Once Upon A Time
Once upon a time, my husband, Edward bought me a Direct Access Course at Two Wheels in Edinburgh. To say I didn’t know the first thing about riding a motorbike doesn’t even cover it. As for spending 3 days learning how to ride one with the test on the fourth day. Hahahahaha. Get out of here.
All the experience I’d had was riding pillion on the back of Ed’s numerous bikes from 1989 to 1994. I was pretty good at that, it seems… So good, that I would quite happily fall asleep on the back. Ed would always know; there would be a slight delay coming out of corners….. a slight delay for me to get back to ‘upright’. Not once did I show an interest in learning to ride a bike. Ed thought it would be a good thing for me to ‘put a motorcycle licence in my back pocket, until it was needed’.
How hard could it be for a complete novice?
I don’t remember much about the training, however what I do know now, is how easy it was then to get your licence. Even someone who had only ever driven a car. I had ridden a bike (not always successfully – hence a crown on my front tooth) and never, ever, a bike with an engine.
I couldn’t even tell you what type of bike I was given. By the powers of deduction and reasoning though, let’s presume it was a wee Honda. Probably about 125cc. That was about as technical as I got then and quite frankly that hasn’t changed much.
Our instructor was called Ian and to say he took an instant dislike to me (or was it my helmet?) was an understatement. With this instant reaction to a helmet adorned with a Harley Davidson sticker, somehow he managed to presume that I was 1) an idiot; 2) A woman; and 3) wouldn’t have a clue about anything. At that time, it was the only helmet I had (it’s probably somewhere in the garage too!). I also didn’t have a clue why anyone would ‘classify’ someone like this. Now, many years later, I totally understand.
The one thing clear to Mr Personality was: I obviously didn’t have a clue about motorbikes. He was spot on there. Ian took every opportunity he could to make a complete arse out of me for being pretty useless on the first day. I have to say, I can take a teasing, however, I do remember being pretty miserable after the first day. Does anyone actually like ‘failure’? I certainly don’t.I wasn’t exactly motivated and overflowing with enthusiasm. Now, I’m wondering if he was being ‘provocative’ on purpose, to spur me towards a goal, which was quite frankly, Ed’s goal.
Day 2, I’d decided to suck it up and get on with it. I dragged my miserable, sorry ass back at 9am on the dot. I remember the surprise on Ian’s face. I bet there was money on the table, ‘Bet ya a quid she doesn’t come back…’
The one thing I was born with was a natural sense of balance. Thank goodness for that. Another honed skill thanks to my Dad and his love of maps, was, a pretty darn good sense of direction. The other talent I do have is the ability to laugh at myself. Probably just as well.
The biggest ‘OMG’ moment was noticing road signs again. I’d been driving for 9 years by this time and considered myself to be a competent driver. All of a sudden everything seemed new and enlightening. All of a sudden there were all these red circles and red triangles – I’m sure they weren’t there before? Not only was I trying to be safe on this (as I felt at the time) powerful lump of metal with a flammable tank, I had to navigate my way round parts of Edinburgh that I hadn’t been to before.
Then Ian asked, “Who knows their way to Longstone?” None of the locals put their hands up. Eventually, I put my hand up. Of course I knew where Longstone was. The next thing, I was in the front of the group leading fellow novices from one side of Edinburgh to the other. And back again.This included an emergency stop, my fault, I’m now much better at zebra crossings!
On the way back to Peffermill, there was a really awkward junction. One, that if you’re not careful, could result in a serious accident. I was waiting to turn right with my indicator on. There was a car approaching with his left indicator on. I waited. When he started turning into the junction, I moved off. Now, anyone reading this, that knows anything about driving or riding, knows that just because someone has their indicator on, doesn’t mean they are actually going to turn in. Well, there was not so much as a ‘well done’ for escorting the group around Edinburgh. No. All Ian could focus in on was the junction. He had the balls to stand there and lecture me about hesitation and, “He had his indicator on, you should have gone”. Aye, that’ll be shining bright. When I told him he was wrong, he was not a happy bunny.
At that point the only accident I’d ever had was in a Trooper with bull bars. My indicator hadn’t cancelled and my music was probably cranked up and couldn’t hear the ‘tick, tick, tick’. I rammed a woman who presumed I was turning left. She had just got her car out the body shop. I had right of way, whether my indicator was on or not. I told Ian that story. He didn’t like that either!(It’s still my only accident…. touches wood).
Just to rub salt into Ian’s wounds, I passed my test on day 4. Ed came to collect me and the first thing he did was hand the keys of the Harley to me. Eh? No thanks. The first big bike I rode was a Virago; remember them? It was a friend Trevor’s bike. I didn’t get the bug in the few miles that I rode it. I was probably petrified too.
Then, I did as I was told. I put my licence in my back pocket and it stayed there for the best part of 11 years.
I have to say, at that point in time, I was just relieved that I had got through it all. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. Having spent a lot of money, I wanted Ed to be proud of me. I passed and then continued for a decade, continuing to be a pillion.
Then what happened?
That’s for the next blog.
I have to say, it was my pal that asked me to write this blog. Not a bad thing, maybe slightly boring for some readers, however, hang on in there. It’s been an adventure and it didn’t start here. I only realise now that it was a great thing that Ed asked me to do, at the right time.