The CBT. ‘Compulsory Basic Training’ or ‘Can’t Bloody Turn’ as it will be forever known to me.
I guess most people see their CBT as a means to an end, an inconvenient hurdle they have to jump over in order to ride their bike on the road. Just something they have to do. For me it was like a Red Letter Day of terror.
Now, I know you’re thinking, ‘Jesus woman get a grip, it’s just your CBT’ and I totally agree.
You see i’m not like most bikers, i’m not a traditional thrill seeker. Nor am I a natural when it comes to picking things up. I’m a bit of a dilly dallier and a bit of a fanny really.
But I am EAGER and God loves a trier.
Rewind to last year when I decided to book my CBT after riding pillion a few times on the back of a Triumph Street Triple R. For years i’d muttered, ‘pfft! You’d never get me in the back of a bike…’ but after actually trying it, I knew riding was something I really wanted to do myself. It made me giddy and I started looking at bikes i’d like to buy one day. I had a romantic view of the CBT and had even passed my CAT A in my head. I rang Moto Technique, spoke to Andy and booked the course. Good. Booked. Awesome.
And then The Fear started to creep in.
What if I can’t do it? I drive an automatic car, what’s a clutch?! How do I change gears? What if i’m the only girl and they laugh at me?
I booked the day off work and pooped my pants all the way to the bike centre. I arrived but I wasn’t the only girl, so I needn’t have worried about that. There was actually three of us and two fellas. One lady was a yoga teacher and so laid back I wasn’t sure how she was actually going to stay upright on two wheels, the other was a loud Russian who was one of the ‘inconvenient hurdle’ gang. She was feisty and I liked her a lot. The dudes, well one was about seven feet tall and one average height. They both seemed pleasant but to be honest, Feisty didn’t really let them get a word in, so I couldn’t really tell.
We sat patiently as Chris the instructor for the day gave us our safety briefing and I listened to EVERY SINGLE THING. He went round the room and asked if we’d ridden before. Feisty had, obviously. Yoga had been on a scooter but not ridden gears before. Then it was me. Ridden a bike? Nope. But can drive a car? Yep. Manual? Nope. But you passed your test in a manual, right? Nope. Oh.
THE FEAR x 1,000,000,000.
So all kitted up we trooped out to the waiting car. I sat in the back sandwiched between Feisty and the tall dude. All in bike gear and carrying helmets. Yoga was loving the reclining action of the front seat. Needless to say we didn’t think that bit through.
When we arrived at the Etihad stadium Chris and another guy (whose name I can’t remember for the life of me but let’s call him Hi Vis Brian* for the sake of this post) unloaded the bikes. Five Silver Honda CG 125s. I really started to pap myself at this point.
Chris did a walk around the bike talking about the breaks, lights and other bike things, but all I could think about was having to ride the bike in front of these guys. I didn’t want to be crap.
Right, time to saddle up. Pleeeeease let me be good.
Chris and Hi Vis Brian showed us how to find the bite point and inch forward a few feet. That wasn’t too bad – oh look I survived! In no time I was tentatively riding up and down the carpark trying to make my hands and feet work independently from one another. That didn’t come naturally to me and neither did the clutch…STALL. I kept forgetting to roll off the throttle whilst pulling the brake and I ran onto the gravel more than once. I was told to ‘look up’ 79,000 times, which sounds easy but felt impossible. My eyes were glued to the floor two feet in front of the bike. Needless to say me and the Silver Bullet didn’t make it round quite a few of the early corners.
The morning absolutely whizzed by and before I knew it, it was time to retreat to the car. I’d enjoyed the morning but I didn’t feel confident in my abilities to go out on the road. Feisty was raring to go, Yoga was up for it and the guys seemed good to go. Hi Vis Brian loaded the bikes onto the van whilst Chris took us to one side and told each of us whether we were OK to go out on the road in the afternoon. I was absolutely convinced I’d have to come back for another training session. It turned out that it wasn’t me who got knocked back it was the average height guy. Whoa what?! Did they see me riding round that carpark?! Average height guy was WELL cheesed off.
We made our way back to the bike centre but The Fear just wouldn’t leave me. So after some thought I took Chris to one side and told him I didn’t want to go out on the road. We talked it through and he didn’t try to persuade me. I was glad about that, he was a good guy. Hi Vis Brian asked me to stay for the afternoon briefing and then make my mind up, which I did but the answer was still no.
I skulked over to Andy sat behind the desk and booked in for my second day. He was just lovely though. He said that plenty of people take two sessions to pass the CBT. I prayed it wouldn’t take me three…
*The real Hi Vis Brian works for Revzilla