Well, the nerves, revision and preparation all paid off and I pass the Mod 1 low speed handling test this morning. At 8am myself, Kevin the other trainee and Nick the instructor all met at the office to do some last minute revision before heading over to the test centre in Solihull. It was good to spend another 30 or so minutes going through any manouvers that we each felt weak on, and Nick had made sure that his training was in much less space than allowed on the test. So when the real thing came we had far more room to play in.
After a quick pee and a cuppa we set off for the 1 hr 10 minute ride to the test centre. This was a real baptism of fire as en route we experienced road works, a fire engine on an emergency, lots of roundabouts, fast country roads and slow suburbs, complete with buses and pedestrians. Nearer the huge test centre there was a steady stream of learner drivers coming in, some very hesitant, and a sprinking of fellow bike tests. One moment that made my morning was a RAF C17 Globemaster on short finals to Birmingham Airport - it passed right over our heads and cleared the road by about 100 feet. An amazing sight and I was in exactly the right place at the right time.
We arrived at around 10.50am and parked, then made our way into the centre where Kevin was called first. This gave me the chance to see his test outside and also hear some of his comments as mine was not booked until 11.50am. When it was my turn I was introduced to the examiner and then we wnt outside to the test ground. The whole thing is over in abount 15 minutes, plus a 5 minute debrief, and for those of your keeping score I received 2 minor faults out of a possible 5. One major or 6 minor faults is an instant test failure.My two were both for insufficient speed on the 30mph emergency stop/hazard avoidance, although you are allowed one second attempt to go quicly enough which I did and passed.
The ride back was enjoyable, much more smooth than the ride in, and I really started to understand the draw of biking. There is a lot of emphasis in making progress - that is, if you leave a 30mph zone into a 60mph zone then get up to 60 asap, assuming it is safe to do so. Use the power of the bike to accelerate away, use the brakes to slow you down closer to roundabouts than I would perhaps do in a car, etc etc. It is a different was of driving for me - in the Land Rover I have to be very defensive as there is virtually no power to speak of so manoeuvres take a lot of time - overtakes are virtually never performed as I cannot get past other vehicles. On a bike there is power to spare so I am expected to use it.
Once back there was time for lunch and a brief bit of theory about road positioning especially on roundabouts and juctions, and also discussion about an overtake we had made where my positioning left a lot to be desired! Tomorrow I will be with another, different trainee, and we will be spending the whole day riding various test routes around Banbury this time and doing mock tests, as earliy (8am) on Thursday morning is the MOD 2 on road test. I will lead with an instructor following me, giving directions and observing how I interact with other traffic. This time, unlike the last three days, hw will not be telling me what to do in the earpiece, only saying "take the next left" and such, so I will really have to be on the ball.
Finally this afternoon, for a complete contrast and way of relaxing I drove round to the nearby Gliding Club to see if I could have a flight. It is over 15 years since I last flew in a glider and being such a nice day I was looking forward to it, but the chief instructor was unwilling to fly with someone who has epilepsy without a doctor's note, so I had to leave it. Maybe another time.