NOT so long ago, I was hopping on a bike for pretty much the first time in my life.
Now here I was, a little over two months later, riding with my instructor towards Kettering to take my Module 2 test – the final hurdle that would allow me to hit the roads on whatever set of two wheels I fancy.
This test had actually become the bane of my life. Having done the theory test, the CBT and Module 1, and got plenty of road miles under my belt in the process, the momentum was in my favour. All I wanted to do was get the final piece of the jigsaw slotted into place and be on my way.
However, the coldest winter on record was conspiring against me and the first test I had booked was cancelled about 30 minutes before it was due to take place thanks to icy roads. In fact, the examiner was amazed we were even out in the first place.
But hey, I’m a dedicated sort and a little bit of the white stuff wasn’t going to stop me and my instructor. In all fairness, the roads were actually fine until we arrived in Kettering, where a frost was quite visible, particularly on the side roads.
So the decision was made for us and it was back home and wait for Horizon Rider Training to contact me with a new test date.
The next date I was offered was a no-go because of work – and as it happens would probably have been cancelled again anyway following another heavy snowfall.
After what seemed like an eternity I was offered another test date, but I’d need another six hours of lessons the day before. A quick call to the boss and I’d managed to blag some time off and it was all systems go!
The day before the test it was up to Kettering for a day’s training with Martin Nurton, owner of Milton Keynes-based Horizon (01908 694333, www.horizonridertraining.co.uk).
Everything I had been taught in all my previous lessons was subjected to intense scrutiny by Martin ready for the big day.
And when that day came, everything finally slotted into place. The ride from Rushden, where we collected the bikes, to Kettering was a dream. Everything just felt right – either that or Martin just didn’t want me going into the test with a load of his criticisms rattling around my head!
First up was the eyesight test – could I read a number plate from 20ft away? This was shortly after all the snow had cleared, but people still hadn’t got round to cleaning their cars yet. I gave the examiner the plate number more as a question than a statement of fact, but he was happy and it was on to the next stage – show and tell time.
Show him how the horn works, tell him how I would check the oil, and tell him what adjustments I would make when carrying a pillion.
Satisfied with my answers, it was on my bike, and off we went. The early nerves soon disappeared once we hit the streets and main roads and before I knew it we were back at the test centre.
The time had flown by and I was sure I’d made some serious error and been brought back early. I’d also missed a road sign he’d asked me to look for – although that isn’t actually a failable offence. As long as what you do is done safely and doesn’t interfere with another road user’s speed or direction, the examiner will just re-route you. In theory you could spend the whole test going in whichever direction you like – as long as it’s safe and correct you probably won’t fail!
Back in the examiner’s office I was sat down and immediately told that I’d passed, with just two minor faults. I felt like a 17-year-old learner again – I punched the air like a footballer who’d just scored a goal and yelled “Get in!”
The ride home was, in my very limited experience, the best I’ve ever had. No radio contact with Martin, just follow him home but I was on my own, making my own decisions. Awesome. The grin still hasn’t left my face. And I look forward to many more rides like that to come. I’ve got the category A entitlement on my licence – all I need now is a bike!
More information on getting on two wheels is available from the motorcycle industry’s campaign aimed at recruiting more new riders. Full details, including how to claim an hour’s free ride to see if you like it, are available on the website at www.geton.co.uk