Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Well I finished up the H.A.R.T. course with a sunburnt nose and my learner's permit. A few things I picked up along the way.
- Wear sunscreen on your face - you're spending lots of time out in the sun, and the helmet has this big hole in the front to see out of...
- The written test questions are taken from the whole book, not just the parts I found interesting. Sure, I'm not looking for a recreational registration, but they still had the nerve to test me on it anyway!
- Bringing your own gloves - I should say, bringing your own racing gauntlet style gloves - means you take about 3 times as long to get ready to ride as everyone else when putting gear back on. If possible, park your bike at the end of the queue so nobody is waiting for you.
- Don't forget to do up your helmet before you put your gloves on!
- In the riding test, there is no minimum speed for taking the corners at, providing you don't stall (which is an instant fail). I found that taking the 2 test corners at idle in second was perfect: fast enough to maintain balance and control, slow enough to have little risk of running outside the lines.
- During the test, put the clutch in well before coming to a stop (emergency break excepted). There's no point leaving it to the last second if you stall.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I've just gotten home from day one of the 2 day learner rider course run by H.A.R.T. at Tullamarine. Not a lot to say, except that riding bikes is a hell of a lot of fun!
The sense of achievement is excellent - I think the course is worth the price for that alone!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I've been searching the internet, font of truth that it is, and have found a few useful things along the way...
Here's a video introduction to riding a bike.
There's also this 1993 study into Motorcycle safety in Victoria, and the 1998 follow up study (if you like reading academic reports). Apart from the stats on accidents and the contributing factors, the one thing that jumped out at me was the recommendation in the '93 report of a scheme to limit motorbikes for learners based on power to weight ratios rather than just engine capacity. Victoria introduced such a scheme in the middle of last year - 15 years after it was mentioned in the report!
There's another intro to riding video by a guy who calls himself "Motorman". The video is okay once you get the image of Duffman out of your head (though the audio quality is irritating).
If you're in search of a reality check, here's 10 minutes of accidents accompanied by tips for riding safely. Some of the accidents were fatalities and they look it, pretty chilling when the biker wasn't at fault.
Lastly, this add is good for a laugh.
Thinking back, I have to blame Ewan McGreggor and Charley Boorman. It was their Long Way Round motorcycle adventure that first planted the seeds of wanting to ride a bike. The show itself I found compelling viewing - frustrated watching it only in weekly installments, we went out and bought the DVD so we could binge on the rest of the series!
Then came Long Way Down, Race to Dakar, and Charley Boorman's "By Any Means", followed closely by train cancellations galore courtesy of Connex who are incapable of running Melbourne's train network when the temperature gets above* 30 degrees.
Somewhere in there, my brother and his wife got their bike licenses and started riding to work, and I have thought about their descriptions of arriving at work refreshed after a fun ride in while I sat on an overcrowded platform waiting for a train that never came.
This is a bit unusual for me. By and large I'm risk averse. I have a little daughter and I worry about her growing up fatherless. Oh and did I mention, if I died in a motorcycle accident my wife would kill me? And yet, thinking about shaving between 30 and 60 minutes a day off my commute, not to mention the adventure of learning to ride and buying a bike, has me thinking that this is a really viable idea to explore.
So here we are on Day 1 of the journal - exploration continues, and I'm booked in for me Learners test next weekend!
* or below, apparently.