The Sunday Social with Paralympian Jody Cundy

Published: 07 May 2017

What better way to spend a Sunday than for MCN to sit down with a fellow biker for a chinwag about life and bikes, of course.

This week we caught up with Paralympian, seven-time gold medallist for Team GB in cycling and swimming, Jody Cundy after his intensive week course with BMW Rider Training.

First thing's first...

What's on the menu for brekkie at the bike cafe today?

"Pancakes or a bacon buttie."

What are you looking for on a Sunday ride? (Nice scenery, new cafe, knee-down adrenaline?)

"Flowing roads, not too much traffic, with a great café or pub lunch somewhere on route."

And what's in your pannier/backpack when you're out on a ride today?

"Spare pair of gloves, and rain gear as living in Manchester it’s never far from raining!"

Found any new nice roads lately?

"Yeah a few, the A54 from Macclesfield through Allgreave and then up to Cat and Fiddle towards Buxton, and just discovered Mam Tor which has a great view from the top and you can then head over for a trip through Winnatts Pass which isn’t far from there."

Now last month we spent a whole week with you on BMW Rider Training's 7-day intense riding course. And you've just obtaining your full motorbike licence, congrats!

Here's Jody with BMW Chief Riding Instructor Ian Biederman at the Royston-based training centre.

So before the training you’d never ridden a motorcycle before, what were your initial thoughts when getting on a 125 for the first time?

"Initially apprehensive about the whole thing, then it was getting used to the position. It felt very awkward, heavy and upright compared to my push bike, but once I’d got over that it felt pretty natural."

What made you want to get your motorcycle licence?

"I’ve always been a fan of MotoGP since I was a little kid, there’s pictures of me at motorcycle races from the age of 3, so at some point I wanted to have a go on a bike, surprisingly it took until I was 38 until I managed to actually do it."

Oh yes, here you are with Barry Sheene and Cal Crutchlow...

Any who, back to the training. How was it transferring to the F700GS?

"Once again apprehensive, especially as I hadn’t felt like I’d mastered the 125, but after being reassured by all the instructors that they’re easier to ride and you’ll be fine I found it quite exciting, especially as they were brand new and had done 20miles!"

Describe how the 7-days worth of training was for you?

"Frustrating, scary, and amazingly rewarding. I think that pretty much somes it up, the feeling of not being able to do something correctly, kinda drives me insane, especially when you can see other people easily able to do it. But with practice and following the instructions of Ian, I slowly but surely got it, and that’s incredibly rewarding."

What advice would you give a new rider before they attempt a 7-day BMW Rider Training course?

"Simply listen to the instructors! They have seen every type of mistake you can make, and know how to correct it and point you in the right direction. When it clicks it goes exactly how they said it should, which gives you more confidence as the layers of difficulty are added."

What advice would you give a new rider in general, before attempting to get on a motorcycle?

"Not to be scared of the bike, of what could go wrong, and believe in yourself that you can do it, because it’s a great feeling when you master it."

Chief Instructor Ian warned us, the course will see you through every single emotion. How did you deal with the psychological effect of the motorbike training?

"It’s made me want to continue learning new skills, the whole frustration and reward process you go through is such a good feeling. I realised it’s something I’ve missed in my life for a long while."

So after training Saturday - Tuesday before the first test. How was it taking your Mod 1 and Mod 2?

"Mod 1 was the most frustrating, especially as on my first crack at it, I made a really silly mistake on my U-Turn by putting my foot down, which is an automatic failure. But coming back to it a few weeks later,  I was really relaxed and just concentrated on riding the bike and doing the skills asked of me -  which I was able to do time after time in practice. Once I did that, I managed to pass with flying colours the 2nd time."

"The Mod 2 (which is the part of the test where you ride on the road) was the one I was more confident about, as the miles we’d covered with Ian in the first part of the course reassured me that I was able to do everything correctly and safely, which is ultimately what the test is about.

"You have to ride while being observed and the key is not to panic or have any brain fart moment that could lead to something that was failable.  Basically if you ride in a 'safe and legal' manner you'll pass.

"Having done my Mod 1 only 45mins prior to the Mod 2 I was feeling really relaxed and confident, but I was incredibly relieved to hear the words 'I’m pleased to inform you you’ve passed.' Certainly could feel the weight lift off my shoulders and a sense of achievement."

How did you conquer the fears? Any special rituals or good luck charms under taken in the week of your training?

"No special rituals or lucky charms, but conquering my fears came from having faith in the things the instructors were telling me, and once I gained confidence in each skill my fears diminished."

Representing Great Britain is slightly different to passing your bike licence, but were there any similarities?

"Actually there were a few similarities. Putting your faith in a coach, listening to them, and following their words to improve. Also going into the tests it was a case of dealing with it like a race, and remembering you can only control the controllables, worrying about things that might or might not happen isn’t going to help."

A bicycle and motorcycle have many similarities, 2 wheels, both need momentum to stay balanced...leaning and turning are the same principles – But how have you dealt with life on a motorcycle where things go much faster?

"It took a little while to get used to the speed, especially on the dual carriageway as I was surprised by the amount of wind buffeting on your helmet, especially when checking your mirrors. The one thing that was reassuring, was the amount of grip you had, and the power of the brakes, compared to my road bike."

How has it been getting used to the gears?

"To be fair other than the actual technique of changing gears it felt pretty natural, especially coming from driving a car and matching engine speed to actual speed."

Did you have to make any changes with the exception of your prosthetic leg?

"I was really lucky that the only change we needed to make to the bike was moving the position of the rear brake pedal so it matched where my prosthetic naturally sat on the bike. By all accounts the issues I had with the rear brake were not a prosthetic problem, but very similar to what everyone has because you’re wear stiff boots."

What would you give to a new rider getting into riding a motorbike?

"I would get in touch with an instructor to have them check whether they think you’d be able to actually ride. I actually met up with Ian at the MCN bike show, and we jumped on an F700GS they had on the BMW stand as that would be what I’d be learning on, and we worked out what I could and couldn’t do. After that, Ian decided there was nothing to worry about and we could learn like everyone else."

Motorbike gear vs bicycle gear? Did you have any major obstacles to overcome when making this transition to wearing more protection?

"It was just getting used to a much heavier helmet with less visability to what I normally wear, and the levels of padding and thickness of clothing - I’m used to 1 or 2 layers of skintight lycra, with no protection."

Now that you've done the hard part, let's talk gear and bikes...what's next...

Name three things you’ve Google’d since taking part in your motorcycle training?

"Bike Tours, MCN Bike Reviews, BMW Motorrad UK..."

Nice on the MCN reviews *wink*

Are you eyeing up any gear?

"Yes! A HJC R-PHA-11 Boba Fett Helmet – I'm a big Star Wars fan and I think this looks great, and having tried on a few different helmets the HJC’s and Sharks fitted me the best, but I love the design of this and the KyloRen helmet.

"Also a Dainese Super Speed Tex Jacket – Just love the look and annoyingly it fits really well, so it’s on the wish list!

"There are so many pieces of motorbike gear I want!"

Definitely browse MCN's Shop for more...

 Browse MCN Shop

And surely you're looking at bikes now! Any catching your eye?

"I really like the look of the BMW F800R. After riding on the F700GS for my training and having been fortunate enough that BMW got me on the course, I have a bit of a brand loyalty already. I’m told it's a great first bike. I think as my confidence and skill levels grow then I’d love to give an S1000RR a whirl. Certainly going to be dropping by my local dealer and trying out a few different bikes and styles of bike."

Thanks for catching up with us Jody! Tune in next week for our next Sunday Social catch-up...