Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

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A Final One Finger Salute

DEC 18

It has been 3 years since I passed my mods and gained my full licence. I can still recall the stomach churning nerves I had while training with my instructors and the miracle that occurred during the actual mods when I found the ability to calm those nerves and breathe. I recall believing in myself during mod 1 and actually smiling during my favourite part - the slalom. I was ecstatic to get the Mod 1 pass with 1 minor. 

Then on to mod 2. I thought I did great on my mod 2. I am my own worse critic so to say that I really thought I had aced it. I almost gave my instructor the thumbs up on way into the test centre after the test I was that confident I had a pass, with maybe 1 or 2 minors max.  

Hmmm so much for confidence, I got maximum minors allowed of 10 for a pass. The examiner was a beast during the debriefing, he had no praise for my riding at all, not one positive and pulled me to shreds. He said I needed more training and basically was poop. This made no sense because why pass me if I was that bad? 

This dressing down really shook my confidence but my lovely instructor took the time to convince me the examiner was a known arse who rarely passed anyone and to get a pass under him was a major achievement and my riding was fine. Yet despite the fact I knew this to be true it took me a long time to mentally detach myself from those 10 minors and his overly critical remarks.

So every time I do anything like ride the NC500 route in Scotland or tackle the Picos mountains in Northern Spain I put my finger up to my examiner. Look at me now Mr Examiner no further training was required for these trips.

Sharon throws her arms open in joy at the amazing scenery of The Picos in Spain
Take a look at me now

Last weekend after work I loaded my bike to ride the hundred odd miles to Yorkshire to spend the evening with good friends. The weather was most unpleasant. The rain was torrential and the wind was blowing hard. But I took pleasure in taking on the elements and battled on along the motorway on my small naked Kawasaki Z250SL. I have no fairings,  I have no screen,  I have no handguards or heated grips. 

What I have is determination and a love of riding. I have the memory of an examiner who on my test day was too much of a wimp to ride alongside me that day in the wind and rain so followed me in a car. Once again Mr Examiner as I plough happily on through the wind and rain to my destination I stick my finger up to you. 

Darkness has descended as Ren and I come off the motorway and we have miles of single track country roads to travel to get to our friends. The road twists and turns, there are gravel washouts on the roads due to the heavy rain, potholes and puddles, all to be negotiated with limited vision. Visors have to be lifted up to aid vision even though icy rain stings our eyes. 

A drystone wall suddenly juts out at a bizarre angle and you have to keep your stinging eyes peeled. We have never rode this road before so we have to ride with instinct and skill. We pass farmyards with slippery mud and animal dung to ride through. I am cautious, a little nervous but not terrified.  

Over a narrow bridge a sharp turn and we reach our destination. We are welcomed in from the cold and the rain and sat before a roaring fire and given warm tea. All these wonderful friends are friends I have made through riding my bike. 

They tell me I am a hard core biker to come out on my bike on a night like this. They make me smile and feel proud. I warm my toes by the fire and as I gaze into the flames I once again I give the one finger salute to Mr Examiner. If only you could see this hard core biker now Mr Soft Examiner. 

But I think it is time I took your 10 minors and your nasty critical soul destroying comments and throw them finally into the fire. As the memory of you turns to ash Mr Examiner I bid you a final finger salute of farewell. I do not need you to have faith in me, I now have faith in myself.  

Sharon is surrounded by friends all smiling in the cold sun in Wales
Biker buddies they warm the cockles of your heart and your frozen toes.


If you want to share your 2 wheeled success - and failures - here on Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Jester said :-
Good for you - I've quietly followed your adventures, and read your accounts of going through Mod 1 and Mod 2 with wide eyes as I readied myself to go through the ordeal myself a couple of years ago. I went from CBT through to the full license in a few short months, and like you was my own harshest critic - convinced that I failed my Mod 2 after pulling across a solid white line that appeared as I approached a junction, got told to change lanes through the squawky earpiece and did all my checks and indicators only to notice the dashed line had changed and I rode over about 2 ft of solid line. That was it for me, I relaxed, mostly because I figured it was over but thankfully it wasn't even noticed and I passed. Since then I commuted 80 miles a day and took trips from the Midlands to the Scottish border - no further training required... (And just so Ren doesn't feel left out, I've watched his battles with the mechanical side of things and even started doing my own maintenance too)
I've recently moved to the USA, which to my horror means I've got to go through the whole thing again, twice because I need a car licence too. And I'm not allowed to filter through traffic in the state I'm in - most annoying, but then the juggernauts they call cars here makes me think that's probably a life extending problem I'll gladly live with!
All the best for upcoming year - and look forwards to reading about the adventures to come.

16/12/2018 6:55:21 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Jester. The good 'old U S of A huh? I'd be interested to hear what the test involves there. Am I correct in thinking it varies from state to state?

I find it hard to believe someone reading about my bodges and hacks has inspired anyone to get their tools out and dig into their motorcycles. I'll do my best to bring you more mechanical mishaps.
17/12/2018 10:46:09 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
As I understand it, each state has its own tests, rules etc. I believe that filtering is legal in California for example but rarely elsewhere. Florida has very "relaxed" rules about licences (or should that be licenses?) - if you have a car licence you just have to attend a riders' course which gives you "basic entry-level skills", after which you can leap on the nearest 200mpg rocket and ride off into the sunset.
17/12/2018 3:13:45 PM UTC
Rod said :-
'200 mpg rocket'
Must be an Enfield Diesel!
Sorry Ian.lol
17/12/2018 5:35:53 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I suppose it was a subconscious bowing to Ren's noted parsimony!
18/12/2018 10:24:51 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Don't you be bloming me for your inabulity to use a keybiurd.
18/12/2018 10:44:05 AM UTC
Sharon said :-
Thanks Jester,
Always good to know someone somewhere reads your stuff and gets something from it. Well done on passing all your mods.
So you are about to embark on more training for your USA licences. Good luck. Hope all goes well for you and your future there in the States. Keep us updated how motorcycling over there compares to over here. X
26/12/2018 7:12:12 PM UTC
Shirley Molyneux said :-
Another fabulous write up Sharon. I do hope the examiner reads your blog. You are indeed a hardcore biker who ( or is that whom) should be proud of the miles you ride in all weathers and situations. I for one envy your tenacity. Ride safe.
3/1/2019 10:44:01 PM UTC

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