Having passed the, really quite difficult snd stressful, theory test a few weeks ago I got to hang around in a car park of a government facility with a gaggle (what is the collective noun for motorcyclists?) of downy feathered noob ducklings and their instructors. Truth be told, a fair few of these blokes ain’t that green because a few of them have been riding around on their new toys already. Naughty! I felt a bit of a fraud in my fly encrusted Dainese leather jacket and battered Sidi boots whilst they had all this shiny new kit on.
Anyhow, after grabbing the necessary paperwork the first confusion started “Where is your attestation from the riding school that you have taken the course?”; I didn’t need it… paperwork… bureaucracy.. etc.
Sooo… the ‘Closed Track Test’ consists of testing basic motorbike skills with seven tasks and is introduced by a lovely examiner who, after wheeling various sensors around and setting up, the proceed to describe each task at great length with hilarious anecdotes. None of which I understood because of his incredible accent. Oh and because I can’t understand a word of Quebecois.
Despite getting there 20 minutes early, due to the whole missing attestation thing I ended up almost last to hop on the weird belt driven 650cc cruiser that the very lovely Morties Driving School rented me. Actually, thinking of it… $110 is the most I have spent on a ride that lasted less than five minutes. The money, for Morty, is really in having four brand new bikes and an instructor hanging around all morning. You can use your own bike, but you’d have to ride it there and that would be illegal; not that I have a bloody bike yet, nor any idea when it will arrive. How come I can buy a pair of earbuds from China for $4.99 and get notified if the package handler in the Chicago depot farts but no-one at Honda Canada knows where the massive box containing my hugely expensive motorbike is?
Back to the tasks… On the weird cruiser thing, have a go with the clutch; brakes seem nippy and scoot off to your man toting the clipboard and massive control box with the aerial. He could have been a crane operator in another life. Seemingly cool with me not understanding a word, he repeats what seemed like very verbose French instructions in curt friendly English.
Task One – Gears and Stop
“Second gear and stop by the red” – Off we go through the little flappy tabs glued to the asphalt, second gear and stop.
Task Two – Slalom
Scribble scribble “Now slalom! Second gear by the yellow tabs then slalom” says examiner man. Second gear left right left then back to the start down the middle.
Task Three – Slow Race
“Now slow test!” The idea here is you go through these sensors that measure in, out and time in the special zone. I must say; cruisers are weird. Having your feet in front of you really doesn’t do balance any good. Hence why the theory test had so many questions about counterbalancing. So you ride up to the sensors, lower your speed and have to ride between two points in five seconds or longer.
Task Four – Slow Corner
“Go round here and come back” – A mildly tight 90º corner and back to the same spot.
Task Five – Cornering
“So now round in a fast circle.” – Just imagine riding round the perimeter of a tennis court in second gear. That’s what I did.
Task Six – Emergency Manoeuvre
“20km/h look at the arrow… go that way”. He points to a light box at the end that looks like this [<-O->]. When you have reached 20km/h the arrow left or right arrow lights up randomly. You go that way. One of my compatriots went the opposite way and he was still fine.
Task Seven – Emergency Braking
“Same thing as before; now stop when it’s red!” He nods, I do the strangely alien (as there is nothing for tens of meters around us) check left, right, left drummed into us by Mortie’s instructors and set off to my 20km/h and slam on the anchors.
Mr 80s electronics then cheerfully tells me I aced it and that “You’ll pass the road test no problem” and sends me off with a pink paperclip fastened bundle of papers where I negotiate the multitude of weird foreigners attempting to get Quebec driving legal in the SAAQ hall of red LED hieroglyphics displays.
Two hours later, after waiting ages then chatted to by a lovely teller who was very apologetic, I leave lighter of wallet, mildly confused with another test booked for a week’s time.
I suppose, at least I get to miss all this BS…
Update: here’s a video showing the whole thing