Richard Sinclair is usually found on the advertising team at MoreBikes HQ – but after years of working around motorcycles, this week he is finally taking the plunge and getting his licence! He’s joined the guys at BMW Rider Training for a week of intensive training…
Well what a first day training this turned out to be, I woke up and was ready to leave the house for 6am to make the journey down to Royston, Hertfordshire for what I thought was going to be a hectic day.
The car was frozen, ice on the road and at that point I thought… what have I let myself in for?! To be honest, I was a little apprehensive but hadn’t had time to worry too much, apart from the last few days trying to find everything I needed from thermals to my theory test certificate…
The first day was more relaxed then I expected, Julie – my instructor for the weekend – and I had a good discussion about what was going on for the week, we did a eye test which was easy enough and then went on to try some kit out… the day seemed to fly by, and whilst I was expecting to do my Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) on the Saturday, it was good to know that I would be doing it over the whole weekend. Plus the fact it was only me, meant I would benefit more from the 1 – 2 – 1 sessions. I’d be on a Honda CBF125 for the first two days while I complete my CBT – the BMW’s are for later in the week.
We started off with getting to know your bike – it was time for me to learn some acronyms to remember the daily/weekly checks:
BESTCOPS – weekly / fortnightly checks – Brakes, Electrics, Steering, Tyres, Chain, Oil, Petrol and Suspension.
BOLTS – everyday – Brakes, Oil, Lights, Tyres and Steering
After this I was manoeuvring the motorcycle around the car park, getting used to looking over my shoulder, the weight of the bike and how effective the front brake was.
After more tea, I was kitted out. All the motorcycle gear they lend you is BMW branded and is really good quality. I was given a pair of textile trousers and jacket along with gloves and a flip up helmet. The textiles are waterproof, meaning I should stay dry all week – after checking the weather forecast I am sure I will have chance to test this out.
So it was off to the training pad, with the bike to learn getting used to the motorcycle…before I knew it I was doing a whole length of the pad. I found throttle control the hardest to get used to, as the tiniest amount of movement seemed to make the bike rev much further than needed and make the bike sound like it was being over worked.
Weaving in and out of the cones was my favourite part of the day, as it happened not long after doing figure of 8s around the course, so doing tighter turns and more quickly was rewarding to pick up quickly.
The last part of practical was pretending to stop at junctions, which we only touched base on. As there was more going on it proved the hardest of the day, but this is where I will be starting day two, so can’t wait.
One thing that really does work – and even if you think you sound like an idiot, do give it a try. Julie advised me to talk out loud to myself (repeating what I needed to do on any given task) to stop any distractions, and allow me to focus on what I was doing. Even though you are there to learn, its surprising how easily your mind can wonder, its probably just looking for a break from all the information it needs to absorb, but if you talk through your actions it helps massively.
After all this we turned back to the class room to go through some more theory, we talked about different riding conditions, positions, road signs etc.
Thanks to Julie, she was really patient, entertaining and informative, you can tell she does this job for the love of it and is really passionate about motorcycling in general… Julies covers 2,500 miles a month on her bike, compared to just 200 in her car and has been riding for 15 years, as well as doing some observation work for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I couldn’t have asked for a better day start to motorcycling.
Right time for a bath, need to learn not to be so tense…..
Want to find out more about learning to ride with BMW? Visit the website at www.worldofbmw.com to find the best course for you.