Finally, motorcycles on my blog! Finally, an additional topic that will make my life and yours more interesting. Because we need to make you aware that the deaf people are not so „lame„, they can, they also have fears and canyons in their confidence. They also have the right to fight for their dreams, even if they seem absurd in the eyes of others.
You will say that a motorcycle is nothing unusual, that everyone can ride, if not afraid. You will also say that the deaf on a motorbike is a much greater threat than the hearing impaired. Oh, really?
In the winter of 2019, I was looking for a school in two cities. I was writing emails, presenting my situation – totally deaf, lipreading, BSL (British Sign Language) and my M. was making calls. Most schools kept refusing – the instructors were afraid, they had no experience and did not want to take any risks. „Take a challenge” sounds different, but „take a risk” was stronger. Okay. Finally, there was the Camrider School in Peterborough. M. and I went there to find out how people look like there :).Instructor Dale had previous experience of teaching deaf people to drive cars and also knew how to communicate with this type of people. I would be his first deaf student on a motorcycle.
It was February 2019. I sat on a Yamaha XJ 600, which I was to drive in the future.
Dale took up the challenge, he didn’t hide his excitement. He was as friendly as his pink and green beard.
We started with CBT (Compulsory Basic Training). I got a Yamaha 125YBR. A tiny little one, but surprisingly it was just right. I tried different ones, too, but that Yamaha was the most comfortable. First steps on the manoeuvring ground – getting used to speed, balance, gear shifting, turn signals and safety procedures („lifesaver” – checking right/left if there is no other vehicle, obligatory before every manoeuvre and starting). It went pretty fast, for about two hours. After the break was the second part – a trip to the city. Honestly, I don’t remember that feeling anymore, you don’t really remember such emotions. All I know is that I got the certificate.
How about communication? If you had to, Dale would walk around the square and imitate the bike, showing me where and how to drive. 80% of it was his gestures, and I was grasping what he meant by flying. I didn’t have a hearing aid under my helmet and I couldn’t hear the high roar of the engine when I changed gears, but Dale did and he showed me how to react. I didn’t have an intercom, I drove first and looked in the mirrors to find out when to turn (Dale followed me and signalled earlier). And that was it.
With CBT on paper, I had two years to do a full category A. After that time, you have to repeat the CBT.
I immediately joined the theoretical part, the exam was one of three elements to pass the full category A:
- theoretical exam
- Module 1 – manoeuvres on the square (11 tasks)
- Module 2 – city driving
I’ve „analysed” the whole book and a lot of online tests, my M. has helped me a lot in this knowledge. When booking an appointment, I indicated that I want a version with a BSL interpreter. And that option saved my ass several times. Not all the written phrases in English I understood, but when I looked at the interpreter in the corner of the screen the question immediately became clarified. The test consisted of two parts – a test with the correct answer and a set of videos where you had to click on the threats/hazard risks before they appeared.
Unfortunately, I failed the first time, I failed the test, the videos went well.
A month later, I took the exam again and passed. One rock of the head! But…
It was the end of March already. A few weeks before that, I had a car and had to buy a new „for yesterday„. The money for the moto course went to a more important target. I had to wait. In the meantime, I „tried” different bikes (Royal Enfield Himalayan, Harley Davidson Street 750, Honda Magna 700 and Kawasaki Vulcan 650 fly from the top).
Later on, other problems accelerated – the decision to move to my M., to another city. I barely breathed and recovered financially (I was working part-time) and I was surprised by another breakthrough – in August I was offered a part-time job at Cambridgeshire Deaf Association. I had to change my routine, thinking and finances. Because I started making a lot more money than ever before in England. When the effects after the changes calmed down a little bit the thought of going back to the motorbike course came to mind. It was end of November.
Dale was happy to see me and asked if I was driving some 125cc baby. Oh, shit, over a six-month break, I didn’t ride, I didn’t buy anything, there was a lot of confusion in my life, I couldn’t do it. But I passed the exam, I couldn’t take the course without it. Okay, you ready for a bigger bike? Uh, no, I’d rather remember myself on a smaller one. A little bit of riding in the yard and I said no, the bike wasn’t working with me at all, it was changing gears on its own, I sweated more than I did under my helmet. I wanted to return to self-confidence on a smaller one – I chose a cool city Lexmoto ZSB 125. Oh, beautiful ride! I didn’t think at all about changing direction indicators, making a „lifesaver„, changing gears, the motorcycle „did all by itself„. For the first time, I felt full synchronisation, harmony and pleasure from driving. I wanted more.
But the next lessons were already on the bigger 600cc motorcycle. First, the manoeuvring area, i.e. the eights, turns, turns, turns, high speed bypasses, emergency stops, various. As I’m after a hysterectomy and I can’t lift Dale came up with another way to move the bike, according to the exam guidelines. I fell a couple of times, I didn’t estimate the weight of the bike concerning the bend or turns, I was fine, when I flew down I landed with a banana in my mouth.
There was no mercy – I even drove when was pouring.
We were also leaving around the city, once my M. joined us, driving in the back caught my mistakes from a different side than the instructor driving in the front. It wasn’t a Lexmoto, but as more and more often I was training, my joy inside grew up. Especially when Dale forced me to get used to high speeds (60-70mph) on highways and when I was practising corners on narrow, out-of-town roads. The communication was similar to CBT earlier – it was enough to look in the mirrors and watch the signals (turn signal or blinking to stop) of the instructor at the back. Many times I got lost because I didn’t know this city well yet, but the most important thing was safety.
And finally, the big and unavoidable entrance to the first Mod1 exam, on the manoeuvre site. The examiner spoke English very clearly, was patient and understanding. I made some mistakes, but at the last task I hit a cone, and I failed. I didn’t care too much about it, I knew I would learn more and will be more confident on the next approach. Which I passed wonderfully.
And one more training in anticipation of Mod2. Unfortunately, it was postponed due to heavy rain. And on December 23rd, finally, full of stress, I started the exam. The technical issues of the bike went smoothly, that’s why you have a boyfriend who sits and „molest” you about such things. The examiner warned me that in my case it could take much longer, as we do not use intercoms. Honestly, I felt sorry for him when he got off his motorcycle 5-6 times, took off his gloves and pulled out a pencil to write me directions, and hid the paper again, put on his gloves/helmet. He was blinking the lights to me, which meant that I had to find a „safe place”.
When we returned to the examination centre, Dale and my M. were waiting for me on the spot. When the examiner sat down next to me and marked the errors and „Pass” I saw the cheers of my men after a while. Dale was probably more concerned than I was, he shed a few tears, and basically, it was a pride for him and his school – to teach a deaf woman to ride a motorcycle. And only two mistakes (ten allowed), which does not happen so often either. I gave my driving license to the examiner and I am supposed to wait for new ones, already with category A printed.
I’ve been putting together helmets, jackets, boots, gloves for the last year. I had to because I was riding with M. as a „backpack” in England. During the whole course, it was cold, it was freezing many times, it was raining and raining, my hands and feet were freezing, to the marrow and pain (unfortunately, school motorcycles are deprived of many accessories to facilitate riding in winter). That’s what I found time for my course… In December. Silly me…
I do not know when I will buy a bike for myself. I spent a lot of money on this course, the bike is not a priority. The course was because it stays for life. I was able to do it in English, with my lip-reading, but I have to admit that the biker boyfriend does all the work – he gave me knowledge, support, encouragement and contagion to a common passion. He does not pull me completely to speed, to race, he does not pull me to choppers, cruisers with high wheels. I am attracted to tourism – calm, relaxing, with a focus on landscapes. It also attracts me to light off-road, but here my hysterectomy puts an impassable barrier. My M. has now got drawn into off-road and I am sure I will get to know the taste in a while. Mud, extreme conditions, endurance aren’t alien to me, but body limits are limits…
The stage of learning on motorcycles has already finished, many roads, many emotions, many impressions, in different corners of the world have opened before me.
I am just beginning.
And my deafness does not bother me at all. The question is to find the right people who will teach you how to ride safely and accompany you on your trips. Deaf people aren’t worse or a threat to others on the roads. Like car drivers, deaf people often have to rely on their eyesight, which is extremely sharp. There is another kind of sensitivity to unforeseen situations, and this is also true when riding a motorcycle. Intercom is not so necessary, if the roads are calm, then motorbike driving is a pure, individual feeling. And you don’t need to share it with your companion on the expedition, because you know that he feels the same and contemplates in his own way.
And the silence in our case makes these impressions even more powerful.