I’ve had a brilliant day and I couldn’t be more grateful to Sir Bruin and Liz, the Small Bear. Sir B took me for a ride on his motorbike down the dual carriageway, so that I could discover whether this was fun or something to be scared of, we stopped at the seaside by the beach huts and then returned to a bike showroom for me to sit on a few bikes and find the sort of thing I might like.
I loved every minute of it. I clung on a bit (not to him, to the bike) on the way, especially when we went over bumps, and I thought about the vulnerability, how little protection one would have in the event of anything going wrong – because I needed to consider whether I really want to go ahead with this scheme or whether I will be too timorous or unsure of myself. But it didn’t make me afraid so much as conscious that I would have to be very aware, read the road, look for what other drivers might be about to do and whether they had seen me. I think it makes one a better car driver, in fact, if one is also a cyclist or motor cyclist because one sees things from a different perspective and is more safety-conscious, or so I found after I started cycling (though I hope I wasn’t discourteous in this regard beforehand). On the way back, I simply enjoyed the fun of the ride.
When I sat on my friend’s bike the other day, I was disconcerted by it being slightly too big for me. I could only just get my toes down and it was too heavy and I really doubted that I’d be able to get used to it. However, the ones Sir B suggested for me to sit on were fine and I felt much steadier. I also tried sitting on a scooter, but I preferred the bike – I felt more secure astride, with a foot ready to be put down if I had to stop. He showed me the clothes I’d be likely to buy – and their cost (there’s always eBay) – and I’m getting quite excited. The salesman, by the way, said that there is an increasing demand for smaller motorbikes: that is, bikes for smaller people. He looked quite unperturbed by the thought of me learning, I didn’t detect a hint of a smirk.
When we got back to the house, Liz had a delicious lamb tagine all ready. We had, before we left, tested her gorgeous chocolate cake and we had more for pudding. It’s a Nigella recipe, she said, and includes olive oil and ground almonds. I am afraid I stayed ages, they were obliged to devote most of their Saturday to me, and I had a wonderful time.
I’ll be cautious, I always am, though I’m not without my audacious moments. Today has convinced me that I’d like to go on to the next stage, which is the Compulsory Bike Training, which takes you through the preliminaries and trains you to get a licence to ride on the road. Once I’ve done that (assuming that I haven’t discovered that it’s really beyond me, for whatever reason), I shall get a bike and some more practice before taking the next test for my full licence. I hope this works out, I’m really looking forward to it.