Hello and welcome to Alex's Blog. This blog will be useful to anyone who is thinking of getting their bike licence! J&S HQ's very own Steve The Dream TM has been a car lover all his life but by being surrounded by bikes all day long day in, day out, this has given him a hankering for a bike...so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to document a new biker's journey from the very start. From his CBT and beyond...if he gets past the CBT... will he? To find out read on...
Here at J&S HQ, we are lucky enough to not only have an onsite cafe but there is also a motorcycle training school based on our site: RJH Motorcycles. Where better, under their expert guidance, for Steve The Dream (TM) to undertake his CBT? I'm going to hand you over to Steve now to tell you how it went:
"I am a keen mountain biker and have ridden bikes (bicycles) for years and being surrounded by bikes everyday here it piqued my interest. Ade from our Northwich store made a custom build cafe racer bike which gave me real bike envy, so I decided to finally take the plunge and take my CBT.
Working at J&S (as the graphic designer extraordinaire - Alex) getting clothed for it wasn't an issue - but I didn't know if I was going to like it yet, so I borrowed some kit. Very handy.
I turned up in earnest bright and early at RJH Motorcycle Training to be greeted by Sylvia, my instructor, with my driving licence and my (clean) driving record from the DVLA. I brought my own kit (borrowed from J&S) as this is usually when you'd get sized up for borrowing kit for the day.
At the start of the day they go through what happens on the CBT. You need to fill in forms etc. You are then talked through the different safety kit you need to wear on the bike. Luckily, I am very familiar with all this from working here so this bit was very easy (although still useful!) You then get a quiz on road signs. I was weirdly nervous considering I have been driving ten years, but I passed.
A question and answer session about motorcycle safety etc to make sure you've been listening and then outside to read a number plate from 20.5 metres. All of this is obviously to make sure you're fit to ride, able to ride and competent. With all the t's crossed and the i's dotted, we could start on the exciting stuff......the bike!
I then had to familiarise myself with the basics of the bike. Push it, put it on the side stand, basic maintenance about oil, the brakes, electrics, suspension, tyres, chain, oil, petrol, steering and signals. Everything was obviously ok with the bike provided, then I learned how to take it off the side stand in a sitting position and started her up!!
The first bit consisted of riding around RJH's compound learning how to stop, move off smoothly and safely as well as steering slowly - which is harder than it looks. I learned how to do U-turns, emergency stops going through the gears and figures of eight and going through cones etc. We also went through road positioning on a bike (very different than in a car) indication, making yourself known on the road at junctions etc.
I also learned about the "Lifesaver" which is where you look over your shoulders thoroughly - it literally is a lifesaver for bikers. Being a cyclist, this part didn't come naturally to me and at first, I kept forgetting but Sylvia eventually drummed it in to me.
After a short break we were back at it! I familiarised myself with the controls, read the manual about conduct on the road with Sylvia and set up the intercom for when we were going to be out on the road! (for two hours in the COLD!) So, this was it, crunch time (or hopefully NOT) me, out on the open road for the first time...with two instructors for company.
I was nervous despite the tuition and being confident that I had a grasp of the controls and signals etc. It didn't help that even before we got on the road, I nearly got side swiped by a van entering J&S! Showing the real danger faced by bikers at every turn! Luckily, I had positioned myself correctly, so nothing happened, but had I not been this would have been a very different story.
We set off, got to a main junction on a fast-moving road and I couldn't believe how fast 50 Mph felt on a motorbike. When I saw the bike, I was going to be learning on I thought it looked very small - and considering I want a cafe racer I didn't think it would have much poke! I underestimated how powerful it would feel out on the road.
I also couldn't believe the wind! It wasn't a particularly windy day, but the bike didn't have a screen and I just never realised the impact of wind from all sides on you as a biker! I went from feeling very tentative and timid on the bike to becoming bolder as time went on. The more I rode, two hours on the surrounding roads, the more confident and comfortable I felt. I wanted to carry on when the two hours was up!
While out for two hours I practiced the manoeuvres out on the road, did an emergency stop, we did a U-turn (a few times) pulled up safely at the side of the road, lots of practice at junctions and roundabouts as well as loads of "Lifesavers". I made a few mistakes at first, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and by the end of it I decided that this was for me...so I will be going for my test with the help of RJH Motorcycle Training...watch this space for the next step in my progress at becoming a fully-fledged biker."
If you want to actually SEE Steve The Dream out on his CBT, then check out this video from our YouTube channel:
Until next time, stay safe,