Learning to Ride

4 Day DAS Course with BMW Rider Training South

Scott, BMW Motorrad UK's digital marketing assistant, embarks upon his journey to get his A2 motorcycle licence. Read his blog entry to see how he got on and find out what's in store for you after you've booked your test.

Day One - Back to Basics.

Day One - Back to Basics.

Upon arrival to the BMW Rider Training School at 8:15am, I was introduced to the rider training staff who I had not yet met whilst doing my CBT+ course in March, along with Rukmeeni who was also learning to ride. I was happy to learn that Julie would be training me for my 4 day DAS course as I received one-to-one training from her whilst completing my CBT+ course. 

After kitting up at 8:30am, I was straight on the A2 restricted F 700 GS for a short ride over to their private onsite training paddock. Julie felt comfortable allowing me to ride the bigger bike from the offset as I passed my CBT using a BMW G 650 GS. 

Once we were in the training paddock, we practiced the manoeuvres that would be required for the Mod One Motorcycle test. Fortunately, I had experience with them already as my CBT+ course also began with learning these basic manoeuvres. These included: safely moving the bike when you are not on it, a U-turn, and a cone slalom which finished with a number of figure of eights. 

After successfully completing the circuit, we moved off into another part of the training facility where we practiced indicating safely, emergency stops and swerving to avoid a hazard at roughly 50 km/h. 

Once Julie felt comfortable with our skills, we were then on to the fun part of the day- road riding! The scenic roads around Royston are a great place to get familiar with riding. After riding through Cambridgeshire for an hour, we stopped for lunch at 'Frankie's Snack Bar', a favourite amongst the rider training team due to its location and value for money. I ordered a full portion of chips and it was absolutely enormous! After a much needed refuel, we headed to the test centre. Here, we were allowed to practice the manoeuvres on the test centre circuit along with completing a mock test with Julie's guidance. We also practiced both layouts of the test- a right side layout and a left side layout. 

After we had both practiced at least one mock test, we left the test centre and continued to ride around Cambridgeshire for an hour, before heading back to Royston to finish our first day of riding!

 

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Day Two - Mod One Test.

Day Two - Mod One Test.

Day two saw another early start and I found myself back at the training school for 8:15am feeling rather tired. I'd definitely recommend getting there on time so you are able to grab a tea or a coffee before you start your day of training- the tea on day two definitely gave me a pick me up!

As this was the Mod One test day, all of our training in the morning was focused on passing this test. We practiced all of the manoeuvres that would be tested, along with making sure that we were carrying out blind spots and mirror checks each time before moving. Missing a blindspot check before moving is enough to fail your Mod One test!

When we felt comfortable with what we would be expected to do, we made our way to the Café in Cambridgeshire for a light snack and energy boost before our 11am test slot. 

We arrived at the test centre in good time and sat in the waiting room for the examiner to decide which one of us would be facing the music first. Both Rukmeeni and I felt nervous for this test as failing this would mean that we would not be able to take the Mod Two test on the Friday. 

Rukmeeni was called first which left me anxiously waiting in the centre for 15 minutes. Fortunately, she came back and had passed the test with a single minor- this should have reassured me, yet it only added more pressure!

I was then called for my test. I made sure that I listened to Julie's advice about taking deep breaths before moving to calm my nerves and gather my thoughts. This was incredibly useful as it made sure that I was making all of the necessary safety checks. 

After completing the test, I was taken back into the waiting room where I then heard the great news that I also passed the test with a single minor! 

We then made our way back to the Café and stopped off for a hearty lunch and a chat about the upcoming Mod Two test on Friday. The rest of the day was spent riding around Cambridgeshire and then we made our way back to the training school.

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Day Three - Food Tour and Practice.

Day Three - Food Tour and Practice.

Arrival at the training school on the third day was far more relaxed when compared to the previous test day. I knew that the plan for the day was to polish up our road riding and make sure that we weren't making any mistakes that would be deemed as a major in the Mod Two test. 

Julie let us know in the morning that our Mod Two test would be held at the Kettering test centre which is over an hour away from Royston. As a result, the third day would be spent riding to Kettering and familiarising ourselves with some of the test routes that Julie knew. 

We left the test centre as soon as we were geared up and started the long ride to Kettering. Five minutes into the journey the heavens opened. This was my first ever experience riding in the rain and it's safe to say that it's nowhere near as enjoyable as when the weather is good! 

We took the A1M to Bedford which is where we stopped to have a quick break and escape the torrential rain. Julie knew a brilliant café 'Danish Camp' and I took the opportunity to sample their vanilla latté and millionaire shortbread. Both were great and the view wasn't too bad either (see gallery). 

After a much needed sugar boost and break from the rain, we set off to Kettering. Upon arrival, we familiarised ourselves with the area close to the centre and then set off on a number of key routes that included multiple lane roundabouts and short stints on the A14 dual carriageway. 

An hour later, we found ourselves in 'The Old Forge Tea Room' for some lunch. The food offering was great and I decided to go for a chicken tikka masala which didn't disappoint!

After lunch and another quick ride around Kettering, we started the journey back to Royston. On the way back Julie planned a stop at Grafham Waters, a scenic county park in Cambridgeshire. Thankfully, the sun made its first appearance of the day!

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Day Four - Mod Two Test.

Day Four - Mod Two Test.

We learned from the previous day that our test slot at Kettering was 10am. As we knew how long it took to travel to test centre, both Rukmeeni and I planned to set off early from home in order to make it to Royston early. 

As soon as we were ready, we started the long journey to Kettering. We arrived at 9:50am due to traffic, meaning that we only had 10 minutes until one of us would be tested. 

My name was called first, which in hindsight was a good thing, as it meant that I had no time for nerves to take over in the waiting room. 

I walked over to my bike with the examiner and he asked me two questions about the bike and one question about carrying a pillion, both of which I had revised from the night before. After answering the questions, it now meant that the 40 minute riding element of the test could begin. 

I remembered the key learnings from the previous days of training and felt like I performed well in the first 25 minutes of the test. The independent riding aspect of the test started and I was instructed to follow signs to a number of different places. Fortunately, the places were clearly signed, meaning I could get signal and get into position well in advance of roundabouts etc. After 10 minutes, the examiner then took over and directed me back to the test centre. When I switched off my bike, he told me over the radio that I had passed. I was over the moon and could not wait to tell my friends and family. 

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The Overall Experience

My experience with BMW Rider Training was absolutely fantastic and I could not recommend them enough. The facilities and location of the test centre are brilliant and it makes learning to ride a bike extremely fun! The instructing is phenomenal and at no point did I feel out of my comfort zone- Julie was always there to give advice and improve my riding where it was needed. This experience has given me the motivation to get a bike far quicker than I thought. Although I still have a year left of university to get through, I aim to save as much as I can and have a bike by the end of the year. 

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