2012 Header
'Paul's Testing Time 
I read Big Rog's write up of getting riding, and thought it was pretty similar to my own experience!

In 1989 I had a Suzuki FZ50 as soon as I could legally ride it, as it had been my Dads, and had sat in the back yard of our pub for 4 years. It was only a twist’n’go, but it still worked and got me around for a while, before I broke it spectacularly by not putting any oil in it and trying to ride it around in the Duke of Bedford’s woods with all my mates who had trials bikes.
Not having taken the hint that I couldn’t (can’t) be trusted with motorised transport, my parents then bought me a Honda C90C moped. This had gears, (two I think) which basically meant I was able to break it even faster.
That lasted less than a year.

By then I was able to get a car. End of 2 wheeled exploits. But while I rode those two mean machines, I was always in full rocker leathers, often with my cut-off on top, covered in offensive badges and bits of bar towel etc., with a copy of BSH sticking out of the topbox, and the whole scene never really left me.
So here I am, 22 years later, finally with the money, space and time to do it properly. So I did the theory test in October 2011, and booked up the Direct Access training straight after. The theory test I sailed through, and the CBT, which was spent with a lady redoing hers for the third 2 year period, and a lad of 18 who had failed the day before. That done, I completed the Part 1 training. The swerve test was the worst of it, having to push towards the hazard so the bike went the other way was totally counter-intuitive. Eventually, the trainer put me on the back of his bike to show me how to do it properly, but that didn’t help much, as I had my eyes shut and was praying a lot. I’ve never been on the back of a bike before….
He also showed us how to do the emergency stop, but over did it and pulled a huge front wheelie!

In the part 1 test, the only mark down I had was entering the emergency stop run up at 47 Kph instead of 50 Kph. But they passed me. Then a few other things got in the way, and it was Christmas, so it was Jan 8th 2012 before I could start the Part 2. Two three-hour lessons, back to back, quickly showed me the benefit of getting some winter gloves and Damart underwear. Every time we stopped anywhere I was off the bike and clutching the instructors heated handlebars, sometimes while he was still holding them himself.
This was all done around Kettering in Northants, near where my trainer lives and where the test would be. But I had left it a month since being on a bike, and I found it difficult. The test day arrived, and we set off, after the tester had reminded me to do my helmet up… to find Kettering was awash with diesel, kerb to kerb, all through the town centre! We had to reroute, and I pulled out onto a dual carriage way leaving the tester still waiting and didn’t see him again for 10 minutes. That, coupled with stalling on a roundabout, squeezing though an amber light too late and locking up the back wheel when stopping at another meant rebooking the Part 2. But after another days training, the second time I passed with flying colours.

I was then able to get the kind of Virago I had been looking at, (cheap, low mileage, original-ish) and discovered there was an Owners Club for such things, and became a Vulture. I’ve been able to get down to a couple of the Chinnor meets, and on a run out, despite the bl@@dy awful weather we’ve had this year, and I ride it every day to work. So its been money well spent as far as I’m concerned. The training regulations are set to change this year, and all the riding instructors I spoke to said it would be getting harder and more expensive, so if you have a friend who shows an interest, get them started now.

I wish I had listened and done this years ago!

Paul  C-12