I’ve written learners tests twice in my life prior to Tuesday the 23rd of October 2018, and on my third try I failed. I failed at something I took as an easy test, I guess the theory is not as easy as I thought, but then again in life, nothing ever is… Which means getting into riding isn’t as easy as I’d wished it to be, so getting advice and lessons on moving forward, like anything else in life, can turn out to be nothing but a benefit in my favour. First piece of advice from me, get the K53 app on your phone, and book for your motorcycle learner’s online at www.natis.gov.za . As I’ve said before, I’m taking my friend Marvin on this journey with me, and there is nothing I want more than to get him started on his biking journey, than doing it the right way. After passing the learner’s the next best thing is to get Marvin riding, and this is Marvin, so we can’t have him on just any kind of motorcycle.
Luckily for us, Marvin was invited by BMW to attend their Novice training course (basic riding course), at the official BMW Rider Academy which is based at Zwartkops raceway. You can choose to go through your basic riding experience in one of two ways: you can go in for a one on one session with BMW or a group experience like the one to which I was invited. Now how could I let my friend Marvin say no to a BMW experience, if anything I had to go to this course because I promised I would take Marvin with me on this journey of becoming a biker. In any case, ke rata dilo (I’m a liker of good things), who am I to miss out on a BMW filled day?
The BMW experience includes being introduced to Qualified BMW Motorrad instructors who would be taking us through the basics of riding from both a theoretical and practical format. The training is about getting a beginner to feel comfortable on the motorcycle, learn how to operate the machine correctly and all, whilst keeping you excited and well fed. So it’s a jam packed day at a racetrack, let’s be honest, ke rata dilo!
On the day, walking into BMW’s riding academy, you are received by their reception, a beautiful track and a lovely soul in their reception lady. You are then directed to the training hall upstairs where you will come to realise, with a short intro to the training instructors, your training starts from the moment you walk in. Even before a briefing, already in conversation, the instructors take it upon themselves to be both friendly and inquisitive as if to say, “I know a lot about bikes, but maybe we could teach each other something”. To be honest, being an entrepreneur fulltime, my mind went to fight mode (I know this) with a piece of Ego when the theoretical part of the day started, but little did I know, setting your Ego aside for a second, will allow you to take in an experience where even as an experienced rider you could learn a basic trick that you’ve skipped by going straight into “pro” riding. Even a lifesaving basic trick could be learnt.
Once the theory part of your morning is over, it’s time to hit the bikes and get to knowing the basics of the controls and balancing on your bike. I will say, ladies are better at listening then men, which allows women to listen to instructors and do as told step by step, but men on the other hand are hard headed which means we will learn our lessons, even if it means slightly coming off to learn said lesson. However, with this being a controlled environment you learn it is okay to come off the bike at slow speeds and getting back on, just builds more confidence in you. That is also another great part of being in a larger group when training; your fellow trainees quickly become friends and push each other further into a realm of confidence than many would not achieve alone.
“Foooooood, glorious fooooooood!” that was the sound of my inner voice by lunch time. Yes they offer breakfast and lunch with an assortment of snacks at the BMW rider academy training courses, as a part of the day’s activities. The food is glorious, if I must say so myself. See, as a novice rider, you come to realise that you are actually tired. Yes you still love the motions set in your mind by the bike, but the lessons you are learning a new, and the food is great, also the tongue play in your mouth and great conversation with new friends allows you to simmer over the feeling of how, you are falling in love with the riding.
Only the biker knows how a dog feels, when it sticks its head out of a window. As soon as the second half of the day commences, you grow more in love with your bike, controls and the confidence you feel. The BMW instructors take you out on the track to have you feel the real power of a bike, then throw you back on the 310cc and have you wishing deep down you could have that adrenaline run throughout your body again, but this time with you in control. The road ahead and this machine in between your legs, equate to a fun second half of the day, and you quickly run through the last activities of the day. Running in between cones and even a few laps around a miniature oval track help you end off your day with a smile on your face. At the end of the day, BMW gives you a certificate for the basic course and a feeling of the need to ride in your heart. I say take that feeling and grow it, because riding is really a way of life.
P.S. Fellas, if you’re taking your lady on a basic riding course, be sure to reassure her, because us men, if we come off, get scraped or a little pain, we get back on quite easily.However, for our female counterparts it is not quite the same, she may need reassurance/confidence building, but the end result of the right kind of confidence building can be an amazing female rider.
Writer: Maele Mothiba