I passed my CBT last summer with CAM Rider and must admit I was surprised I passed.
Looking back at handling my first 125cc motorcycle are memories of excruciating pain in my crotch and a thumping heart rate after accidently pulling a wheelie on the first roundabout just moments after leaving CAM Rider headquarters!
Little did I know that there was more pain yet to come. After passing, I was entrusted with a brand new Honda CBR125R as a longtermer from MCN.
You couldn’t keep me off the skinny little Honda! We were inseparable and after riding absolutely everywhere for 3 months, I clocked up over 3000 miles, but then the pain kicked in.
I had an accident on my way home from work on the A1 and was lucky to only escape with a broken wrist. I decided almost by the time I stepped into the ambulance that I was not cut out for riding and would never do so again.
I loved riding, I really did, but something told me that this was a warning to quit while I could still work. One of the paramedics in the ambulance was owned of Honda VFR800 and pleaded with me not to give it up. But I had made up my mind.
After a few pins, a metal plate in my left wrist and six weeks off work eight months past and I felt the urge to give motorbike riding another chance. I revised and past my theory test then decided to book my A2 license test (meaning I would be restricted to 33bhp for two years).
I rang CAM Rider and they suggested I have a free riding assessment to see how much training I needed before my test.
On the morning of my riding assessment, the first thing I did was look out the window to see that the weather was awful. It had rained all night and was still going.
I turned up to CAM Rider and got kitted up. I hadn’t ridden for 8 months and it was wet, cold and there was a lot of traffic.
I was given a Yamaha SJ125 and we were on our way. Myself, and the instructor went for a short ride and did a few manoeuvres via radio, which took around 20 minutes.
I was told that I needed to brush up on most things but would only need to book in for a two day test.
I met my instructor Rory and he explained what the training would involve and asked about my riding background. I explained to him that I had been in an accident and didn’t have a great deal of experience or confidence.
We left for a ride around town with me leading under Rory’s instructions via radio.
We did some junctions and roundabouts. He immediately saw my weaknesses and tested me by riding down the left side of me when turning left into junctions. It freaked me out but I didn’t do anything about it and carried on regardless of a few close shaves between us.
We pulled over after 15 minutes of riding and Rory explained that my awareness and positioning was terrible and could have been the reason why I had my accident.
This was the reason why he was driving down the left side of me on corners and left turns and the fact that I did nothing to stop him by correcting my riding was worrying to say the least.
I knew I wasn’t the best rider in the world but didn’t quite realise how bad. However, Rory assured me that all was not lost and he would have me ready for my test the next day.
After a days riding, everything had been ironed out and I was twice the rider I was in the morning thanks to Rory’s help and encouragement. I felt reasonably confident but at the same time, was eager for the few more hours practice I had in the morning before riding to the test centre.
A wet Saturday morning, Rory didn’t do the weekends and I was given a different bike. Not the best start but I persevered.
A guy called Fran was to take me and another learner out for the morning before our tests. Fran asked if there was anything in particular that we wanted to go over.
I immediately piped up and said I was concerned about my U-turns. We had a quick warm-up in the car park before heading out into traffic and I practiced my U-turns without any prompting.
After a couple of goes, Fran made me feel at ease by telling me over the radio that if I could do U-turns like I was, I wouldn’t have a problem in my test, which gave me the confidence I needed.
After 10 minutes of getting used to the bikes in the wet, we headed out into town for some last minute preparations.
We did everything all over again then rode to the test centre and I felt ready. We pulled up in the car park, all pretty wet, but ready.
Me and the examiner headed out into the car park and I was asked to read the number plate of a BMW parked up. Done.
He fired a couple of maintenance questions at me about the motorcycles. Like, where would you check the oil level? I got through it without a hitch.
We both got kitted up and I was asked to lead the way. Before I knew it, I was in the petrol station because the examiner had to fill up.
I admit, I thought he asked me to pull in because I had done something dangerous and hadn’t noticed. But no, everything was fine.
Eventually we came to the U-turn, my favourite! I was beyond nervous but I cast my mind back to what Fran said to me in the morning, so I manned up and got on with it.
I kept my revs pretty high and it was wobbly but my clutch control saw me through. I made it round and I was happy it was out of the way. We headed back to the test centre and I was buzzing with adrenalin.
Pass or fail, I was chuffed with how it went. He wasted no time to tell me that I had passed. I was grinning like the Grinch as Fran walked in and I told him the good news. He congratulated me and looked happy with the result. He asked to see my paperwork that the examiner had filled out for my test.
5 minors. Not bad. I was just happy I’d passed.
Looking back, I’m so glad I decided to give riding another go after my accident. The feeling I get from motorcycles is like nothing else I know.
It’s a great freedom and adrenalin rush.
I’m now looking for a bike to call my own. I can’t stop looking for bikes on MCN’s website.
I’m keeping my eyes out for a tidy Aprilia RS125 or possibly a restricted 400/600cc.
I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone at CAM Rider for all the help and encouragement.
About CAM Rider
CAM Rider is an award winning company; it has been in existence since 1977 and was originally part of a large County Council, Road Safety Department.
In 1992 it became a private operation under the direction of Bernard Adams, who is now the Managing Director of CAM Rider Cambridge and also Chief Executive Officer of the franchise company that administers all the different sites CAM rider trains from. In the past 25 years CAM Rider has grown to be market leader in the field of motorcycle training. The company employs over 80 instructors and staff and provides CBT and full test training to over 4,500 people per year.
Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Kettering, Grantham,
London (Hendon), Norwich, Peterborough
Contact: 0800 387198 or www.camrider.com