Before my Training
Story by Bad Boy Wannabe Biker – Faizel
Own a bike – and you own the freedom of the open road, own the right to be called a rebel and you have the ability to easily scare old people, little children and drivers with their windows opened. It is with this in mind that I set out to fulfill my dream of ownership of a bike. Perhaps it’s midlife crisis setting in (I can’t afford the Ferrari), perhaps I am clutching on to my bad boy image of yesteryear, or perhaps it is to distract people from my ever receding hairline. “You are going bald” they will say and all I will hear is “You own a really nice bike”. The helmet also provides good cover for the hairline, you have to agree.
Having never ridden a bike and not knowing too many bike owners, the whole process of learning to ride and purchasing your first bike is a somewhat daunting task. Speaking to people gives you mixed opinions – “ My first bike was an R1 and I learnt to ride all by myself”, “My first bike is a CBR 1000 and all you have to do is control the throttle”, “You should definitely go small, maybe a 125cc” are all comments I got from people I chatted to that owned bikes. My over protective family’s constant mention of the word coffin didn’t help matters much either. Then there is the choice available – from Aprillia to Zongshen and all of them have a number of models for varying needs. There are bikes for delivery, high schoolers, touring, commuting, off road, dual purpose, super sport superbikes and cruisers, all in different guises with different types of performance. Freedom of choice is supposed to be a good thing.
So, like I normally do things, I went about it the absolute wrong way – figuring out what bike I want to own before I even sat on one. I trolled Google, Gumtree, Bikefind and any other site that I could for finding a bike to buy and in the process stumbled upon some interesting bike sites. Experienced riders on the sites were more than happy sharing experiences and giving out advice. This made things even more confusing but a few themes were common. I needed training before doing anything. I need the correct gear if I want to go on a bike.
I kept visiting bike shops and reading to try to learn more until on one cloudy and overcast Saturday afternoon something spectacular happened (No, I didn’t learn to control the throttle of a CBR 1000). I visited a bike shop in Umhlanga and he handed me a copy of Bike Talk magazine. “Speak to Hein for training, he will sort you out.” I called Hein that afternoon, and the good news is that all I need for the training is a helmet and gloves. Oh happy days.
Now if you thought making the choice of which bike you want is difficult, don’t even get me started on the kit. Helmets range from R500 to R12 000 and gloves from R300 to R5000 and you pretty much have that sort of price range for every piece of kit you require for biking. Google was called upon again to help me make the decision and I started buying bike magazines to learn more about the South African bike market. As I had not ridden before, I was unsure if I would like it. There are things that you really really want to do deep inside, but when you try it you might not like it all – skinny dipping in winter for example. As such I wasn’t keen on splashing out on the top of the range Shoei helmet only to realise that biking really isn’t for me. So I decided to purchase a reasonably priced helmet that ticked all of the safety boxes and ditto for the gloves. The course was immediately booked and I had to confirm with Hein that jeans and a leather jacket would suffice for the course. Confirmed.
The next three weeks were wait, wait and wait with me reading as much as I could on riding and still looking for my bike. I walked around the house with my helmet and gloves making sure I am used to my kit, much to the dismay of my better half. I think that she was more annoyed by me making motorcycle noises while using the kit. Using a helmet takes a bit of getting used to and I have realised that trying to do any intricate tasks with the gloves on are impossible.
The week of my training finally arrives and only my nervousness outweighs my excitement. Three days to go and my BBM status is updated to say the same, two days to go and the BBM status now includes a picture of a CBR 600. I check the weather forecast the day before the training and utter expletives – 30% chance of rain. I wake early on the morning of the training and Durban is dull, dreary and gloomy. Hein sends a message that he will train until it rains out. “Good man”, I say to myself.
A few drops of rain appear on windscreen as I am driving to the venue which I promptly scoff at. I feel the anxiousness and nervousness building up as I get closer to the venue. I finally arrive at the Toti Civic Centre. Let the training begin…