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You are in: Gloucestershire > People > Your Stories > Learning to ride

View of Chris in his motorbike's mirror

Learning to ride

Would you swap your four wheels for two? BBC Gloucestershire's Chris Sandys has taken the journey to become a fully fledged motorcycle rider. Share his experience here.

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If you missed the reasons for this journey of mine or you want to hear the whole learning process explained, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click 'Next'.

"Six months back this was all just a dream. Now though, having spent about £4,000 in total, I'm a fully-fledged rider."

Chris Sandys

Step Four: The Test

After a good four days of training, I was not actually that nervous about the test...well, less so than instructor Marc who'd failed to mention that he has not yet had a candidate fail a test in Gloucester!

After meeting the examiner at the DSA test centre in Quedgeley, I was kitted up with a radio ear piece, given a few instructions and then taken outside where I was asked a couple of questions about motorbike maintenance.

Then we were off!

The examiner followed behind in a car whilst giving directions through the ear piece in my helmet (just the same technique as used throughout my training).

The time flew and in about 40 minutes of riding the examiner assessed how competent I was on a variety of roads, various junctions and with the U-turn element and controlled stop.

Once back at the test centre I was asked a question about carrying a pillion before being told whether I'd passed or not.

Chris Sandys sat astride his new motorbike

Chris with his new bike


It's with great pleasure that I can tell you that I passed!

A few texts and a phone call later, instructor Marc and I rode back to the training facility for a much-needed cup of tea and a sit down.

I'd bought a second-hand 600cc motorbike in preparation for this day and it had been stored away, out of reach, while I was doing my training.

Now though it was all mine - the joy of ownership only tainted slightly by the fuel light flashing at me!

However, even that didn't spoil the party as I filled up at the nearest petrol station with a full tank costing only £11. Marvellous.

Chris Sandys wearing his helmet

Fully-fledged rider

I then rode my new bike home, put it away, had a late lunch and went to bed...shattered!

Rather sensibly (I thought) I didn't get the bike out again till the next day once the initial jubilation had passed and I'd let my head rest with a good night sleep.

There was no stopping me the next day though, with the sun shining and my wife at work, I was free to indulge my new passion...although as my brother pointed out (also a biker), he'd rather I spend more time riding it than cleaning it.

Six months back this was all just a dream. Now though, having spent about £4,000 in total (including the cost of my second hand motorbike, all the kit/clothing to go with it and the full span of training), I'm a fully-fledged rider.

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Now to enjoy it!

Click 'Next' below to read how Chris got on with his Direct Access training

last updated: 26/02/2009 at 14:54
created: 01/12/2008

Have Your Say

IS Gloucestershire a great county for owning a motorbike? What advice can you offer Chris as a new rider?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Been riding every day, all weather for over 20 years. Glos is ok but if you get the chance go to France,Spain,Italy etc.The roads & scenery are amazing & you wont be treated like a second class citizen.

Paul Aird
Gloucestershire is a perfect county for motorcycling.I'm an Instructor with Acer Motorcycle Training in Quedgeley,the only advice I can give you is just plain and simple, always have and Good Observations,Forward Planing and Expect the Unexpected,but most of all have fun and enjoy your riding.

Martin Hammett
I've been a car driver for over twenty years and thought I knew the road pretty well. My CBT day with Westside was a revelation in terms of understanding the road from the position of a motorcyclist. The course is well designed to highlight any potential pitfalls and for youngsters who have only ever experienced being a passenger, this is vital to help keep them safe.

That looks like Laurence from Westside riders down morelands trading estate in those pictures. You choose well there Chris. I passed with them in October. Top people. Good luck with your full test.

Steve Guest
Gloucestershire is the greatest County in the World for Motorcycling, we have trained almost 5,000 new riders in Gloucestershire at Acer Motorcycle training which is based in Quedgeley. Mike Tindall passed his Direct Access with us and now the UK's no.1 road racer Moto GP record breaker Scott Redding has just done his CBT with us. Fingers crossed Gloucestershire may one day be famous for having the greatest motorcycle racer ever.

Once you've passed, think about hunting down a "bikesafe" course run by the Police/ Glos Road Safety - very informative and there's an opportunity to be learn from Police riders: then, if you take to it - the Severn Advanced Motorcyclists meet in Barnwood monthly for social evenings and have regular group rides, a lovely bunch of people and you learn to improve your skills as well!

Duke Theedam
I've been 40 years in the 'saddle' doesn't matter where you start, only that you do...I think it should be compulsory training for any road user...especially before you jump in a 'car'...

nan shaw
Start on 3 wheels if possible!If you are used to riding a bicycle, it may be difficult to get used to using the throttle to get moving rather than pushing yourself off from a starting start- the m/cycle will fall over (it did with me).My father and brother ran at the side of me until the penny dropped and by then they had run at least 1 mile.After learning to ride my father's m/cycle, a 600cc Norton combination I bought a BSA 250cc C11 and rode it up and down the country in all weather conditions and long before it was mandatory to wear protective clothing. I passed my driving test first time; having to work my way through a crowd of people going to a Test Match at Headingley. I used to belong to a motor-cycling club and learnt much from other members (all men, I was the only female rider) and being female,I received much help if there was any mechanical failure.Fortunately, that only happened once; a shortage of petrol over the Yorkshire Fells! The men towed me to the next garage by fastening their belts together.After riding through all kinds of northern weather, I can certainly recommend riding a m/cycle through Gloucestershire and beyond.

John Kennedy
Brought up in the Forest of Dean and now living in Wiltshire. I got my first set of powered wheels in 1965, Lambretta TV 175 from Eric Webb, Central Garage, Lydbrook. I have rarely been without two wheels since and thoroughly recommend it! Since passing my test I have fallen off once, just before the 40th anniversary of passing the test. Advice, ride like a coward, remember most other things on the road are bigger and harder than you, give way even when you are right. Do not stint on riding gear, you will ride better if you are comfortable. NEVER ride in T shirt and shorts. Remember all the things that have annoyed you about motorcyclists in the past and say, "I am not going to do that." Be warned, it could become an obsession! I ended up doing an End to End run with my son, he rode a solo and I rode a combination. Now that's something to try, three wheels instead of two. I return to the Forest each year, usually with friends in a motorcycle club I belong to. If you see a convoy of Czech Jawas, one with a sidecar, say hello.

James Hanson
Hi Ali. Sorry to hear that, I must admit I probably didn't explain myself enough, not every officer is pro-bike, there are a few still out there, coming from a county next door to derbyshire, where the biker is very much the enemy, its completely different here. I had a chat with an on duty cop who couldnt have been more different to what you describe. I do think that you have to judge each case on its merits. I agree though, I've only been here a few months so there is plenty of time for my opinions to change!

Ali B
Hi James. I just had to respond to your comment about our police force here in Gloucester being pro-bike. I have lived here all my life and I have ridden motorbikes for nearly thirty of them and I am yet to meet a police officer who is pro-bike on duty. I had an accident three years ago and the police could not get me of the road quick enough cos I was holding up the car drivers and to add insult to injury they never prosecuted the driver because as a motorcyclist I was not in the list of criteria to match a prosecution. When you have lived here a while longer you will begin to see the truth. I have not met a biker yet who has a good word for a member of our police force. Sorry James

James Hanson
Having recently moved her from the East Midlands, this is a fantastic county for biking, the police are pro bike aswell, which is always good! I need to get my SV650s down here to get on the roads as its still at my parents house! Good Luck Chris, may I wish you many happy years motorcycling, it really is a great family to be in. James, Cheltenham.

Graham Wright
Good luck Chris. I've been riding powered two wheelers since the age of 16 - over 33 years. Once you get through all the required training and licensing and have gained a little more experience, consider following this up by joining Severn Advanced Motorcyclists and taking your IAM test (or any enhanced motorcycle training/test). Happy motorcycling - there are some wonderful roads out there! Graham

Duane Phillips
I ride my PanEuropean to work and back every day, all year! Gloucestershire is great for bikers. There are some great roads through the countryside. It can be a bit dodgy during the winter, but the summer rides make up for that. I have been riding motorcycles now for just over 4 years and I have loved every minute of it.

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