Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

Motorbike Licence in the Bag!

September 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Steve's Enduro Africa Blog

It’s a long time since I passed my driving test,so it’s difficult to recall how easy or difficult it was. When I returned to the UK in 1985 I had to take the local test to drive here. The only thing I remember about was taking the test in my brand new Vauxhall Astra GTX (shiny red) and failing. The reason was simple in that the dashboard had one of the first digital displays with very big numbers. The instructor did not fail to notice I occasionally reached 33mph in a 30 zone.

Getting my motorbike licence some 25 years later has been a totally different experience. First of all there is the theory test. This was fairly straightforward after buying the training DVD. The theory test centre in Slough was a shithole however, avoid it if you can!

Then there is the CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) which is a days instruction and practice on the roads. Passing this allows you to ride a 125cc bike (with L-plates) on the road. Following on from this comes Module 1 of the Direct Access licence. This entailed a trip down to Farnborough to an authorised test centre.

It was a lovely sunny morning that we rode down the A30, passing through the leafy suburbs of Wentworth and Sunningdale. Shame however that the whole trip was pretty much in the shade; we were all frozen by the time we got there!

The test itself involved basic bike handling, slow speed manoeuvres and the mandatory emergency stop. I nearly cocked upon one element that involves coming round a bend at around 20mph, then accelerating to no less than 32mph through a speed detector, swerving through a set of cones and coming to a stop in a designated area.

I completely forgot to swerve and went straight towards the examiner. Luckily he saw this coming and let me have another go. Module 1 under the belt.

Three days later I was booked in for module 2 which involves being followed around by an examiner who gives you direction over a radiolink. This was proceeded by an hour or so of further practice. I knew things were not going too well when at the very first roundabout, I am sure I heard the instructor say “go right at the first roundabout”. Right I went, onto the A40 to London. It was soon clear that the other two were not following me. He claims he said “go right over at the first roTest-Certificateundabout”.

I returned to the training centre to await the return of the others. They eventually returned and got me to the test centre just in time for my test. I thought I performed well so was surprised when, back at the test centre, the examiner told me I had failed the test. I made no minor mistakes, just 2 serious ones. I failed to come to a complete stop, determined by (not) putting my foot down at a stop sign. I also rode too close to a car before I overtook it.

These were not bike related issues but more perhaps my general driving habits formed over the years. I had to wait 10 days before being allowed to retake the test. If I failed a second time, I would not have enough time for a further retake before leaving for Africa, if in fact I could still take part.

Fortunately, apart from one minor fault (momentarily following too close to van), I passed second time round!

Many thanks to Graham, Chris and Rob at Passmasters for all their help.

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