At 0920hrs this morning the car park at PC World where the IAM meets to leave at 0930hrs sharp (it says on the Website) for the second-Sunday-of-the-month bike ride looked like the image on the right.
Yes, that's my bike. On its own.
At 0920hrs this morning I was not desperately happy. However soon afterwards 3 other stalwarts hoved into view and all was not lost.
In fact, since one of the three was a senior observer, what was decided was that I would have my mock test there and then. So in the car park before we set off I performed slow manoeuvres, starting with a u-turn within the width of 3 bays. Did you know that car parking bays are generally 2.5m wide, and a standard road is 7.3m wide? Did you? So three bays wide is about the width of an average road. I also performed a figure of eight or two. Exciting stuff.
I then led off from the car park down and across the river, to Rutherglen, up to East Kilbride and stopped at Strathaven. This covered some city roads, dual carriageways, and country roads, at varying speed limits between 30mph and 70mph. It was a mock test, but it wasn't really a case of "you've passed" or "you've failed" it was just so a senior observer could double check that the observer who says I'm ready for my test is correct. And he was. And I am. So I shall send away the paperwork requesting a date for my real test as soon as possible.
So, that obstacle overcome, we changed back to fun mode, and set off again, this time with me in position 3 of 4 and someone else leading down country roads into deepest darkest Ayrshire. We stopped off at a Little Chef (how long is it since you've been in one of them, eh?) for coffee and a snack, and set off again down roads I've never been on, which was refreshing.
Down via Patna, Dalmellington, Corsock, Crocketford (some of which I've never even heard of!) to Dumfries where we stopped for a toastie and a cup of tea. The image on the right is of my colleagues relaxing at the riverside after we'd eaten.
So we set off again northbound, over yet more roads unfamiliar to me.
Up the A76 through Thornhill, then turning right onto the A702 which was a most interesting twisty moorland road. We then found ourselves on the old A74, which has been superceded by the new A74 but you can still go on the original road, once dubbed the "killer A74" in the shitey moaning faced Scottish rag the Daily Record, or the Daily Ranger as it's known in some circles.
So, back home again about half past five. Tired, yet pleased and happy. The image on the left shows the route. Roughly 210 miles of town; city; twisty; country; fast; slow; motorway; straight; interesting roads.
I'm off for a nice hot bath now, perhaps with a small glass of something to congratulate myself on getting another step towards being an advanced rider.