So it was once again the day of doom or the first day to the rest of my life.
I headed to the BSM Training Centre for 9am ready for another day with big Chris.
After a chill out we headed out towards the Heartlands area where I would be taking my test at 2pm.
I rode around for a couple of hours, with a few minutes breaks here and there. I tried a few U-Turns and had no problems at all. I also tried a few emergency stops, and apart from the fact I might get a minor for kicking down a gear I was fairly confident that I’d be ok with that.
After a sausage, beans and chips lunch (normal bikers’ lunch from what I hear) and a bit of a chill out I had another half an hour’s ride and then headed to South Yardley test centre.
My test examiner was Ray Green. He was really nice and said to me he understood I must be nervous but just to relax and there’s nothing I won’t have done that he’d be asking me to do so just to ride normally. He also asked me what I would be doing for a day job had I been taking my test – well how at that point could I say ‘oh yes I work for MCN’ so I said I‘ll tell you after!
I got fitted up with one of their radios, showed them my driving licence, theory test certificate and signed the disclaimer form and we were soon out in the car park ready for the show me tell me’s.
I was asked to show how you tested the range of movement in the handle bars which I duly did and then I was asked to explain how to change the chain tension, which did also.
Then we were out on the road. There’s not as many areas of different speed changes, although it was busy and so I had to watch out.
The U-Turn was in one of the roads where I’d been with Mark and they are a lot wider than in Lichfield. The examiner asked me to stop and pulled over himself before coming to me and asking to push my Van Van around in the shape of a U. I once again used the advice Mark had given me to use this as the chance to pick my focal spot. Back on the motorbike I had a bit of a wobble, but I succeeded and was just glad to get it out of the way.
The emergency stop wasn’t far away either and was another road I used with Mark and Chris. Just as they had done, the examiner sent me around the block and then as I was heading to him he raised his hand to signal me to stop – no problem.
We rode around the Heartlands area and then into the town part of Solihull, which was mega busy.
We then headed back through to the outskirts of Solihull where it met Birmingham where there’s some 30mph dual carriageways. As I was heading towards one I had just about every possibility you could. A pedestrian crossing before a roundabout so I had to keep this clear in the heavy traffic, then I turned left at the roundabout onto one of these 30mph dual carriageways – or so I thought.
There was a van parked on the double yellow lines just after the roundabout blocking one of the lanes and as I was in this lane I had to stop, look to indicate and move into the over taking lane and also be wary off the parked van and all the traffic. Amidst all this I missed the 40 sign so picked up a minor.
Still Mark and Chris were glad I’d missed a 30-40 change rather than a 40-30 as that would have been an instant fail.
We rode round the area for a few more minutes, most of which is a blur, and headed back to the test centre.
I was then asked to explain what you need to change to carry a pillion, so I told the examiner you alter your suspension, rear tyre pressure, mirrors and lights and that was that.
I wasn’t sure how’d I’d done after being so sure I’d done it last time and then failed. The examiner was all serious but gave me the news I wanted to hear that I’d passed. At this point I was able to tell him I worked for MCN!
I was so happy that I’d passed. From being rather teary I was now in a dream world and it was possible that the Kawaski Ninja 250 could well be mine.
On the paper work side of things I handed over my driving licence for it to be sent away to the DVLA for the motorcycle part to be added, I was given a magazine to read about riding safely and then I was given my test paper to keep with my paperwork at home.
Chris gave me a massive hug of congratulations which was nice and once I’d come back down to earth it was time to ride back to the test centre. By now it was home time for schools and many workers and the Birmingham roads had got fairly busy.
So even though I was now a fully licenced (well, restricted) the Van Van still had the power of well, er, a Van Van. I lost Chris at a set of headlights and then got caught up in the traffic behind him. Fortunately we still had the ear pieces on so he could still talk to me and tell me that he was just in front of a bus that was ahead of me.
Now Chris had, along with the team at Birmingham in my absence over those few weeks, nicknamed me Carnage Carnell for my U-Turn horrors. In the traffic he’s suggested that may be if I saw a good enough gap I might like to pass the bus and go into the gap he’d created. I left it another couple of minutes and then saw my chance and wahoo! I had done my first little bit of filtering! Upon my arrival I got a ‘well good afternoon carnage!’ which made me chuckle.
The rest of the way back was fairly entertaining and all light hearted in this nightmare traffic. I got a ‘look in that shop window at that pink girl’ it was an electrical shop, I really thought Chris had lost his marbles then as I was looking he said ‘yes, her’ it was me of course. Silly arse, but bless him he’s always that mad.
I then finished up doing a pretend hula hoop on the Van Van, not quite sure how it all happened but it was funny and it was certainly passing the time spent in the nightmare traffic.
Eventually we made it back to the BSM base where there was an instructor training day going on. Chris told me to pamp my horn and gave me permission to do my lap of honour.
It was really nice as all the instructors, some of whom I’d met a few times and a couple I’d never met, all came charging over to see if I’d passed. I’m no good at lying as I normally end up laughing and as there was already a big grin on my face the answer was pretty much obvious. This really is a lovely family I’ve got in to with my new biking friends in Birmingham and I’ll never forget their help and guidance so thanks guys.
My journey home was spent planning who I needed to phone to let them know I’d passed and the nicest present of all was my neighbours breaking open a bottle of bubbly for me when I got home.
And so on to the next few months blissfully riding around on the Ninja – fingers’ crossed.