It was a long haul to get myself and my bike on the road (additionally complicated by the fact that the bike was registered in a different country). But I took it step by step and achieved my goal. The most difficult part was scheduling the training for my full bike license into a busy and unpredictable work timetable, the training itself (it turned out that my instructor and i were not compatible) and passing the road exam (it took me 2 takes).
It helped that I already owned a small bike and was able to ride it with an L plate, but unfortunately I picked up some bad habits. I managed to schedule training in with one of training schools in Norwich, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. I soon dreaded the lessons and would often end up upset during or after my training. My instructor was rough with me, often raised his voice, was judgemental, impatient and expected me to follow orders. His wife or partner who also helped in the training was extremely rude, probably the rudest and most insensitive person I’ve ever met. But I passed the maneuvers test flying. In the end, shortly before my exam I gave up and cut my training short. It was a waste of time, I wasn’t learning anything, and my confidence was badly undermined. My instructor didn’t offer me a refund on the hours he didn’t work and he refused to come to my exam with me (common practice). He also said that I would be better off cancelling the exam (bad advice: there was no refund of rescheduling of the exam at such short notice and the experience of the exam could be useful). I went ahead with the road test anyway and of course failed it with 1 serious and 4 minor errors. (if I remember correctly, 5 minor errors are a fail, any serious error is also a fail). But just before my exam I met an instructor from a different biking school. She was accompanying her student at their test. I had a quick chat with her and instantly knew that if i failed my test, I would get in touch with her for topup training. Which I did. The school she works for is called Top Notch Training (http://www.topnotchtraining.co.uk/). She turned out to be an absolute angel and a highly talented teacher. One of these people who do their job so well that they really make a difference in the world. She is patient, non-judgemental and uses encouraging, confidence-building and methodical approach, a fail-proof system. She made time for me because I requested to be trained by her in particular. I used the school’s bike (Yamaha YBR 125), which was a lot better than the previous instructor’s (little flimsy Chinese 125, I don’t remember the make), even though this school was a good deal cheaper. The bike had a big flashing bulb installed in the middle to remind me to switch off my indicator:) A few hours with her and I passed my road test beautifully, with just one vaguish minor mistake. This whole training and testing experience was an ordeal and an emotional trial. I’m very grateful to this instructor (forgot her name!) for helping me out with such skill and heart.
I’m now back to ireland and I keep riding. One day soon, when I can afford a bigger bike, I hope to add some longer distance travel goals to my 43 things list:)