Twenty years ago I said I would learn to ride a motorbike before drive a car.
17 years ago I passed my car driving licence.
So when him indoors bought me my CBT for my birthday back in July, I had to put things right and put my money where my mouth is.
I'm always learning something or other, I seem to enjoy the process. What I learn, though, I normally have some kind of natural very basic ability to start off, and then I pick it up fairly quickly.
I bought my bike 2 weeks before my test. I started her up in the garden - and pooed myself. I'm pretty tough, but I have an inherent and overwhelming fear of hurting myself*, so wobbling up the grass at less than one mile per hour with no clutch control whatsoever, was a bit of a shock to the old system.
I spent days randomly asking "I will do this, won't I? I will be alright, won't I?" I had a major crisis of confidence and just couldn't see how I cold make progress.
I read the book, I watched the video. It didn't really help. I had no natural affinity for this.
My CBT was HARD. I had never even operated a bike properly before, so I had to be taught to operate as well as ride. We ran out of time on the first go - I wasn't disappointed. I didn't feel I had enough practice to go out on an actual road, nearly 20 years of driving experience or not. I went back the next week - shot through the whole thing, went out on the road and then passed. I was thrilled, as you can see!
I get these things in my head. And it has to happen. I decided that I HAD to ride that night. To my Mother's house. Had to be there, nowhere else.
Cissy (bike - names by Mumatron) wouldn't start. We had her in bits, 2 iPads on the go scouring the net for advice about the problem. Our neighbour (non-biking variety) tried his best to help by repeatedly bump starting it, but would it go? Would it heck as like. A friend of his (biking variety) happened to phone him at the time. He diagnosed and gave us the solution to the stuck ignition switch in a heartbeat - and off we went. On the longest road journey of my life.
I was rigid with effort by the time I got off, It was dark, late and I was exhausted - but I did it. A couple more runs were had, just little ones. And then we went away for 12 days.
It totally threw my confidence. I could remember the theory but I couldn't remember what it felt like and I was really scared. It took me a week to get back on after that. This is really not something I'm used to - there's not much in life that I've been like that about; in fact I can't think of anything else at all. I took 3 days to psych myself up to get back on. I convinced James to come out with me - just down to the local industrial estate, just to get a bit of practicing in. Right up until I got around the first corner (wobbling precariously close to the hedge opposite!) and then something happened.
Like magic, something clicked. My brain thought "I remember this - and it's awesome". I never did go to the industrial estate. I rode around the locality for 2 1/2 hours until he was forced to go home for a loo break - I followed him half an hour or so later. I didn't want to get off!
And it's been like that ever since really. I ride virtually every day. The only time I take the car is if I have to food shop or give a lift. And it sucks! I really dislike car driving now.
I just love riding and I wish I'd learned to do it years ago. The freedom, the weather (dry and wet; I kinda like both!) the head space it takes up, the quiet. It's a wonderful, cathartic experience. It gives a break from the constant information barrage that is continuously assaulting our senses the rest of the time. I'm already starting to think that I need a bigger bike - bigger wheels. A bit more power. I'm planning to do my big bike test next year. That's something I didn't think realistically I'd get to at just a few months ago.
Going through a steep learning curve like this is a great experience. You get to learn so much about yourself and push yourself way out of your comfort zone to see what you can do. And the pride when you start to get okay at doing it is fantastic. It's definitely better to find something hard at the start.
There's the old bike related cliché about it being about "the journey not the destination". It so totally is right. In all aspects of life.
Oh and another good thing. Since carrying my daughter 20 years ago, I've had intermittent but regular and very painful sciatica. (I've never heard of non painful sciatica having said that.) Since I've been riding regularly - nadda. Not a twinge.
I love my bike.
* Being rubbish at sports and not remotely interested in them, I was surprised to find that I was good at the high jump in school but paralysed with fear at the prospect of falling on the bar!