After the highs of yesterday and the unexpected success on the Suzuki SV650 the plan for the day was to go out on the road to see how I get on with the ‘big’ bike before making a final decision whether to go forward for the full direct access or go back to the Suzuki Van Van.
Mark suggested I go out on the pad to warm up the bike and have a ride around before we got on to the road.
There was me and a couple of other trainees who were on the regular BSM direct access course there today so I took off on the Suzuki SV650 and they jumped on Honda CB500s and we took to the pad for a ride around.
Now not on a high, I struggled to even lift the SV650 off its side stand to get ready to start it and get going. I couldn’t believe how heavy it was, and I’ve got no idea how I just went for it yesterday afternoon.
I managed to get it going and took off quite happily around the pad, remembering the points to focus on to turn the corners. I managed to get up to around 23mph and was fairly happy, but I wasn’t 100 per cent relaxed with the fact I couldn’t sit totally comfortably with such a huge tank between my knees. I suggested to Mark yesterday that there were all sorts of jokes about throbbing machines between my thighs, er herm – I think he’s realised I’m a bit of a character!
I decided to go and park the Suzuki SV650 up and then start completely from scratch trying to get it off its stand and start off again. It was at this point that I completely threw it on the floor, knocking off the ball on the end of the clutch lever and the gear change foot pedal – Doh again!
It was at this point that I knew enough was enough. For me being only 5’ 2” and not the biggest of people it was just too big a jump from the 125 up to a whopping 650 and one I certainly wasn’t going to overcome in three days.
And so I returned to the Suzuki Van Van and this was to be my baby that would hopefully see me through my test.
Now that I had made the decision Mark decided we should head off to Lichfield, where I’m going to do my test on Friday.
So we set off down the A38 to Lichfield which the bit I’d done yesterday heading back in to Birmingham hadn’t been that bad so I wasn’t too bothered. But as soon as we got out the city it was obvious that this was one windy day and I was struggling to keep my Van Van going in a straight line. And then the rain started – brilliant!
The part of the A38 I went on is a national speed limit dual carriageway with a few roundabouts and slip roads between Birmingham and Lichfield. The roundabouts weren’t a problem, it was just the nightmare wind that was tiring me out and this was only about 10.30 in the morning.
Mark gave me a ‘welcome to Lichfield’ over the radio which was nice after the harsh journey over.
It was instantly noticeable just how much quieter and quainter than Birmingham it was, it reminded me of Worcester.
We spent the next two hours or so riding around, checking out the various roads and Mark introduced me to the 20mph zones in the residential estates. There were a couple of not so nice turns on to a 40mph road and it seemed to take for ever to find a gap in the traffic to make my turn.
I was also cocking up junctions, turns and forget the U-Turn, it wasn’t happening.
Eventually Mark directed me straight back in to the town and in to a car park where, both hard sat, we peeled ourselves off our motorcycles.
We walked in to the town to grab some food and have a chat about the day so far.
I’d got really cross with myself for being so rubbish but Mark assured me I was being too hard on myself. He admitted I was having an off day, but also admitted that most people on the direct access or long intense courses like this tended to have an off day on day three or four. So this was my off day on day three and I’m praying things will go better tomorrow.
After lunch we went back out into the residential areas for some more riding around and more U-Turn attempts, most of which finished up with the Van Van lying on its side.
The wind was also getting a lot worse and at traffic lights with me in the safety position and my left foot well and truly planted on the floor, I was getting almost blown over. It was at one of these traffic lights where I was acting as a human sail Mark enlightened me to the fact that if it’s this windy on Friday my test will be cancelled which I’m really disappointed about. I know it’s only for safety but after all this hard work it would be a shame to go back to Peterborough with nothing.
Before heading back to Birmingham we went to see the outside of the test centre. As it’s not big enough to go and park up and have a good look around, we rode past and on to a car park by a lovely park and walked back.
Mark showed me where I need to park up on Friday and just explained a bit more about the test.
Walking back to the bikes the heavens opened and we were getting wetter. Much more suitable weather for jumping in my car and driving off, but as that was back in Birmingham it was the bike or a very long walk.
Before setting off Mark went though the ‘show me and tell me’ element asking all the possible things the examiner might about how do you check it your lights are working, or show me that your brakes work, or how do you check your oil and brake fluid level. He also explained fully about testing the slack on your chain and what to do to adjust that and tyre alignment, which I was glad of as I hadn’t taken it in on my initial CBT.
We also looked at his Suzuki V-Strom so I have an idea when I do get to ride ‘big bikes’ what to do and where to look.
It was then time for a final sweep around Lichfield before heading back down the A38 and back to Birmingham.
Once again the wind was horrendous and it was all I could do to keep myself going in a straight line. I was getting badly knocked around and dreaded what was going happen when the next lorry came past. I couldn’t believe that I made it back in one piece so I was just glad to get back to the training centre and park it up.
After a totally knackering day I headed back to my hotel and just hope tomorrow will see me riding properly.
Stay safe and I'll be back tomorrow
To find out more about Suzuki's course with BSM call 0870 010 0057.