This is a legal requirement for anybody who wants to ride a motorcycle on the road. It does exactly what it says- basic training to ensure that you are safe to be out on the road. It is a full days course split in to sections.
I did my CBT training with right rider, Dumfries. There were 2 of us ‘pupils’ (or ‘patients’ as Cheryl mistakenly referred to me as) on the course although there can be more. On this day I was also lucky enough to get 2 instructors. Frank, the main instructor was watching his colleague Paul who is training to be an instructor at present. One message of the day was that yes it is training which results in a small assessment (not using the word test) but it is also meant to be fun.
The day began with introductions, checking we have the right licence and reading a number plate on the car up the road. The aims of the CBT were explained followed by some basic theory mostly about safety and the importance of the right clothing. Helmet, very important- new is always best, as you don’t know what’s happened to it before you get it if it’s second hand. By looking at a helmet that’s been cut in half we see exactly what it’s made of and were told what happens to the helmet if you have an accident or drop it. The instructors explained that if a helmet has had an impact then the polystyrene inside will break up. This will not protect your head should you come off the bike again and the helmet takes another impact. This is why you should not wear a helmet if it has been damaged. The message that a new helmet is always best was really reinforced by this part of the talk. The importance of wearing all the correct clothing and equipment for motorcycling was discussed and our own clothing looked at. Also what each item of clothing protects and how it does this, for example boots protecting from crushing injuries if the bike lands on your foot. Followed by what could happen to you if you choose not to wear the correct equipment. This was actually quite interesting for being a safety talk and presented well.
I found this a good opportunity to attempt to relax. Despite being told that this was nearly impossible to fail by friends and family (which is not the case, according to the instructors several people do have to come back and try again). I still found my self feeling very nervous, almost to the point of feeling sick. The instructors however were great. They really made me feel at ease very quickly, this was a fairly informal session and was punctuated by the instructors giving examples from their experiences which were although serious also somewhat amusing in hind sight. This giving a more reality based safety message as opposed to ‘what if” (this stuff really does happen).
Then came Element B. I could again feel myself becoming anxious as we were heading over to get on the bikes for the first time. This is called practical site training and we were in an old school playground with lots of cones sitting. The instructors began by explaining the controls of the bike and how it works. Followed by showing us how to do some basic checks such as checking the oil, brakes and chain. There was a lot to remember in this part but we were told this will be reiterated throughout the lessons and leading up to the test. Taking the bike on and off the stand and pushing it round in both directions is something that I found easy on the little bike, hopefully it wont be too difficult on the big bike.
Element C- the practical site training- the more fun part. Actually getting on the bike and riding it. To begin with I was a bit wobbly and definitely not very smooth! I was using the throttle as a start stop switch so felt like I was on a faulty fairground ride. I realised pretty quickly what I was doing wrong and the instructors picked up on it too, encouraging me to use the back break for slow speed control. Would you believe it worked? After a short time I was doing slaloms and figures of 8 through some strategically placed cones. More cones were set up to simulate a road and we were practicing the road positioning and executing both a left and right turn. The most important message to remember being to look where you want to go! And also for the instructor- do not leave your leather jacket anywhere near newbies! I accidentally managed to run over one as it was sitting at the edge of the site-oops!
After much apologising and a bit more practice we headed back to base for a bit more theory- the beginning of element D. This covers a multitude of practical issues riding a motorcycle encounters. From the importance of visibility to hazard perception and the effects of the many variables (eg. Road condition, surface and weather). Here we looked at the theory of riding on the road such as the approach to roundabouts, junctions, lifesavers (where and when to do them) and why we should know the highway code. Being a car driver made this section easier as I already have the basic knowledge of the rules of the road, such as what side I should be riding on and what lane I should be in when approaching a roundabout. Surprisingly not everyone knows which side of the road they should be on! I was by this point much more relaxed and really was enjoying my day.
Finally the best bit, Element E- practical on road training. This was really just a fun ride out, ensuring that I can negotiate traffic lights, roundabout, junctions and other obstacles that crop up on everyday roads- at the minute a fair amount of road works! There was a fair bit of riding around in circles through some housing schemes as the young person who was learning to ride a moped got some practice in doing junctions. We got to practice carrying out a U-turn and an emergency stop under normal road conditions which I found no trouble at all when I was looking where I wanted to go. We headed back to base after a couple of hours out on the road for our final feedback and find out if we were to be let loose on the road. I did fine feedback was overall pretty good. Some minor things that I will need to work on for my test. I left feeling much more confident on the bike and most importantly I passed!!! Thankfully as it would have been incredibly embarrassing to write this had I failed. Next lesson is booked for Wednesday morning on a 125cc and then hopefully if that goes well its on to the big bikes!