Wednesday, 8 July 2009
On the way to the Module 1 test - that's the one on the controlled environment where you demonstrate your control of the machine by riding slowly between the cones doing figures of eight and slaloms and U-turns etc... I have been practising all week - going around a hairpin bend I meet a lorry overtaking a dustbin lorry and it's about 25 yards in front of me and on my side of the road. I'm going slowly and the the gap is well within the stopping distance but this isn't a theory test - this is for real. I snatch at the front brake and over we go. Same side as the other two accidents. Skinned my left knee and a bit bruised and battered. Back on the bike and I turn up at the training centre. I'm getting a bit of a reputation. They're rather used to straightening out all the bent bits on the bike for me. It's getting more dented and scratched by the week. My ears are finely tuned for dark mutterings that someone who is 60 years old and doing chemotherapy should not be learning to ride a motorbike - but i can't hear anything like that. Everyone is very supportive. The weather is shocking. Tropical storms and torrential downpours. Secretly, I hope the test will be cancelled. But the rain eases off and so we go ahead with it. All the stuff I practised - oh you should have seen me - I was perfect. I never put my foot down, never touched a cone, I can ride that bike as slow as you like and the figures of eight - Oh I should be in the circus! And then it's the emergency stop. I have to get the bike up to 50 kph (any less and you fail) - that's 31.7 mph. The examiner signals for the emergency stop. I snatch at the front brake and over we go. This time it's a bad one. I've never come off the bike at speed before. I've got the mother and father of all bruises. See the photo. And a big lump on my hip. The doctor says I'm likely to have it for the rest of my life and she shows me hers. Maybe all bike riders have got one. The examiner, poor chap, he did everything that he was supposed to do and was careful and reassuring. The fact that I eventually got up off the ground soaked from head to foot has not escaped my notice. In the theory test your stopping distance is multiplied by ten in wet weather. I wish I had come off the bike in theory - but I came off it for real and it hurt. PS I failed.