Monday 5 December 2011

CBT on the CB 500 Honda

The CBT seemed to initially to be have been designed to allow kids or those wanting to ride a small CC bike easy access to riding and learning on the go. Whilst 25 years ago this may have been a good idea and back in the day when a bike test was a quick ride around the block whilst your examiner stood and watched you ride buy, now its seems out-dated and ridiculous.

Kevin my great trainer from KDM training met me on the small square that pretends to be Nairn’s CBT training area and we walk towards two bikes, a rather beaten up 125 and Honda CB 500. Having asked me some questions; what do the brakes do? where is the oil filler? tire (tyre) tread questions, Kevin decides that starting me on the 125 is nonsense, and plonks me on the 500 cc bike.

Immediately the thing that surprises me is the weight of the bike, it’s unbelievably heavy and I almost drop it as I take it of the stand. My only experience of sitting on a Honda 500cc machine before was travelling though Edinburgh on the back of Judy Dean’s (I fancied her rotten) bike on the way from the grounds of Napier’s Photographic department, where we both studied, to my flat, where she refused to come “up for coffee”. So brief and frustrating it was and also a situation where the weight of the bike did not feature, as I was much too interested in experimenting with other unrequited things. Waist or Grab bars? Too late to decide now, I think.

Wobbling around doing figures of 8’s and mini cone slaloms soon saw me riding in the abandoned business park next to the CBT area. Quickly the mirror-signal-lifesave check routine was learnt and couple of emergency stops later, we headed off into the steamy metropolis that is Nairn. Having never ridden anything bigger than a 125cc Trails Gas Gas before, the sensation of speed even at 40mph was great, if not a little frightening and to start with but the oddest thing was changing gear whilst sitting down. The No-Seat trials bikes involve a mini-balancing act to be executed in order o change gear and the luxury of changing gear whilst sitting down was a pure pleasure. Having stalled the bike in traffic once, the afternoon settled down into a series of roundabout walk throughs and practise manoeuvres in the light town traffic. It was easy, the sun was out and the bike forgiving, but after a couple of hours I decided to call it a day, the old synapsis were just were beginning to fry. Back under a veil of screaming shite hawks (seagulls) Kevin sat me down in the back of his van and wrote out the CBT pass. Odd, I did not even know I was being assessed, "but hay", stage two completed.

The point is now I can legally ride a bike on the street, and I in no way did I feel ready or am capable of taking charge of myself in traffic on a bike of any size, this I imagine is the start of a very dangerous period…

New Challenges

I am surrounded by a pile of books and DVLA DVD,s and in the presence of these official publications, I feel guilty. A bit like a small boy in a classroom full of kids, where the pickpocket is asked to come forward and even though your totally innocent, you feel the pang of some deep seated culpability. It’s the humiliation of the L Plate and I have not felt this for over 30 years, it’s a rare meeting between state and confirmed individualist. I find myself here more by accident than design. A few years ago, I moved to the French Alps to a village where every third person seems to own a Trials bike. The hills in the off-season echo to the sounds of two stoke growling and gunfire, where the hills and trails and sheared between the wild boar hunters and the riders of the single cylinder blue smoke thumpers.

Opting to join the Gas Gas culture rather than the gun culture, the dividing line between an early morning Pastis or a petit cafĂ©, is an exiting revelation for a once confirmed mountain biker rider and downhiller. But six months into this journey, the 125cc I have been riding is beginning to die under my weight, its high pitching whining, a sound often ignored in other aspects of my life, has to be respected. The owner of local bar, having chucked himself down a ravine attached to his 300cc machine has decided discretion "is the better part". His pride and joy, so easily given up, now sits in my shed. It waits for me to be able to (legally) ride across the short stretch of hardtop that annoyingly stand between my house and the mountain trails. Little did I know that this simple 200m stretch of frost cracked tar, was going to lead me into a world of GS’s and GPS, and a brave new world of Adventure bike riding.