Tom Sharpe's Motorcycle Diaries (Part 1)

Tom Sharpe's Motorcycle Diaries (Part 1)

By | 12/11/2009 0 comments

Tom Sharpe's Motorcycle Diaries (Part 1)


Togged up to the nines in armour-plated endurance motor-cycle kit I feel like a baby wearing one of those cosy-looking jump suites...it's the same sensation you get when you wrap your head up in the duvet at night. Safe, insulated.
The fact that I'm stood on the shop floor at B&M Honda—just off junction 30 of the M1, Barlborough—and not about to take to the road on a motorbike accounts for the fact that, for the moment at least, I feel safe.
Over the next few weeks I will be taken well out of my comfort zone, however, after accepting an offer from the boss of the aforementioned motorcycle Mecca, Dave Munt, to acquire the skills needed to get me into the saddle.
It is probably fair to say that any excitement I feel is tempered by a significant dose of trepidation but the opportunity to improve my road craft, experience a glimpse of life on two wheels and get training from the highly-recommended ATB Rider Training, in Darnall, made Dave's offer hard to resist...here we go.

First things first. Second only to a high standard of training when it comes to being safe on a motor-cycle is having the correct protective equipment.
At this time of year insulated, waterproof clothing is top of the agenda and B&M Honda stepped up to the mark.
Mandy Jarvis is the diminutive clothing assistant with the knowledge to wade through the showroom's vast accessory range and fill the requirements of a raft of bikers—from track day racers to long-distance tourers.
She said: "There are much worse jobs than dressing bikers for a living."
With the approval of B&M boss, Dave, Mandy headed straight to RST's hard-wearing Enduro range to suite me up.
After sweating under layers of Cordura, Gortex, Kevlar and heaven knows what else, I finally settled on: an RST Enduro 1330 Jacket (£99.99); RST Pro Syncro 1345 Jean trousers (£115.99); a pair of RST Venture Waterproof Glove (£24.99); and some RST Vortex 2 Waterproof Boots (£79.99).
Mandy then proceeded to force my head into a dramatically painted SHARK S500 Air helmet (£119.99).
It might feel like I am sucking my cheeks in more than Victoria Beckham at a red carpet Movie premier but the more secure the better, I am told, before settling for 'Medium' size.

My next appointment is at ATB Rider Training—off Greenland Road, Darnall—for a riding assessment.
Senior instructor Jonathan Hinchcliffe guided me through the low speed manoeuvres which I barely recalled from my Compulsory Bike Training in August Last year.
Balancing throttle and rear brake to complete figure of eights and laps their off-road manoeuvres pad it slowly begins to come back.
Jonathan's reassurances set me at ease but we both know there is a long way to go. Balance is one thing, road craft and the manoeuvres required for the DAS Test, are something else.
Jonathan said: "You'll be fine and we'll have some fun along the way.
"There's no rush. We have to make sure people are ready for the road, that's the responsibility we have as trainers.
"ATB haven't failed anyone since the new test came in."
Five days training from figure of eights to accomplished road rider? Watch this space.
For more information about B&M Honda vist www.bmhonda.co.uk
Visit www.atbtraining.co.uk to find out about courses with ATB Rider Training.


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