Blog #2 – The new rider course

After choosing the test centre of choice (ART Training….those lucky people!) Getting booked onto the new rider course, then the day arrives to get back on a motorbike.

I arrive at ART training after following their very good directions. The weather was not on my side I’m afraid, but then what did I really expect learning in the winter!

So I arrive at the centre, to a warm welcome by Kim, and Frank, with beaming smiles. Suddenly my nerves hit in for reasons I can’t even explain. Anyway Frank (or Spanky as he is more fondly known! I didn’t think I ask questions!!) asks me about my riding experience, I give him the small low down on it, 2 mins later and my life signed away into the safety of his hands, its time to get practical.

So, I didn’t mention before I hadn’t thought too much on my attire, except for my huge grin (from nerves and excitement) and my sparkly new helmet (from topgearsuperstore.)
I was donning my huge brown new rock boots, yes new rock you may say, great for biking! Well these have a large platform and heel, photo of these to follow on request!

After a long conversation on these with Kim and Spanky, we decide I will get on the bike and see how it goes, as these boots are more or less attached to my feet at all time, and during many of my daily activities.

Did I say in my last blog that ART provide the basics whilst you train with them? Well I lied. They more or less provide everything you need! I am faced with a wall of new waterproof jackets nicely hung in all sizes, a wall of gloves again hanging in size order. Followed by high-vis vest, trousers (if required,) and helmets. I was very impressed as I remember back in the day of my last CBT it was just a bin full of mismatched gloves, wet jackets, and that was pretty much all they gave you, oh and a helmet that looked like it was just about surviving, and wouldn’t protect anything on impact! I’m told that these types of places are still around training people, basically from a shed with no luxury facilities!

Back to ART, I didn’t mention that they don’t train you from a shed either! They have a large, heated cabin, with chairs, tea and coffee making facilities, and toilets.
If there are any other budding bikers out there I would recommend you think about these things when choosing a training school, as although you are there to ride a bike, all these other things come into play before and after the class.

Ok, so in a nice new waterproof jacket, gloves, helmet, high Vis. All check. All that left is to see if I will be able to ride in my boots. 5mins later on the bike the boots will do the job.

First thing Spanky got me doing was taking the bike of the stand. Great I thought – easy. 5 mins later I’m still tooing and frooing tying to get it off the stand. By this point it feels like 20 mins, and I feel a bit of an idiot! I finally more or less get it. Oh did I mention I’m vertically challenged, standing at 5ft 1”. Yes the 1” is important!

Moving on, I learn 1st gear, and neutral. Again easy you say. 20 mins later im still trying to put it into neutral from first, I start to manage it by going into second, and tapping down. Spanky reassures me that alot of people do this! I have to say it wasn’t the boots, but turns out after years of dancing I don’t have a gentle touch in my feet!

I will just stop there and say by this point I’m starting to think this is not going my way, or maybe I’m just not very good! Spanky is reassuring though, which is slightly helping.

Give it half an hour and I’m flying round the track, stopping at relevant points, and pulling off again. Before I know it Spanky is getting me changing gear, weaving through cones, and doing figures of 8. OK the figures of 8 were quite difficult, and after mild hysteria, managed about 1 decent one. But the gear change etc was going well.

I’d like to point out at this point it was raining quite hard, and I was doing very well, so Spanky was moving me on quickly.
I then had a taster of what’s to come in the CBT, like U turns, emergency stops and using indicators. I can hear all you bikers out there chuckling to yourselves that you don’t think twice about these things when riding now, but try to take yourselves back to being a learner. ;o)

By this point I’m feeling really good, and realised how I hadn’t noticed how quickly a) the time had gone and b), how fast spanky had moved me on. What a great instructor. I would like to add that during some of these tricky manoeuvres, my smile had gone and turned to concentration – sometimes too much. At these points Spanky would yell to me to keep smiling which made me relax, and therefore ride better.

It was such a great experience and has given me a real confidence to go on to do my CBT. The new rider course is such a good idea, and at a price of only £55 for 2 hours hire, it’s a real bargain.

I have now booked onto do my CBT and cant wait. A bit nervous about being outside the confines of the fenced of track that ART have, but I’m sure I will be fine.

Now I’m off to study my highway code a bit more.

Due to the weather no photos, or video was taken during this time, but fingers crossed we will have some road action from my CBT.