Cam Rider - Norwich
Taken from GB Bikers Web Site June 2009
An unsolicited review written in the customers own words:
Robert Woods writes.....
Hi, I originally found my way onto this forum whilst looking for anyone that had used camrider norwich as their training school as i was about to sign up for a 5 day intensive direct access course. As i couldnt find one, i thought i would write one myself!
So here is my story, from zero to hero in 5 days with Camrider Norwich...
Ill tell you a little about myself to add some context to this review, I am 35 years old and rode various motorcycles from the age 14 up to 21, so although i wasnt new to biking it had certainly been a few years out of the saddle, not having riden since passing my driving test.
The course i signed up for was a 5 day course, starting with the CBT on sunday and culminating with the part 2 test on Friday. I called and booked over the phone with a very short list of dates i could do as getting time off work had to be considered, I spoke to a helpful guy called Chris who booked the days i had available without any problems, However, he did point out that they advise leaving a gap of 3-5 days between the module one and module 2 tests as a fail on module 1 would mean a forfeit of module 2 with no refund on the fee (around £100 i think he said), I was feeling brave and would struggle to get time off so i took the plunge and went for it anyway (nothing to do with confidence!). I was qutoed the price of £578 including £10 per day damage waiver. I had to refer to an internet offer to get this price so its worth checking on there for current offers
The price also included clothing/helmet if required, but my next trip was to Hein Gerick Norwich to buy trousers jacket boots and gloves, the costs already starting to mount up! (incidently i was served by an extremely helpful young lady who could tell i was a bit bewildered by the choice of clothing on offer and she spent a good hour helping kit me out, just what a novice needed!)
I arrived for my CBT at 8.30 on a miserable sunday morning and made my way into the offices where i met Martin, my CBT instuctor for the morning, and the 3 other candidates. Firstly we had a chat about experience etc. and i turned out that 2 of the guys were currently riding, a young lady with no experience going for her moped CBT and myself.
We went through a basic safety lecture and then took a short car journey to a car park just round the corner, 3 bikes and one moped all dutifully lined up waiting for us.
CBT followed, some slow riding around the car park and some basic stoppping and starting drills, nothing too taxing but was good to find that i could still ride a bike!
We then split into 2 groups, both the current riders heading off with Martin, leaving the young girl and myself to meet Mark, our CBT examiner and my instructor fir the remainder of the course. A road ride followed with more basic drills, U turns and emergency stops, Mark was already pointing out things related to my direct access course even at this stage which i found very useful. As the afternnon progressed the heavens opened and i git to test my new gear out (HG Travel jacket was great, totally waterproof but the trousers leaked around my almond) and we spent around 2 hours on the road, then headed back to base. We all did well, and i was finding Mark to be very amiable so Monday morning beckoned.
Direct Access Course Monday and Tuesday
I was supposed to be on a 125 for the first day of the course but Mark was apparantly impressed at my riding on the CBT, so suggested we move directly on to the ER 500. I was a bit nervous as the size of the thing compared to the 125 was a bit daunting, especially with a cast iron "roll cage" welded on to it!
So off we went, the nerves soon vanishing as i found the bike much easier to ride than the 125, It felt more stable and required a lot less effort and gear changing, friends had told me this be the case but i was still dubious!
So off we went riding round the highways and byways of norwich, stopping regularly for breaks long enough for me to have a smoke and take a breather, Lots of road work and stops to practice slow riding stuff for the Module 1 test on wednesday. I found the road work to be fine, after driving for the last 8 years i felt totally confident on the roads, but the slow riding i was struggling with.
I could do emergency stops ok although i had to break the habit of locking the back wheel, but i found the u turns and slow riding i could only do 50% of the time without putting my foot down, Even as Tuesday came to an end i was still finding this hard.
We then went to the test centre as another of Marks pupils was taking his module 1, We sat and watched him go through the course, it looked easier than i expected but i was still unhappy with my slow riding.
I will say at this point that the avoidance test didnt look anywhere near as dangerous as various reports i had read (MCN im looking at you) Its almost impossible to see how you can come off unless you brake whilst making the sharp turn, This must come down to adequate training and if you are inclined to apply heavy front brake whilst leaning over, surely its better to fall off on an empty carpark rather than a busy road! So if like me you are apprehensive about this part of the new test, dont be.
Henry (the other pupil went on to pass the test with flying colours (although he knocked a cone over, the examiner never seemed to notice!) Then off home to leave me fretting about U-Turns, vowing to fall off sideways before i put my foot down tomorrow.
Module 1 Wednesday
The Sun was Shining but i was a complete bag of nerves on the morning of module 1, my test was booked for 10am with a 90 min training session before hand. I took no chances and donned my lucky pants, couldnt do any harm!
During the 90 minute training Mark focussed on my slow riding, thankfully everything came together as if by magic (or lucky pants) and i never set a foot down once, feeling slightly encouraged we headed off to the test centre
A quick fag and then into the examiners office, Garth seemed like a nice enough chap, he explained the procedure, reminding me that as soon as we pass through the gates onto the course, it is treated as a public road, so dont forget your observations!
I chose to wheel my bike through the gates and the had to push it into a coned off "parking space" and place it on the stand, with my heart pounding i pushed the bike into the bay, lowered the stand, stopped and my heart sank as i realised i had pushed the bike straight out into the road without looking! Had i failed already! the sinking feeling lifted slightly and i decided to press on regardless, wheeling the bike out of the bay and reversing it into another facing the yellow slalom cones, i was instructed to mount up, ride through the slalom then complete 2 figure of 8's around 2 blue cones at the top, heart in mouth, i released the clutch and set off, the slalom was easy and i took Marks advice on the figure of 8 and went round really really wide, you can go as wide as you like so there is no point trying to be clever and neat! after completing maybe 3 or 4 figure of 8's ( i lost count, im sure the examiners smile about how many times people go round here) the examiner called me over, Phew no feet down.
Next came the dreaded avoidance test, i have heard that people struggle to get to the required 50kph through the speed trap so i wound the throttle open, passed through the speed trap (64kph! there is no upper speed limit) made the turn through the marked cones and drew to a stop inside a fairly small coned box, even at 64kph the turn felt no worse than moderate and i feel i could have gone faster or completed this in heavy rain (the course is layed with extra grippy asphalt)
Then my nemesis, the U turn, The area marked out was wider than the roads i had been practising on and i made the turn with plenty of room to spare. feeling pleased with myself i stopped at the line for the slow riding section, I tried to remain calm as the examiner walked VERY slowly along , started to wobble a bit but managed to keep my feet up, after walking past the stopping place ( im sure he saw me wobble so walked a bit further) i pulled up for the final challenge, the emergency stop, Back up and through the speed trap again, still giving it plenty on the throttle i did my stop with no drama. As soon as i pulled up the feeling of elation rapidly passed as i remembered my initial mistake on observation, had it all been for nothing? i pulled the bike into a parking bay and followed the examiner back inside, as i passed Mark i looked at his face for a clue but he was giving nothing away. "Please take a seat, thats the end of the test and im pleased" was all i heard, Thank god for that! no minors either, result!
we then watched another of Marks pupils go through the test, he failed to reach speed twice on the avoidance test and failed, it was this poor guys second attempt after knocking a cone over on the first try, and to make matter worse he had his module 2 booked for that afternoon.
Back out onto the road feeling ecstatic, as far as i was concerned that was the hard part over with. A day off on Thursday and back for part 2 on Friday.
Module 2 Friday
A beautiful sunny morning, i slipped on my luck pants and headed for my 9am start with my module 2 booked for 10.24 (precisley) I was feeling very confident, after all my road riding with Mark, the only thing i had any problem with was making turns without "swannecking" but we did some more practice on this and arrived at the centre feeling ready to ride. Same examiner as for the module 1 , into the office this time to be kitted out with a radio. we then went outside for the eyesight test and some basic questions on motorcycle operation "show me how the horn works" etc. Mark had given me a stock of answers to remember and i had them ready. Then out onto the road for about 40 minutes, i rode a course that i hadnt previously covered on my lessons but my training held good and i rode well, I had the normal "should i over take" situation arise after about 10 minutes on the road, saw what i considered to be a safe gap and blasted by some old duffer cruising along at 50 in a 60 limit, glanced at my speedo and saw 72mph!!!! eek!, Luckily the examiner had not made the overtake so didnt seem close enough to notice, on we rode, pulling over twice, once on as much of a hill as norwich can muster and through every kind of obstacle from o junction with a "wait at lights" sign and no bloody lights to parked lorrys on bends. Again my training held firm and we pressed on back to the test centre. Back into the office joined by mark, Radio off, then "im pleased to say" WOOHOOOO!!! 2 minors for swannecking but hell, a pass is a pass.
a quick fag then Mark tells me i can ride back alone, feeling a bit lonely i decided to whoop and holler in my helmet all the way back.
So thats my story, from Zero to Hero in 5 days with Mark from Camrider Norwich, I couldnt have asked for a better instructor, a genuine nice guy.
I have just been and ordered a brand new Honda Hornet ;)