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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well, I’ve not been able to post much or check in to the forum as often as I’d have liked so it’s time to update on my posts about my (faltering) journey towards full bikerdom.

A combination of appalling weather this “summer” and work and family commitments have meant that I’ve had fewer opportunities to get out on the bike so far this year, although when possible I have slipped the occasional ride in, and am still enjoying it. I’d taken this last week off work with the intention of intensive training and taking my test. However, a crisis with my father’s health and the subsequent requirements of hospital visits, appointments, support etc. meant that this couldn’t happen, and I didn’t get out on the bike at all until Thursday. However, with my father now stabilised, the last couple of days have been devoted to riding, and so a couple of brief reports follow. On both occasions, I (on Vanvan ‘Nessie’) was privileged to be accompanied by my trusted friend and riding instructor, Chris X (on Transalp ‘Brian’). :)

Day 1 – Loughborough – Ashbourne - Carsington Water – Matlock Bath – Loughborough (93 miles). The forecast for Thursday was mixed, but, yearning to get out on the bike, we chose to plan a day out regardless. The day dawned sunny and bright and we set off early, filled up with fuel, and headed out with the Peak District in mind as our destination. We have twice set off aiming to make it to Ashbourne, and had never yet got there (the first time taking a wrong turn, the second turning back on account of driving rain). This time, however, we got there quite swiftly (though not without quite a long and boring stretch on the A50 dual carriageway) and without mishap. However, we STILL didn’t find the particular cafe we had in mind and decided to press on to Carsington Water. This previously unknown to me reservoir and visitor attraction proved to be a lovely place to stop for tea and delicious snack in a beautiful setting and warm summer sunshine – one of the great things about learning to ride for me has been discovering so many unknown treasures on my doorstep! A couple of pictures (sadly without the bikes in them!).

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After relaxing for a while (and looking at the map), we set off again, this time with Matlock Bath in mind as a destination. The hilly and twisty Peak roads were quite challenging for me, and I was quite glad to get to Matlock Bath – one of the strangest places I have ever been to! Situated about as far from the sea as it’s possible to be in England, it has all the trappings and attractions of a seaside town, and was full of people eating fish and chips and playing arcade games. Not being a weekend, there was only a modest number of bikes parked on the street, but enough still for it to feel like a biking destination. Not surprising given its stunning scenic backdrop and the wonderful twisty roads.
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We had a good walk, looked in a couple of bike gear shops (but didn't find anything we wanted to buy), and again stopped for a cup of tea. However, the weather was starting to turn to rain (we should have taken more notice of those ominous clouds at Carsington Water!) and we abandoned the notion of continuing on to Buxton before heading home. Instead, we decided to opt for the most direct route back. As we hit the road, the weather set in with a vengeance. This was my first real experience of riding in driving rain for any sustained period, and I found it quite challenging. Not so much the experience of getting wet which I coped with well, as the poor visibility and awareness of the road surface being slippery.Contrary to usual reports, I found car drivers were mostly being very sensible and considerate, keeping their distance and having patience with the relative slowness of my bike. I must admit, I was relieved to get home safe and get into a nice hot bath!

To be continued with Part 2 shortly…
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Sorry, will see if I can sort pictures:rolleyes:

Hopefully sorted out now!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Re: Lulu gets back on the road for another grand day out #2

Day Two – Loughborough – Wisbech – Loughborough (150 miles). Having managed to get my gear more or less dry overnight, and despite a similar weather forecast, I wanted to plough on with more riding. The previous day had made me start to doubt my capability with regard to making it all the way to the National in September (c.144 miles from Loughborough). However, I was also aware that riding in the Peak District is very different from riding along dual carriageway and straight Fenland roads. So, I worked out that if I could make it to the halfway point and back in a day, then there was every reason I’d be able to make it to Filby in a day, even on little old Nessie. We didn’t set out very early, and again had to refuel (not to mention to return to house for forgotten map!). We got going properly just before 12.00. The roads round Leicester were busy, but once we got clear from there the riding was straight forward. We stopped briefly for a rest after about 50 miles. However, having enjoyed clear skies again in the beginning, the rain set in just shortly after Peterborough. Again, it was very heavy – indeed, it was hard enough to hurt as we rode against it - and made visibility very poor (not to mention, two bikers very wet!). Eventually, though, we rode out of it, and as we arrived bedraggled at Wisbech, the sky was blue once again and the sun warm enough to start to dry us out. We had some lunch and tea at the Wheatsheaf Inn which was a handy place to relax (though I felt guilty about leaving two seats wet!), then took a walk around and sat and warmed ourselves in the sun in St. Peter’s Park, which was a lovely quiet place to sit.

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However, the clouds had started to gather again, and with the forecast in mind, we decided to set off home again. It was a straightforward ride and – apart from having to put more fuel into the bikes when Nessie’s light came on – we rode home without stopping, getting back about 17.00. This makes it the longest ride I have ever done in a day (by about 50 miles!) and it has convinced me that I CAN make it to the National on Nessie. During the ride, I was concentrating (on Chris’s advice) primarily on improving my pick-up of speed on moving off, or exiting roundabouts, and it has definitely improved although there is still room for further work. We mostly had an uneventful ride, apart from one incident when a Transit van overtook the HGV that was following me. He obviously hadn’t seen the 2 bikes ahead of the HGV and as there was an island in the centre of the road ahead he had to force his way in between us at speed, and braking sharply. Not a nice moment. Generally, there was less of the sensible and considerate driving that we’d experienced the previous day, but at least we got back safely.

The intention still is to take the test, and I’m hoping to be doing some training on the manoeuvres this weekend, but not sure when I’m going to be able to do the test now.
 

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Great report, I have shown it to my wife who is considering trying biking again. She did her CBT and then lost confidence and her 125 has sat gathering dust for 3 years. Good luck with your training and test :thumbup:
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Good luck to your wife, too. Please tell her I didn't start learning to ride until the grand old age of 51, and am hampered by being only 5'1". But it's still one of the best things I've ever done in my life. Although it can be daunting, my advice would be to take it at the pace at which she's comfortable and gradually build up. There will be good days, when it feels easy, and bad days when nothing seems to go right, but as long as she doesn't feel pressured to do more than she is ready for, she will be fine :thumbup:. And she will have great fun along the way. :)
 

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Nice one Lou,

I don't know you go for a ride down the road from me to carsington and I'm miles away down in Devon.

Are you hoping to get your test done before they change the rules....

Sent from my HTC Desire S
 

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Nice one Lou,

I don't know you go for a ride down the road from me to carsington and I'm miles away down in Devon.

Are you hoping to get your test done before they change the rules....

Sent from my HTC Desire S
Well, that was the plan, Ian. However, things with my dad have rocked the schedule somewhat, and I'm back to work on Monday so it's not so certain. Either way I intend to continue building on my experience and skills. Had a great afternoon on the training ground. Slalom - check. Figure of 8 - check. U-turn - check. Slow ride - check. Swerve and emergency stop - check. The latter two still probably some questions about whether fully up to speed on the trap but much more likely than last time. Road riding doing pretty well too. Now just a question of whether I can fit in the test before time runs out on me.
 

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Nice one Lulu :thumbup:,please tell us you'll make the national this time ? :)
Am DEFINITELY planning on being there, Nick. I've proved I can do the mileage, caravan's booked and Nessie's raring to go :thumbup:. Only major problems with my parents will stop me now - can't wait :blob7:
 

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Good one Lulu
 
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Great stuff. You've some determination there. :thumbup:

Nice photos too.
Thanks. :thumbup: Photos were only with mobile, so nothing special, but the scenery definitely was special. :)
 

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This is fab, Lulu! You really covered some mileage there - good on you and good luck with the test. Look forward to seeing you at the National - hoping to be there under my own steam too! :thumbright:

:sunny:
 
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