SarahC's Suzuki and BSM DAS diary day four: By George I think she's got it!
My first major problem of the day was actually getting out of bed. The left side of my back has decided to go in to spasm probably after the windy ride yesterday – oh great.
On arrival at BSM’s training centre I really struggled to walk into the building, let alone get geared up and head out on a motorcycle. Today I decided to put on my Weise Sophie jacket (£99.99) as it’s got a proper back protector in it and as I was now properly going on to dual carriageways and going faster, I thought it was the safer option.
Apparently the new pink and black look I had going on was quite bright and Mark said I could definitely be seen in my girly attire.
Mark decided to take it fairly easy with me as I was struggling with my back so he kept me in Birmingham rather than going to Lichfield as he’d previously planned.
First we went out to some national speed limit country roads so he could show me road positioning and how to approach and take corners.
We went out on the A45 dual carriageway to the outskirts of Solihull near Hampton in Arden.
Mark knew a route they use when they take bikers on rideouts from the Motorcycle Show from the NEC so he knew some good roads which took in a roundabout, a couple of fairly easy left turns and a not so easy left turn on to a 40mph road from a 30.
He taught me about getting in to the left of the lane to go right and not to turn in too early, while for left bends I needed to be more in the centre of my lane. All this was designed to keep me safe and open up my view down the road. He was getting me to pick spots in the distance to help me see how the road bent round all of which started to make real sense on the second lap.
As my confidence increased, so did my speed so then it was time to do it all in the opposite direction.
After this and another petrol stop we headed back in to town for me to try some more U-Turns. What the hell is wrong with my brain and why is it that I am spending more time putting the Suzuki Van Van on its side than turning in the road.
I seemed to have a crowd of locals gathering to watch me which was really unnerving, and then there was all the learner drivers and this put me off more and more so once again I finished up with the motorcycle on its side.
I did manage a couple, but not enough to convince me that I was anyway near having mastered these pigging things.
Rather than me getting more and more stressed Mark suggested we head back to base, but not before grabbing a spanner out of one of his panniers to straighten the brake lever I’d just bent.
Back at the ranch Mark got me to use the road at the back of the BSM training centre to practice some hill starts on the Suzuki Van Van, which I’m not so bad at. We followed an off road track around, that was a favourite of learner drivers and children on school holidays.
Up there it was more U-Turns but the area I was to use had clear sides to the road and then a kind of dirt area. I managed a couple and cocked up quite a few more.
We gave up on this section and headed to another bit. It was here that I made a silly suggestion and asked if I could walk the U-Turn, without the motorcycle to worry about so I could just think about what I was meant to be doing with my body.
So we stood side by side with arms in front of us as if we were on the bikes. We pretended to up the revs, slightly slipped the clutch, sat with our right feet on the back brake, got going, gripped the tank, shoulder check and then push the left handle bar with our left hand (well – pretended to).
We did this a few times and then I tried it for real and what do you know, I did a U-Turn. Suddenly something clicked in my blonde brain and it was starting to come together.
After doing about 10 Mark moved me further around the track to try some more.
I did a few and cocked up a few, but I seemed to know what I’d done wrong on these occasions.
We did the off track circle again behind the training centre and one again I managed quite a lot but this time only cocked up a few and there was no more dropping the bike on the floor.
At this Mark asked if I wanted to try some on the road and I enthusiastically nodded. So we headed to a few roads where 125 tests go in Birmingham and I nailed about 90 per cent. Hooray!
Whilst we were out I also did an emergency stop, which I had been okay with throughout the week. Boy did that hurt with my back and the sudden stop, so with me walking the motorcycle in to the curb towards Mark after I finished the manoeuvre I just said ‘Ow’ in a fairly pathetic voice. That was the end of emergency stops for the day, which both my brain and back were thankful for.
We rode around a bit more and another couple of U-Turns and then we headed to some shops where I nearly finished up under the wheels of a reversing car. Not the best way I would have chosen to have gone – thankfully Mark hitting his horn alerted them and I am saved for another day.
This was enough to convince us both we could do with an early finish as it was gone 4pm and so we headed back to the BSM training centre again.
My back will be looking forward to bed tonight before the final full day of riding and my final day with Mark before I’m put in the care of big Chris for the test on Friday.
I'll be back tomorrow
To find out more about Suzuki's course with BSM call 0870 010 0057.