Story by Bad Boy Wannabe Biker – Faizel
Under a dreary and threatening sky, Hein arrives on what looks to be a Honda CBF at the training venue and I am thinking, impressive bike for training. He sets up his table asks us to have coffee, takes the gorgeous bike away and returns with 2 Honda 150cc bikes.
Up close and personal with the bike and I realise that I don’t know anything about what the buttons are for and am wondering if the gloves will even allow me to operate them. Hein goes over some important items and I hope he can’t hear me going brrrm, brrrm under my breath. The advice on helmet purchase was interesting as it was pretty much what I researched. I liked that he didn’t sell any particular brand, but spoke around the safety features. “Please check for grooves on the inside of the helmet as that means the helmet was designed with crumple zones.” My el cheapo helmet has grooves – happiness. He went on to discuss gloves, jackets, pants and boots pointing out all of the do’s and don’ts when purchasing. Years of riding and training all bundled into a 30 minute safety brief, I should have brought a notebook.
We huddle around the bike and all of the buttons are discussed together with the kickstand and the lights. “Never flash when you are on your bike”, he said. I am pretty sure he was referring to the lights. Ok, so lights are left, start button is right, indicators are left, throttle is right and clutch is left, brakes are right and kickstand is left. And moving right along. How to get onto the bike. Very practical and it makes sure that you don’t look like a complete fool when getting on or off the bike. I managed to do 2 silly things, I have this hop when I jump off the bike and I don’t bend my right knee when jumping on. This is promptly fixed by Adriaan (Hein’s son and Junior Instructor) who advised that the bike should be on the stand before I am fully off the bike.
Sitting on the bike now and gears are discussed, we get to familiarise ourselves with the clutch and gears a bit and then the part that we were all waiting for. We get to fire up our fire breathing, tar eating monsters. Walk the bike while feathering the clutch, it doesn’t seem too hard and makes us look like ducks but I don’t care – I am on a bike (that’s started as well – woohoo). I think about how to approach the next bit as I know that we will be told to ride. I don’t want to be too brave about things and if this goes badly then the soccer field (my better half’s fond name for my receding hairline) becomes the topic of conversation at the dinner table again. Listen to Hein carefully, follow instructions and be sensible.
“OK, so you are going to do the same thing, but let the clutch out completely and put your feet up” Hein cautiously advises. I listen and obey. I wobble as I try to let the clutch out, the clutch is out and the bike is more stable, I put my feet up and I am riding!!! The cool wind seeps in through my slightly opened visor, my gloves feel at home on the twist grip and clutch, my heart is pounding – I can’t believe I am doing this. Exhilarating, thrilling, electrifying, scary all at the same time and we are only riding in first gear. I love this and can’t believe that I ever had doubts. Awesome seems too mild a word for the experience, they grey sky looked brighter, I could hear the birds chirping and I was smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Take it easy I kept saying to myself and Hein must have thought me such a sissy for puttering around all the time. I like this so much, I don’t really want to give myself a reason not to. The course moved on with gear changes involved and more riding.
I am still having a problem with my take-off as I don’t give enough throttle when taking off and I somehow manage to rev the bike when braking to a stop. Stopping and starting seem to be the hardest bits and I am wobbly at both. I have a close call when making an unnecessary change to third and manage to recover without coming off. There is a lot to take in and even more to remember when riding. I guess experienced riders don’t need to worry about thinking about gear changes and concentrate more on their planning when they are on a journey.
After lunch, the exercises were demonstrated and we needed to push on the grips a bit to manoeuvre the bikes through the cones that were setup. Adriaan demonstrates and he makes it looks so easy. It does look challenging and Hein gives us his best line yet “The mind controls the body which controls the bike; look where you want to go with the bike.” HUH? I don’t understand the concept as I do look where I go (or else I would be walking into walls), but smile and nod anyway. Once on the bike and riding it struck home! You need to look where you want the bike to go as your body follows your head. Makes sense now.
There is light rain now but we ride on and get to practice emergency stops. The last bit of the day ends with us all discussing what our next steps are in our biker wannabe journeys with Hein advising what types of bikes we should get and when we should attend the other courses. We say our goodbyes and I still have a buzz throughout the journey home. I have new found respect for bikers and the skill required for riding. One thing I am now sure about is that I want to get a bike, no – I need to get a bike, no – I HAVE to get a bike.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Listen attentively to Hein. He is a qualified instructor with years of experience. His instructions are clear and concise and will make you enjoy the experience
- Follow the instructions carefully. It is a lot to take in and a lot to put into practice
- Focus – It taxes your attention span and not focussing means you fall off or damage the bike
- Bring a notebook. You can write some of the interesting stuff down. I didn’t and wished I had.
Go too fast. It will just get you into problems and make Hein tug at his goatie