns. A couple of times I lose my balance and end up boshing my foot down and stand there a little confused… this had never happened before… what was I doing wrong? Sam and Ianto soon point out that I had picked up the habit of looking downwards when turning, which meant I naturally leaned and thus lost my balance. Plonker! I decided to break a moment and Sam jumps on, doing everything perfectly (and super slow… the show off!)! I think “well if he can do it I can!” Back on and looping about, I am much better this time although I am glad we have a full practice day on Sunday at the test centre! A few times I miss a cone and laugh out loud only to hear Sam calling out “Stop your cackling else we will swap your bike for a broom!”! All in all it’s a fun afternoon!


Without realising it, it’s now 15:30 and we have to head off to the Wales Air Ambulance! We de-gear ourselves, say our tally-hos (which include big slobbers from the pooch) and make off into the afternoon sun.

Once again, a stupendous day of training. There were some nuggets of learning which will prove to be so useful in the future. Iantos Police experience was particularly evident today – always looking into the distance putting his perspective on potential hazards in a clear and calming manner whilst generating a view of how the road is shaping by observing the terrain and surrounding details. His friendly yet informative approach is ever welcoming… we really feel like we’re being trained by the best of eyes and experience. We’re both looking forward to spending some time with Chris on Sunday (Ianto jokingly states it’s a Good Cop Bad Cop experience to be had!) The team is great – thanks guys if you’re reading this we’re so happy to have you as our Jedi-like-mentors!! Sunday… here we come and then Mod 1 AHOY!

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