The reason for this journey is to start an intensive 3 1/2 day Direct Access motorbike course, with a training school in the area. 2-3 weeks ago I decided on a whim to take my CBT, that is the compulsory basic training that allows a driver to ride any motorbike up to 125cc, with L plates, on any road apart from motorways. I did this one Sunday at A1 Roadcraft in Netherhamton and was sold on the idea immediately. Riding a motorbike is like a push bike in that you can enjoy the countryside, but you also make real progress and when you come to a hill there is power on tap to take you up.
As part of my preparations for the CBT I had also taken and passed my Theory test. This is critical, for without the Theory you cannot progress any further and you a stuck with the CBT restrictions. So clutching shiny new certificates I arrived this morning at the offices of Bike-Moore. This is run by Emma and Nick Moore and has been going at its present site since July 2010. I was immediately impressed by the clean offices and new equipment on show, as I had been by their website and response to my initial enquiry.
Today's training assumes that you know and are happy with the basics as these have been covered in the CBT. No time is spent goign through the controls of the bike, or which end is the fast end, as really that should be pretty obvious at this stage. We are riding 650cc machines - a big step up in power, weight and speed from the 125cc on which I did my CBT. Some riders will chose to spend some time on a 125cc leaning the ropes - maybe 6 months or so, before going on to the bigger one, some might never move up, others like myself jump in at the deep end!
My initial thoughts were that the bigger machine, while heavier, has more power on tap which is no bad thing. It comes on smoothly and in a controllable fashion, so providing you are smooth with the controls you will be fine. The exercises we have practised today are the low speed, off-road manoeuvres that make up the MOD 1 test, without which you cannot progress onto MOD 2 which is the monitored on-road section. Basically this means practising a U-turn, slalom, figure-of-eight, slow ride, emergency stop and hazard avoidance.
I have struggled today with putting all the necessary items in the right order. Back brake, front brake, clutch, throttle, steering, lifesaver and observation checks all need to be done in a certain order so that the bike stays smooth and controlled. However too and from the main practice area we spent around 20 minutes on the road each way, and here I felt much more relaxed. Nick my instructor said he was happy so far so I hope that this is the case. Tomorrow morning we will have another couple hours of practice before heading over to Solihull (about 1 hr) to the test centre. Fingers crossed!
You can find the Bike-Moore website here: http://bike-moore.co.uk/