25 years to get my bike license

I’ve wanted a bike since I can remember but it’s taken me 25 years to get my bike license.

Every birthday and Christmas growing up as a kid I wanted a motorbike.  It was never under the tree and I eventually saved enough money to get a bike when I was 13.

It was a farm bike, an ER185 Suzuki, and I used to go down to the Stillwater reserve and Mum would sunbath while I would ride around on my motorbike.

James, with his mum on the back of his bike in Stillwater

My best friend and I used to race around Stillwater, we didn’t have lights on one of the bikes so we used to strap a flashlight to the front of it so we could ride it at night when our parents thought we were in bed.  Out in the country, that’s the kind of place Stillwater was.

In my teens I had a car accident which damaged my leg so that put my riding on hold for a while and since then my only riding experience is on a farm bike – which is totally different – riding on dirt than the road.

This year however, I have decided that I am going to get that bike.

Step 1 – get my licence

I’m not looking to kill myself on a bike so I’m going about it a bit different than I did at 13.  I went to a riding instructor to sit my basic handling skills test which wasn’t hard.  It’s been about 15 years since I sat a theory based test so I decided to practice a bit and went through 10 tests online before I went and sat (and passed) the theory test.

Step 2 – get on the road

I don’t want to get a bike without any experience or confidence on the road.  We were lucky enough to go to the bike show with the kids last weekend and while we were there we met Paul from Passmasters Rider Training who offer the Ride Forever programme. This is funded through ACC so for a full 8 hour day riding was only $20.  Given I didn’t have a bike, they also leant me a bike for the day at a really competitive price.

It was nerve wracking jumping on a bike and getting out in to traffic for the first time.  I rode with the instructor from Henderson to Manukau and met the other riders and spent the first hour having a coffee, meeting everyone else and learning a bit more before we headed out.  We were able to tell the instructors what we wanted to get out of the day and felt really listened to.

The bronze course is an urban course designed to get you used to riding in high traffic areas.  It covers things like rider positioning and safe positions to be on the road, but also extended into cornering and handling on open roads as well.

For this part we headed out to Clevedon towards the end of the day where we eventually got to ride freely without the constraints of traffic lights which is every riders ultimate dream.

The confidence and experience that I got on that 8 hour course I couldn’t have got on my own.  Not only will I be able to sit my restricted earlier but I feel like I am able to ride to survive now.  A big thank you to Paul, our course instructor.

I can’t recommend it more – you can get in touch with them here.

Step 3 – get the bike

For me it’s about swapping dreams.  I’m selling my dream car of my 20’s – a VH Commodore that I built up from a rolling body – that spends most of its life in the garage on registration hold despite being drivable but old and expensive to run.

The next few months will be about getting him ready for sale and then out looking for a bike.  We’ll keep you posted.