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Second Big Bike Lesson

Blog date Sept 2015

The last day of September 2015 and my alarm goes off at 6am. Nooooooo! Too early. My 1st bike lesson was an 11am start but lesson 2 is an 8:45am start. I will have rush hour to contend with this morning due to this morning's lesson, hence the horrendous sound of beep, beep, beep at 6am. I do not want to get out of bed, it is warm and comfy in here. 

I drag myself up reluctantly and proceed to get dressed. But there is a problem I cannot find my bike key anywhere. I have a little box all my keys go into but it is not in there. Rushing around looking in all types of places brings no result. Arghhh, I am out of time so I dig out the spare. At least I've got a spare but it just does not feel like a good start. 

I am on the bike at 7:15am just as the light begins to appear in the sky. Once again it is dry and once again I am not looking forward to my lesson. I annoy myself I really do. Why can't I be all excited about it? I want my full bike licence so these lessons are a good thing. I hated my driving lessons many years ago and unfortunately time has not managed to rid me of that feeling of dread when it comes to lessons. I try my best to have a word with myself I really do but my stomach refuses to unknot.
The rush hour traffic is not as heavy as I thought it might be and I arrive at the training centre in good time at 8:20am. The cafe next door is open so time for a brew and a toasted teacake before the lesson begins.

The lesson begins back on the pad with more slow riding. It is all coming together much better today. The ride is much smoother now because I am more successful at balancing the clutch and throttle. 

Balance wise the Figs of 8 go well but I miss the corners at first due to my inability to look where I want to go. It has been a constant problem with my riding from the beginning. I look where I am heading rather than where I want to go. Thus my turns are always too wide. I really need to develop a swivel head. With doing my best to turn my head sooner rather than late the figs of 8 improve and the U-turns are fine. I am still pleasantly surprised how well the MT07 turns and how stable it feels in those turns compared to the 125cc.

Finally it is time to take to the roads. Following Steve we take the route I used on my way here. Just after the bridge is a really sharp turn. Once again the MT07 feels more solid and planted around this bend. I love my 125cc but it seems it is true that bigger bikes can feel more stable. I still have not mastered the gears yet and gear changes are a bit jerky. 

Steve took me to a quiet road and put some cones out to practise all the elements needed for the Mod 1 test.  
I really enjoy the slalom. I just find it so easy to weave in between the cones. Feel I could do it all day. The emergency stop is ok but I need a few goes to correct my mistakes and try to shorten my stopping distance. I never skid the bike or lock up the wheels. I do however pull in the clutch too soon and don't trust the brakes enough but each run gets a bit better. 
The swerve test is scary. Again with not knowing the bike well it is hard to know how far you can push it. If I get one part right I then mess up the other and vice-versa. But that is why we do these lessons and practise, practise, practise. Steve keeps me at it with encouragement and great advise. 
Pushing the bike proves the be the hardest part. The weight difference between the the MT07 and my 125 is very apparent. I sweat a lot in all my bike gear. There is no grab rail on the back of the MT07 so I have to push it back by placing my hand on the back seat. Not a manoeuvre I am familiar with so will need to practise this at home with my 125 so I can get the feel of it. Because it is so much heavier, leaning the bike into my hip like I do with my 125 puts far too much weight onto me. Therefore keeping the bike more upright so its weight is evenly balanced seems the best option with heavier bikes. But it is a tricky balancing act to keep it level.

Time is moving on and it is soon time for the ride back to base. I am not too tired today and wait for it ... I actually enjoyed riding this bike at long last. Yes I have relaxed enough and got to know the bike enough to enjoy it. The gear changes are now much smoother. I can tell this bike could easily wheelie given half a chance but I feel in control of the bike. This is fun.

Back at base I feel much better about how I did today, especially with enjoying the road ride. I ask Steve if he felt I would be ready for my Mod 1 test which is booked in for a week on Wednesday. There is no availability for next week so I will go for a week without training in between. 
Steve says I have good balance on the bike, I control the bike well and have good road sense due to the miles already travelled on my own bike. He also tells me that I am a much better rider than I myself believe I am. If he could just shake out my nerves and give me the same amount of confidence that he has in my level of ability then I would walk both tests. The only thing that could let me down is my own nerves and my own lack of self belief.

Steve's words of confidence in me go a long way in improving my own self belief and for that I am very grateful.

Sharon battles with her 125 on a narrow farm track in the lake district
Maybe just maybe if I can get myself turned around on narrow slippery dirt tracks then maybe I can believe in myself enough to pass my tests. 

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