It's been a week, and that's too long. I should Blog more regularly, like I used to do, but to be honest I mostly haven't found the time, and when I've found the time I haven't had the inclination!
So, what's been happening in the past week? Well, obviously the bike's running again, and I mentioned that last Saturday I went on a trip via Cumbria where I briefly investigated Farlam and Talkin where I have some ancestry. The photos are of the church in Farlam where I have a fair few ancestors buried, and a viewpoint overlooking Talkin Tarn, which is apparently a glacial lake near Talkin and Farlam.
I had the pleasure on Wednesday of attending my second Institute of Advanced Motorists meeting where I had another observed ride, this time through the south side of Glasgow past Hampden football park and Castlemilk, out via East Kilbride to Strathaven, then down through Stonehouse and ending up at The Popinjay Hotel at Rosebank in Lanarkshire for coffee and sandwiches.
It was a different observer this time, and he didn't mark me on everything the first person did, concentrating only on what he noticed. Last time I was marked on 18 different skills, this time only on 6:
A - Slow manoeuvering (a slow U-turn in a car park)
A - Braking (speaks for itself)
A - Safety position (to the far right of the lane when approaching a left bend, and vice-versa)
A - Rear observations (he didn't give me directions, I had to work out where to turn by watching his indicators as he followed me)
A - Overtaking (completed safely, quickly and correctly)
B - Speed (marked down again simply because I kept creeping a bit above 30mph)
As I mentioned previously, the marking criteria are:
A = Test Standard
B = Good
C = Fair
D = Requires Improvement
He didn't mark me on any of the other skills, but did say that there was no problem with anything he saw. I will apparently be ready for my test in a couple of weeks, but when I told him that that night was unfortunately going to be my last time until next year (the biking season runs from April until October, but next week I am starting my advanced car training and it's also on a Wednesday so I will miss the last few weeks of biking) his response was to arrange for another observer to agree to go out on a couple of one-to-one sessions with me on another night rather than Wednesdays and to arrange for me to have a mock test with a senior observer soon, and so I can sit my test this year after all, which I really didn't expect. How good of them is that? Fantastic!
So that was Wednesday. Today I discovered that pride comes before a fall.
I was checking a lock-up garage for which I have keys and which belongs to my brother who lives abroad (just making sure it was still standing with a roof on, and hadn't been broken into - if my brother's reading this, it's fine!) and I had parked the bike just outside the parking area surrounding the lock-ups. It's on a bit of a slope both along and across the road (if that makes sense) so the bike was on its side-stand facing down hill and the road also sloped down from right to left. Having checked the lock-up I walked back to the road, made a phone call, started the bike and made to move away. Unfortunately the road has a lot of loose gravel lying around, and as I was about to move away my left foot slipped on the gravel and the bike overbalanced.
In the first post where I mentioned the bike I pointed out that it weighs 282kg, or 621lb or over 44 stones.
In various other posts I have mentioned that I have an injured left leg for which I am still receiving physiotherapy and the calf of which is still noticeably smaller and therefore weaker than my right leg.
There is NO WAY I was ever going to stop the bike hitting the deck, so I bailed out and didn't really even try, just concentrating on my left leg not being under it when it hit the ground. It popped the wing mirror off (it clipped back in again without any apparent damage) and although I only noticed it when I got home, it cracked the left hand pannier. Now that's a potential problem. Clearly the panniers are only of use when touring if when you get to your destination the contents (i.e. your clothes) are dry. I need to find out if it's possible to somehow seal the crack on the inside so that it's waterproof and doesn't show from the outside. Failing that, I've just looked and replacements cost £290 a pair. Bollocks. I'll keep my eye on eBay anyway.
One good thing is that as all of this happened it was seen by someone who lives in the flats nearby and he came over and helped me lift the bike, which was exceptionally kind of him but goes to show that bikers stick together because it turns out he's got one too. It also turns out we've met before (I used to live in the same flats a number of years ago) and he knows my brother and his wife. He's a nice guy (I thought that even before he helped me pick the bike off the floor today) and we swapped mobile numbers when he suggested it so that I can put him in touch with my brother again.
So next week I embark on the training for advanced car driving. I think it's about 5 weeks in a classroom, then an assessed drive, then however many one-to-one sessions of instruction as are necessary to pass the test. I'm looking forward to it all.
All of this will lead to not only a certain smug satisfaction that I can drive a car and ride a motorcycle to a safe, high standard, but hopefully will lead to smaller insurance premiums!