A two wheel taster with vertigo

With it being national ‘Ride to Work Week’, I took on the challenge of seeing what life is like on two wheels.

The only time I’ve attempted to ride a motorcycle was at the NEC Motorcycle Live show last November. I did a short taster course with ‘Get On‘ to see how I would fare on a bike – it wasn’t fantastic.

Full of cold, I put on all the gear and my helmet and attempted to ride round the short circuit. I didn’t have much luck at all, I was either over revving or not revving at all – let’s not even mention trying to change gear!

After a frustrating 10 minutes, I threw in the metaphorical towel and carried on with the show.

 

Ride to Work Week logo
Ride to Work Week, 15th to 21st June.

So 8 months later, full of apprehension and nerves I wasn’t too sure how the taster session would go, but on the plus side I didn’t have a cold!

Off we went to the Academy Motorcycle Training, in Romford, for our introduction to motorbiking…

Ray, who was running the session, got us all kitted up with proper textile jackets, hi-vis bibs, gloves and a helmet. The strangest part was wearing the helmet, it took me a while to get to use to the weight and how it limits your peripheral vision.

Once we were kitted up, we went outside to see the bikes. I was still scared of the thought of jumping straight on a geared bike, but when Ray said we had the option of doing our taster on an automatic, my face lit up – I was feeling a lot more confident!

A row of training bikes
Our bikes ready for our training session

Ray talked us through the basics of each bike; how to switch it on, move it on and off the stand, how to accelerate and brake.

Only standing at 5ft 6” and having the strength of a 10 year-old child, it was an on-going battle to get the bike on and off its stand but by the end of the session I had mastered it AND I didn’t drop the bike!

Once I was feeling confident with the basics of the moped, I was off round the circuit!

Being a sufferer of vertigo, my balance isn’t fantastic. Sometimes just spinning round on my desk chair can leave me in slight haze, so my main concern was how my balance would hold up being on two-wheels.

Well after a few spins round the course, I was feeling fine and was starting to feel more confident. I started to relax more, my arms weren’t so stiff and I could feel myself gradually picking up speed.

The automatic bike I was riding was a Pulse Scout 49, essentially a moped but I was feeling confident. I had to remember to turn my right hand for the throttle and using my left hand for the rear brake (just in case I needed it).

I was flying round the course…. Well what felt like flying to me was less than 10mph but the thrill was more than enough!

Ray teaching us the basics of biking
Ray teaching us the basic of the bike

The sun was shining and soon I was doing basic stop/starting manoeuvres to really get to grips with the braking and throttle control.

All in all, the taster session was brilliant. It’s taken away the frustration and fear I had after my first biking experience, and next time I’ll be jumping on a geared bike with no apprehension at all.

A massive thanks to Ray and Academy Motorcycle Training, next time you’ll see us we will be doing our CBTs – fingers crossed!