Friday, July 14, 2017

Were Does The Time Go??

I just can't keep up lately!!!!  Don't seem to have enough time to blog, to train as much as I'd like, or get on top of the laundry, or work!!!!  As I tell Tuxedo my cat every morning, sorry mate, I can't stay & play, I have to get back onto the hamster wheel!!!!

Anyhoo.  I did make time to do something recently, but let me set the scene first 😊

Those of you who know me in real life know that Plumbing Boy is into dirt bikes; so much in fact over the past 10 years that I've been know to call myself a dirt bike widow on weekends while he's off gallivanting on his dirt bike with nae a care for his better half.

He's never been interested in riding on the road, however a lot of his mates are getting into adventure biking (as far as I can tell its a cross between dirt bike riding & road riding), as the degree of difficulty in the dirt biking style they like to do & the potential for injury is getting a bit much for some of his crew.

When my cousin who has headed off  oversea's indefinitely asked him if we could baby sit her road bike & take it for a ride from time to time, he reluctantly agreed, saying it wasn't really his thing.  She bought it over & it's been hanging out in our carport for almost 3 months.  Until last weekend, when I took it for a spin.

Somehow I managed to agree to getting my motor bike learners, if my cousin agreed to getting her advanced open water scuba ticket!!!  

In Australia, the process for getting your bike licence has changed recently & I went on a 2 day course.  I haven't grown up riding dirt bikes - even though I was on a farm, we only had 3 & 4 wheelers by the time I was old enough to ride.  I have had a go on a dirt bike, but wasn't overly confident & attended the course with an open mind hoping that the instructor would teach me to ride.  My cuz said it was a pretty cruizy course & lots of fun.

Hmmm.  Day 1 was both practical & theory; at the end of the day we had to sit the written test, which I passed no problem.  The practical though was another matter.  I was very very nervous & struggled with taking off without stalling & coming to a gentle stop without stalling!  

Slept terribly that night knowing the practical was the following day & that I was even less confident after day 1 than I was prior!  Day 2 was more practical & while I was doing well in 2nd gear & doing the required swerving at speed & acing the emergency stopping, I still struggled while taking off & coming to a smooth confident stop without putting my feet down &/or stalling the bike. 

The instructor did not put me at ease & instead of helping me decided shouting at me that I wasn't listening to him would help.  It did not help nor improve matters.  I wasn't the only one he yelled at by the way; but it was pretty horrible.

Finally it was time for the practical test.  I took out a witches cone in the first 2 minutes & stalled the bike. Then managed to stall it 2 more times over the next 30 seconds so it was all over red rover for me.  

I had to wait while the others all attempted the test; we ended up with 4 passes & 2 fails overall.  Myself & the guy who also failed were excused & the others had to go on & do an on road assessment.  No idea if they all passed or not but I hope so.

The course is structured so that if you fail you can come back as many times as you need to pass (although my sister said if I failed 3 times then perhaps it would be time to face the fact that motorbike riding just wasn't for me LOL).  

I had 2 options; repeat the Sunday in 2 weeks or wait 5 as I was going away for a running event on the Gold Coast at the end of the month.  I figured sooner was better than later - get back on the horse, strike while the iron is hot etc etc.

I considered having a private lesson, but there were none available after hours.  EEEK.  PB to the rescue - he borrowed a kids/teenagers dirt bike & arranged a place close by where I could practice.  I was so stressed out that he was going to teach me bad habits that would fail me - don't worry, he tried!!!  

So we went for a practice for a few hours on the Sunday the weekend before my repeat & I was still not great; then again on the day before the repeat where I finally managed to start & stop without too much effort.  I had to apply driving my car to riding the bike I guess.  The instructor taught us to brake & then pull the clutch in at the last minute as you are coming to a stop.  When I drive I tend to do this in reverse, clutch goes in & then I come to a slow stop using the brake.

Using this method, I already had the clutch in so couldn't really stall it.  Then PB reinforced the need on a bike to ride the clutch as you take off (you wont damage a bike, unlike the car) - you don't let it all the way out until you have both feet comfortably on the pegs!

Sunday arrived & I wasn't sure if I would be pleased to see the same instructor - to have at least one friendly face if I was going to be joining a group who'd spent the previous day together - or not. 

Thankfully I had a different instructor who was just lovely both in the class room & out on the range.  He was so encouraging & if we didn't get something right or he could see we were feeling uncomfortable, he'd take us aside & have a quite chat while everyone else kept practising what ever we were doing.

The group were fantastic too - it really helped that there were 2 other girls doing the course & they were super friendly & welcoming; made me feel like I was part of the group.  

After 3.5 hours out on the practice range it was time again to do the practical exam.  I volunteered to go first, explaining that if I was going to fail in spectacular fashion for the 2nd time, I'd rather get it over & done with.  

No one else wanted to go first so off I went with the instructor while the rest of the group sorted out their order (first time around we didn't have a choice, we were told what order to do it in).  Thankfully I passed with flying colours.  

I had one safety item (forgot 1 head check) & that was it.  The rest of the group did their test, 2 out of 3 guys failed (all on safely items - they were really good riders too), 1 guy & the other two girls passed which meant we had 4 left for the on road assessment.

We did a couple of laps of the practice range to make sure everyone could change up into 3rd & 4th gear (the rest of the course is done in 1st & 2nd) & then followed the instructor out onto the main road into a 70km per hour speed zone & traffic!!  Yikes!

Down the main road & into a small housing estate & we had to take it in turns of leading the pack firstly anti clock wise (all left hand turns) then clock wise (all right hand turns) around a big block while the instructor marked us on our skills (indicating, checking for traffic, riding position on the road, adjusting riding position on the road when confronted with traffic or other hazards etc).  

Thankfully we all passed & once the paper work was completed, we were free to go & ride a bike if we had one, displaying L plates & wearing a bright yellow or orange safety vest as is the new requirement for at least the next 3 months!

I was so relieved.  This is possibly one of the most stressful things I have every done.  I was a nervous wreck I tells you!  Fast forward a couple of weeks as I had my trip to the Gold Coast the weekend after the resit & I finally had time to go for my first official ride.  

PB came with me to make sure I was OK.  My cousin's bike is 400 & the ones we used in the course were 125's so is heaps heavier & I was apprehensive for the first 5 minutes, but she did tell me it is super easy to ride & of course she was right! 

We putted around a small industrial estate 1/2 a km from home first so I could practice turning left & right; indicating; coming to stop at stop signs; giving way at give way signs & generally getting comfortable on the bike with not to much traffic.  

We set off at 7am & it was 6 degrees.  I froze!!!  Had to pull over after 30 minutes & defrost my fingers on the engine/exhaust air!  Finally  the sun came out & I was a bit warmer, so we left the industrial estate for a more main road & headed into Williamstown via the beach road for coffee!  

After coffee we rode a bit more around Williamstown & then back home safely.  Rode for 2.5 hours with a 20 minute coffee stop.  So there you have it.  One more thing for me to lose time (& money) on!!!!  Thankfully I fit into my cousins jacket, helmet & gloves.  Had to purchase some Kevlar jeans to get me started & I'm still wearing my hiking boots until I decide what boots to get.

Oh, & what was PB riding around town on with me? Surely not his beloved dirt bike?? No.  Sometime while I was booking & doing my course he managed to buy himself an adventure bike (the guy he bought it from's wife was having a baby & they needed the funds, so of course he had to help him out by taking the bike off his hands).  It would seem if you cant beat them, join them!