Thursday 30 November 2017

Grainne gets in on the act

Whilst I was languishing in self-pity due to my inability to ride a bike the other month, another member of the Nomad Racing family was going the opposite way.

Grainne decided to start riding herself last year and we started by looking for a suitable bike for the shorter rider, she only being 5’ 3”. Which we discovered wasn’t exactly easy but eventually decided on a Suzuki RV 125 VanVan, which due to its “beach buggy” style look was ideally suited with a seat height of only 770mm. A 0% finance deal was the icing on the cake.

After signing up for her CBT (Compulsory Basic Training, not Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) with a local training school, Rebel Dog Motorcycle Training, all was going quite well with only a couple of “lying down moments” with the schools Yamaha YB125s. However when it came down to further training (all included as part of a package) towards her 2 part bike test, they turned out to be less than cooperative!

As Grainne was working a Monday to Friday job at the time she asked if both her further training and Module 1 (off road) and Module 2 (on road) tests be arranged at the weekend?

Rebel Dog duly arranged for training at the weekend and tests during the week, when Grainne pointed this out to them, they rearranged for tests at the weekend but training during the week. We weren’t very impressed to say the least. When Grainne complained about their error she received a curt email saying they were refunding her money (she hadn’t asked for this) and “wished her luck with her new training provider”. Clearly when training their staff they skipped the customer service module!

So on the basis that she had two years to take her test (the CBT and the Theory Test that she had passed expiring after this time) we decided she could get some experience under her belt before tackling the tests.

And I was very proud of her when on one of our first ride outs together she inquired…. “can I go green laning on a VanVan?” I like that sort of enthusiasm!

On the subject of motorbike training I have to say after my many years of riding bikes, I’m often unimpressed with modern training schools, the bikes are often well bashed (understandable but failure to rectify this on a regular basis doesn’t present a very professional image), hi-viz jackets and loan equipment often looks grubby and quite often their facilities aren’t exactly confidence inspiring. Rebel Dog were no different in this respect, operating out of a shabby porta cabin in an industrial estate car park.

However all was going well and her confidence and riding were improving nicely when she broke her shoulder in non bike related incident….

This set Grainne back a few months but this summer she got back in the saddle and started  riding the VanVan again and I'm pleased to say,  despite her claims to “have forgotten everything” she clearly hadn’t!

I then happened to spot a good deal from BMW. Having just brought out their new G310R, a perfect next bike after the test they were also offering a package for the new rider. Their “Rookie to Rider” scheme is based around a 2 year PCP of a G310R but in addition and for no extra charge they throw in a 7 day training course including CBT and both test modules at the BMW Rider School (worth £1800) and £1100 worth of BMW riding kit… what was not to like?

The deal was done, a shopping trip to the clothing department of BMW Wollaston Motorrad in Northampton duly undertaken and the training course booked, although the earliest slot was not until late September. We also got to see her bike that had already arrived in the showroom. It was wearing a 17 number plate but upon finding out it couldn’t be collected until after the training course, they re-registered it on a correct 67 plate.

The date eventually arrived and having booked a week off work, Grainne decamped to my sister Gina’s house for the week as she only lives 10 minutes away from the Rider School that is based just north of Royston on the Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire border.

Grainne fully expected to be training on a G310R which would enable her to get an A2 licence (bikes up to 47 bhp) but although they had just taken delivery of them at the school,  they stuck her on a BMW F700GS!

Thankfully it was the lowered suspension model with the low seat option but still quite a beast for someone of Grainne’s height. A week of training followed including a refresh of her CBT on a 125 and then training at the rider school and many miles around the Cambridgeshire roads. Her training was very professional and even included a trip to the test centre near Cambridge to practice the Module 1 test in the exact place she was taking it rather than the normal car park in an industrial estate. 

Thursday dawned and full of trepidation she headed off for her first test, of course she needn’t have worried and passed easily! First hurdle surmounted!

The next day it was back to take the Module 2, on-road test and once again she passed! And as she had done both on the 700, she has a full A class licence with no restrictions! To say I'm really proud of her would be a huge understatement!

That evening, the ceremonial removal of the L plates was followed by a ride round the local lanes on the VanVan whilst I followed on my Honda CB500X, this was also my first foray onto two wheels following my knee injury.

Then on the Saturday morning we headed off to Wollaston BMW, two up  on my Honda to collect her new bike. Cue one happy biker and a fun ride home on the back roads to Milton Keynes.

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