# 4 - Lesson 1 on a 125cc

CBT in hand I arrive back at ART training after battling with the 20 mile queue in my car on the A23, one of the reasons why a bike is much more handy!

Anyway arrive late, apologising to Graham. it turns out that the other guy I’m spending the day with on a bike is also late due to the delays, caused by a motorbike and a car, wont go into details.

Not to worry, I get a heads up by getting back on the bike in the training area before he arrives. A few circles round, U-turns etc, and he arrives.

I have a quick break while he warms up, and then were off.

This time as we approach the road I feel much more confident, albeit raining harder than I think I have seen in a good few months.

As we take on the country roads, there is a lot of surface water, which is making me on edge, trying to do all my pre planning seems to go out the window as I approach large areas of water that look like lakes when approaching them on a bike.

After bending and weaving down the country lanes I’m feeling good.

Although after an hour or so at a complicated junction I nervously end up dropping through the gears too quickly, hitting the back brake, the back wheel slips on the road. So now my heart is in my mouth, but I’m still rubber side down.

How exhilarating I thought! I have to say I wouldn't have thought it if I was on my backside and the bike was 30 feet in front of me!

Anyway onwards and upwards.
Another hour into it we decide to stop and have a bite to eat. At this point I have to add I’m getting a little damp in places due to the amount of water falling from the sky. As were having a laugh, and chat about the last few hours and waiting for my greasy lunch I look outside at the torrential downpour!
I can’t believe I have to go back out.

After a large mug of tea, and lunch I feel ready again to go out. I’m amazed at how much brain power riding uses. I’m sure it will get easier!

In the afternoon we go through mini roundabouts, and counter steering (where by you steer the bike by leaning in the direction you wish to go rather than turning the front end of the bike, which we were apparently doing before Graham told us how. Now we have to consciously think about it I’m having trouble, I’m sure I will get it back?

Another hour or two I feel myself making stupid mistakes, I’m turning into tired and grumpy Binny!

We go over left and right turns from and onto major/minor roads. By this time my feet and hands are soaked, I’m also freezing.

Mental note after today’s class go and get some weather proof clothing, gloves at the least.

As we finish off and head back to the school, I know a good day’s work has been done, and with Graham’s great tuition I have learnt a lot more.

He is pleased with my riding, and says I'm a confident rider. Due to my stature another day is possibly required on a 125cc before I move up to the 500, mainly because of the size and weight of the bike.

With the weather starting to get better already I can’t wait till my next class.
Look out for my next blog coming soon when I get leathered up!

Until next time.

Al's blurb

Hello, welcome to Al's blurb, a blog from the world of freelance motorbikng journalism.

Every couple of weeks I'll be updating you with some of the back story stuff, unpublished pics and any insider stuff that ukbike.com can get away with printing without being sued.

Hopefully you'll like it enough to keep coming back for more. Comments or emails are welcome, but don't expect replies to random abuse, I get that from half my editors as it is...

Lately then, I have been mainly gathering material for The Cafe Racer Phenomenon book, which is due out with Veloce Books in August 2009. Some great interviews with riders who were active in the 60s, 70s and 80s, modifying bikes, going to The Ace, Calypso, Station Cafe at Tamworth, Johnsons on the A20 etc. Interviewed Paul Dunstall a couple of weeks back and found it fascinating to hear how he got into the tuning and customising business. Just made a few sets of spare exhausts for his own Norton Dommie racer, then people came in the shop asking for a set...took off from there. Within a few years sponsoring Ray Pickrell, beating factory Nortons and a 64 page catalogue mail order business worldwide.

It's the grass roots stuff that brings a book like this alive though... talked to a guy called Pete Schneider, he met his wife-to-be via building a cafe racer - a Yank mag wanted a pretty girl sat on the bike for a feature, so Pete recalled a girl who was a nice looker from school, asked her to pose, chatted her up and ended up marrying her!

I'm all fired up getting the social side of it, the human stories in there, as well the usual stuff about the bikes themselves. Another guy told me how he built a bike inside a council flat in the early 70s, then took the front end off - having tested it by running the bike in the flat - and transported it downstairs for his first road run in the lift. Brilliant.

Otherwise, I have been at Trade Expo and the MCN London Show.

The Trade Expo has all the new kit for the year for the dealers to look at and some things caught my eye; Bering have some waterproof leathers, lovely Segura stuff...plus BLH budget gear and the Trophy group who own Bering/Segura also had some natty scooter aprons for 2009. I liked the retro Lancaster leather jacket that BKS/Frank Thomas have for this season, but then I am an old giffer...

Delkevic in Stoke are gearing up to do loads more products in 2009 - radiators, exhausts, slip-ons - they have a new system for the old Honda CBX1000 six, plus a system for the VFR 750 FR-FV models.

Highway Hawk had adjustable bar risers for cruiser bikes, dead simple idea, yet effective, just rotate the bars through about 90 degrees, as well as gaining the extra couple of inches height by fitting `em. Cool.

The word from Mike at Victory UK is that the US brand is gonna do some work with Hawg Haven, on creating a limited edition Victory later in 09 - should be good, Hawg Haven have done show-winning bikes in the past, some featured on the Carole Nash stands at the NEC.

I heard from a classic bike dealer yesterday that one guy took his life savings out of the bank recently, bought a Gold Star and Velo Venom, had the fluids drained from the bikes, and keeps them in his living room as a better, safer type of investment. Let's face it, you get cock-all interest from the badly run banks these days...

Got me thinking, out of today's cheaper bikes, which might be classics? Hard to pick out something like a Goldie, a bespoke racer, as they don't really make stuff like that these days, but I guess an early twin headlamp Fireblade, 98 Yamaha R1 or maybe a Kawasaki ZXR750 can only go up in value if you find an unmolested example..? Otherwise the rare modern machines like RC30s, Duke 916 SP, Bimota Tesi/SB6R etc is already at classic Britbike money.

all for now, Al the Blurb.

#3 - CBT

With my confidence blooming after my new rider course, I’m ready for the CBT (I think?)

So there is myself and four other guys. One is training up to be a new instructor and the other three are in the same position as me.

Graham and Steve are our instructors for the day.

After having a coffee, and meeting the other guys and sharing riding experiences (or lack of) also discussing pet stories (how random!) its time to go through official bits and pieces.

Driving license – check, plus going through helmet and relevant first sections of the CBT syllabus, and plan for the rest of the day. Including clothing, protective/safety gear, this was module A. I have to say though I was very surprised to learn that legally in the UK; the only protective item you need to wear is a helmet! Now obviously I have a while before I start riding like Lady Godiva, but seriously just a helmet! I just want to take this moment for anyone thinking of going out for a ride with no protective gear on. Think again, you only get this set of skin!Module BThis is where we get introduced to the bike (again in some cases) learn some basic maintenance, special emphasis on safety, and proceed to remove and replace the bike on the stand.
If you read my last blog, I wasn’t too hot at this, but this time it came quite easily you will be pleased to know!
Module CThis is where you start learning to ride, beginning with moving off and stopping and developing your skills through a variety of exercises until you are readyto go on the road.
After doing the above on the new rider course I was so ready and just as good (if not better than my peers, who had all ridden before) well done me! Ok well done Graham, he is a great tutor, and apparently no-one rides better than him. He will love the fact I have mentioned that!
So at this point all was going well until one of our fellow students lost the knack of clutch control, and took a stumble off the bike! To which the two other guys and myself got quite shaken by. Not even mentioning the guy who came off!
He wasn’t hurt, and got back on, ready to go again. Anyway after some 1-2-1 tuition of the slow clutch control, again he lost his confidence and came off, luckily missing the metal fence by about a foot!
At this point he was advised to take a break. Then had to be booked back in for another session. We did feel for him, as we had started the day well together as a group.
Well onwards and upwards, it was time for some lunch!Module DThis is a classroom based session about how to ride on the road safely. You are expected to already have a good understanding of the Highway Code. I have to say we all did, although Graham may quote me on that! Ok, so maybe we had got a little lazy as we are all car drivers and have been for a fair few years. So back to swotting up on this area!Module EMinimum (legal requirement) two hour road ride. (Your instructor will issue you with a radio, ready for your on-road session. This will last at least two hours, and will involve a variety of roads. There will be regularstops to discuss aspects of the ride, with debriefing sessions and discussion of various road hazards.)
By this point I was very excited about getting on the road. The other two guys went with Graham and I had Steve.
So I was ready until all module D started going round in my head, about what happens when you come off, and slide etc. Especially now out of the confines of the safe iron fence. Now there are cars and lorries to contend with.

Nerves aside I put my ear piece in, and get communicated with Steve.
So when you’re ready of we go…
A shaky start I’m faced straight away with gravel! I slowly go across and get to the road. My heart starts pounding and I suddenly feel very vulnerable. I didn’t think I would feel so exposed. After driving for 11 years you begin to feel a little indestructible on the roads. Now all of that has gone and a little slip and I could be under the car over the other side of the road!
I hear a voice in my ear then giving me confidence and guiding me where to go. Steve was very reassuring, and a great instructor! Although at some points I would have rathered him actually being on the bike with me!

Checking my speedo, I realise I’m bombing along at a not very respectable 30mph on a 50mph road!

Anyway an hour or so later were getting up to the appropriate speeds no problem. At this point when you have the open road in front of you, you feel so free on a bike. I have to also say it is so fun!

Although Steve will hate me saying this, as you’re going along at such speeds the thought goes through your head “what if I were just to let go?”
No need for answers on a postcode, I do know.

Before I knew it it was over and we were back at the school. I was very tired but pleased to say I got my CBT, and so did the two other guys.

Thanks so much to ART for getting me through, and look forward to my next lesson with you!