I passed My CBT on a geared bike on Wednesday
It was my second attempt – my first driving experience and my first time operating an engine. Previously the concept of the clutch had been a complete mystery.
I found it to be a steep learning curve, I felt challenged in a way I am not usually day-to-day at University for example. Simple skills and knowledge but it had my brain churning to take it all in.
Even the basic discussion on road knowledge challenged some of the pre conceptions I have accrued as a conscientious (I hope) cyclist.
Off road I found the mechanics of operating the bike very un natural and was having to run through mental checklists with every procedure, I was stalling a lot and dumping the clutch as I changed down gears. I was nervous when the instructor said he was happy to take me on the road.
After a shaky start things came together much better on the road; there was a lot more information to process, but also more time to get a feel for the bike. I was able to relax and get a sense of what the bike needed me to do. I was still making simple mistakes; leaving the indicator running and stalling sporadically when I came to a stop but riding as a whole felt much more natural and fun.
It was me and one other guy on a moped with the instructor, the other guy took the lead for the first half, which gave me some time to get a feel for things when it was time for me to take the lead. I was a little nervous but things continued on well and I was able to relax into it again, I had no idea where we’d got to by this point but it seemed we were in that weird place somewhere between suburbia and the beginning of the countryside, it was very hilly and controlling my speed as we came down hills was exhilarating and one of many aspects that hadn’t been discussed at all in the training up until this point. It was elements like this that gave me the chance to experiment and get my own feel for how the bike functioned.
At some point whilst coming to the top of a hill and slowing to stop for a red light I stalled with a line of traffic building up behind me. When I tried to restart the engine it wouldn’t come back to life. I returned to my mental checklist and gently tried gunning the throttle as I had been shown when the cold engine had been unwilling to start earlier that morning but this time I could tell it was different as the engine was giving off zero life signs. Meanwhile the lights had turned green and my instructor via one-way radio was slowly and firmly talking me through the steps of turning the engine back on and moving off. I tried to communicate non-verbally that there was a problem beyond my experience- by this point the motorists behind were sharing their impatience. I made the decision to dismount and push my lifeless bike out of the way of the waiting traffic. At this point my instructor was still telling me to get back on the bike and calmly restart the bike but was losing conviction.
It was a difficult position; I did not have the communication tools necessary to explain my situation, there was rising pressure and I felt the status of the CBT as training but also as a basic test meant that the instructor was obliged to encourage me to continue on even though I could not.
The instructor and the other mopedist pulled over once past the junction, I joined them pushing the bike and explained my understanding of the situation. The instructor looked the bike over, after a while he told us to wait and pushed the bike out of view for a few minutes. He retuned with the bike running (possibly after a hill start?). I wasn’t sure at this point whether I’d fucked the bike up, or the bike had failed of its own accord or whether without radio contact there would have to be a rerun. With the engine still running he told us we would continue back with him riding my bike and me riding his – this meant we would be following him and would be out of radio contact as it was powered by a connection which was only on his bike. We set off; I found his bike to be a little more responsive, the clutch and throttle felt sharper and clearer. Cut off from the instructor and with more traffic the journey back felt more autonomous and it seemed to me that my riding improved to suit. Eventually we got back to the centre parked the bikes and got out of our kit.
My instructor; not the most active conversationalist sat down at his desk and went through the moped guys paper work and stamped it with a pass- afterwards he asked for my licence and gave me a pass stamp to.
Overall I am a much better motorcyclist now than I was before I did the CBT, meaning; I can actually ride a motorcycle as apposed to my previous vague fantasising about riding a motorcycle. Although I am far from assimilating the skills necessary to ride in a natural way, I can see that with practice I will get them. I think the return journey sans radio contact may have worked to my favour in showcasing my understanding of the basic training I had been given
A fantastic de-mystifying experience anyone who’s considering it should get on and do it.