How long have I been riding? Well, the answer to that depends on your definition. I’ve been going out on a motorbike as a pillion since 2000, but under my own steam on my own scooter/bike, since March 2012. Having 9 years of riding experience as a 25 year-old female is an interesting place to be and not something many people expect when they see me but it always provides a talking point.
I have actually passed my motorbike test 3 times! And all because I was born at just the wrong time and ended up doing my A1 test (up to 125cc only) in February 2013 at 17, my A2 test in April 2015 at 19 and eventually my unrestricted A licence in April 2017 at 21. I was supposed to pass under the old rules that allowed automatic upgrading after 2 years but on the 16th January (3 days before the rules changed), I was sat in the test centre in Burton-on-Trent waiting to see if they would allow me to go out in the ice/snow/sludge. If you hadn’t already guessed, they didn’t let me go and cancelled my test.
Not that any of that ever deterred me, before I’d even passed my test, I’d been to various places in the UK on the back of a motorbike, been to Spain, been to France a couple of times and also a big European trip covering 7 countries in 15 days including getting all the way down to Croatia. So, I’d long since had the bug for getting out on 2 wheels.
Once I’d finally passed my test and let loose on a Yamaha YBR125, in the May half term, whilst studying for my A-levels, me and my dad decided to do our version of the 3 Peaks Challenge. Over 6 days, we rode the 1100 miles between Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon and climbed all 3 of the mountains as well. We were not mountaineers, had never climbed more than a big hill and definitely weren’t that prepared! For example, nobody mentioned that there would be snow in May at the top of Ben Nevis but we turned a corner and there it was a good couple of metres deep at the top. That trip also garnered me my 2nd ever experience of riding on a motorway on a day where it was absolutely bucketing down and the wind was buffeting us in every direction, it was harrowing to say the least.
I also did a track day at Cadwell Park on that little 125 on a Better Rider Training day and it was entertaining to see 125s catch up with some powerful bikes around all the corners, only to get left in the dust when we couldn’t get much above 75-80mph on the straight!
Since getting my full licence, the UK trips haven’t stopped but I also finally ventured out on my own and did some solo trips. The first was only a day trip whilst in Vietnam on a rented 125cc scooter along the Hai Van Pass and back but the Vietnamese idea of a highway code is not like ours back home and learning how to cross the road was not something I thought I’d have to bother with at 21!
My favourite trip, however, was my 2 week solo trip around Ireland taking in the Wild Atlantic Way. It was all a bit last minute and I booked my ferries 6 days before I left and planned my routes in that week before setting off. Before leaving, I had sorted out 1 night of accommodation in Ireland and a stay in Wales the night before the ferry as I didn’t fancy the 3am wake up to get there the morning of.
I now ride a BMW F800R and love it. I’m also trying to book some more trips as there’s nothing better than a bit of cake in a café spotted along the way, or found on Google by a lake somewhere.
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