Examiner: David Collicott. Distance 43.1 miles.
After five years, two false starts, three tutors and two check-out rides, the time had finally come for me to put my motorcycling abilities to the test, and at long last my cheque for £54 was in the post. Four weeks later I found myself pulling into a side road to meet my examiner, former police officer, RoSPA Gold/Diploma holder, Advanced Tutor and ‘blood biker’ David Collicott. Although I was nervous, David made me feel completely at ease. “We’re just going for a ride. Ride the way you usually do.”
And that’s pretty much what I did. After a POWDER check, we set off for the on-road part of the test which lasted about an hour and a quarter – slightly longer than usual because we hit rush-hour traffic around Tewkesbury. Almost as soon as we pulled out of the rendezvous point on to the A38 I found myself muttering repeatedly under my breath, “I could have done that better… I could have done that better…”: an opportunity to filter which I only took after some hesitation; noticing some brake lights slightly late and having to brake gently instead of throttling back and sweeping through the gap as it opened back up; being distracted by pedestrian behaving strangely near a junction, not noticing the NSL sign, then riding along at 49mph and subsequently missing an opportunity to overtake; riding over some manhole covers instead of around them. Every one of these detracts from the sort of polish and consistency that a Gold standard rider displays – not that I was expecting to reach that standard.
With the on-road part completed, we sat down and went through some Highway Code signs. I did okay-ish… I didn’t know all the differences between Pelican and Toucan crossings (Rules 196 & 199), but I did know exactly when and where a Highways Agency Traffic Officer can stop you (Rule 108). Then I spoiled it by saying “agricultural vehicle” instead of “road maintenance vehicle” when asked about crossing solid white lines (Rule 129). *:(
At the end of it all, David awarded me a “solid” Silver pass. Considering I started the course with the intention of scraping a Bronze and maybe aspiring to a Silver in the far distant future, I was more than pleased with his decision.
My thanks go to Stephen Wilkinson-Carr for twelve months of mentoring and encouragement and more recently to Steve Kendall who put the finishing touches to my preparation for the test. They both displayed admirable patience and an unfailing sense of humour faced with a student who had forty years of bad habits to unlearn. Oh, and a brief word of thanks to the chap in Upton-upon-Severn who failed to spot a fifteen-stone bloke wearing a hi-vis jacket sitting astride a quarter of a ton of motorcycle with its headlights on and leapt out from between some parked cars just feet from my front wheel. You actually made me look good!
So… now what? Well, onwards and upwards, I suppose. Since RoADAR expects its members to retest every three years, I shall be using that time to acquire some of that Gold polish I hear so much about!
This was the route we followed:-