Published 25 July 2022
Last updated 5 September 2022
In this blog, Samantha talks about what inspired her to learn to ride, gives us some excellent tips on preparing for compulsory basic training (CBT) and talks us through what happened on the big day!
After spending my Easter weekend marvelling at the wonderful mopeds at the Whitby National Scooter rally, I decided to embrace my secret desire and learn to ride!
I only wanted a moped to zip around town (and for the occasional journey to work) and had already fallen in love with a 50cc model. Whilst I do have a full car licence, I knew I would have to do my CBT to be able to ride.
Preparing for CBT
I looked online, spoke to others who had recently completed their CBT, and popped into local motorcycle shops. I found ‘crowdsourcing’ information very helpful, as it gave me a number of different options to choose from. It also gave me fresh confidence that I was choosing the right CBT trainer for me.
Of course you’ll have your own ideas about choosing the ‘right’ trainer, but I strongly suggest that you take time to do a bit of research. You’ll pick up a lot of useful information, feel safer, and much more informed.
As part of my prep, I revisited The Highway Code (the 2022 new edition was just published) and enjoyed the online Ridefree training. Ridefree is an excellent way of helping car drivers to ‘think’ as a rider not a driver, with lots of interactive content on developing your hazard perception skills.
As well as the theory, it pays to think about practical requirements such as dressing sensibly on the day. I wore thick jeans and good sturdy shoes which protected my ankles. If you’re unsure about what you should wear, my advice is to contact your trainer before you go – if you’re not dressed right you won’t be riding!
On the day
In the morning we spent time in the classroom before moving onto the practice course. I’d never been on a bike and I quickly realised that there’s a lot to cover, from basic maintenance of equipment to learning and repeating a number of different manoeuvres, including moving away, riding slowly, riding in a straight line, stopping; figure of eight, U-turn, turning and finally the emergency stop.
In case you’re wondering, observation is thoroughly covered. OSM, PSL (look it up!) really can be a lifesaver and your instructor will expect you to practise it at all times.
After lunch, it was time for the practical. It was raining heavily (tip – waterproof trousers are a must, hindsight is a wonderful thing!) and after an unexpected road closure, which lead to a rather big roundabout diversion, we spent two hours riding around, tackling traffic lights, more roundabouts (there was lots of these!), junctions, pedestrian crossings, hills and turns, as well as demonstrating manoeuvres to show full control of the bike. Everyone in the group had radios so we could listen and speak to each other. At the beginning our instructor gave us clear directions, and by the end we were happily riding with less and less input as our confidence grew.
The day was informal. Whilst you follow a curriculum, everything happens at your own pace and if you are unsure just ask questions. I did. Even if it felt silly, my instructor was happy to help. Supporting your other classmates is important too. You can share your nerves, advice and observations, and cheer on each other’s successes. Enjoy it!