Nerves and the bike test

Published: 16 October 2010

I have ridden bikes on and off since 1964. I took the old style test in 1967 and failed on 2 minor'ish points. I did not take it again regrettably. As I did not want to carry a pillion passenger and my 250 was quick enough at the time.

Each decade since, I have gone back to bikes but unfortunately 125. I have always had an ambition to gain my full licence. So in May this year I did the CBT, and then bought a CG125, which I have ridden quite a lot since.

I sat my theory and got 50 out 50 on the multiple choice and 58 out of 75 for the hazard perception. I thought brilliant I am on my way. I booked a direct access of 3 day duration, taking part 1 on the 2nd day and part 2 on the 3rd. We used a Honda CBF600 (loved it).

I had a brilliant instructor, who pushed me to achieve a result. On the 1st day I had an hour on a DSA circuit, completed all exercises with little problem. OK my 1st couple of runs on the avoidance run were a bit low at around 46-47.

I finally achieved 44 runs in a row at 51KPH, I thought I am now OK for the part 1. By the way all the road work went well, a few bits needed tidying up (occasionally forgetting to cancel the indicator was the main one).

Day 2: we met at the bike riding school at 7-00am, had a quick run on their small pad, all OK. We rode about 10 miles to the DSA depot that went OK. I had 30 mins. To spare, time to chill out, I felt calm and collected.

I was called into the office, the examiner seemed friendly, asked if he could use my 1st name. He checked my documents, then we went out for the test. From the parking space I treated this as part of the test by making the normal observations, I went through the gate and it clanged behind me ( a little nerve racking, but I was still OK.

The examiner then proceeded, in a monotone, to explain the requirements of the test. It was at this point I started to feel a little nervous at this stage. I proceeded to the parking bays and after instruction I started the manual handling manoeuvre.

My mouth suddenly dried up and my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth, my hands and arms started to shake, I tried deep breaths but my dry mouth did not seem to want any air to pass through it.

I did park the bike and I think my shaking went un-noticed. I started the slalom with my clutch hand shacking a lot more than I would have wanted. I got past the last cone ready to enter the figure of 8, all the time telling myself to keep the speed under control and not put my foot down, anyway I put my foot down, why I do not know. THAT’S A FAIL.

I looked at the examiner and be signalled to carry on ( I did not kid myself that he would forget this C*^” up). Any way I carried on as if all was OK, even though I had already failed.

The figure of 8 went fine. I suddenly realised that my nerves were now pretty OK again, due to now not being under pressure, having already failed.

Now for the high speed stuff! When I looked at the DSA video clips, it did not appear to me as fast. The term “high speed manoeuvres” , I think gives an impression of Valentine Ross giving it some around the bend, with his knee touching the road. In actual fact the speeds required are not too bad, but it is all relative.

I entered the bend (for the swerve test) at 18mph and increased to 22 approx on exit. The problem is that you can’t really check your speed because you need to keep your eye on the exit of the bend.

I increased the throttle to what I felt was 100mph, through the speed detector swerved and stopped in the box, looked behind both ways and assumed the safe position. At this point, I thought the main bit has been done, what a relief.

I found out at the end of the test that my speed was 44KPH. I was asked if I wanted to try again, I said yes and off I went. This time I increased my speed and was recorded at 49KPH.

The difference between my CG125 and the CBF600, as you would know, is worlds apart. After only 1 whole day on the 600, I was OK on the road stuff but grabbing handfuls of throttle, while approaching a hazard, I was not inclined to do!

Just a small amount of throttle in 2nd was pretty amazing, for me anyway. In the wrong hands approaching the swerve, on a powerful machine could have lethal consequences. Hence I did not achieve the require speed.

The rest of the test went fine, ‘U’ turn and slow ride, with an emergency stop speed of 50KPH. My instructor was surprised that I failed and I was not sure how I felt.

The above test was on a Monday and I re-booked for the Friday. Friday came and I didn’t do any better, the same mistakes happened. Although this time I was not quite as nervous.

I should say that throughout my life, I have had a problem with being nervous for any tests and exams of any description. I am now trying to decide whether to book a 3rd test, however it has cost me best part of £700 this week alone.

I am a great believer in turning negatives into positives. The CBT and direct access training has brought my car driving back on line. We all pick up bad habits after passing driving tests and I now I think I am a much better motorist.

Maybe we should put all car drivers on a bike for a day or so.

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