September 2015 we are traveling the south of France and cruising along the Corniche d’Or between Fréjus and Cannes by car.
And, as beautiful as this route is, the car drivers are the most annoying thing on this narrow and twisty road: Some of them block everything creeping along with 10 mph while others are tailgating us in their desire to race along with 70 mph, yet utterly incapable of overtaking.
The multitudes of motorcyclists are so much more relaxed – if they want to travel faster, they overtake us without any drama at all after the next bend.
And then we unexpectedly come across the The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride 2015 in Cannes – without knowing at the time what that even is.
Thus we hatch the following plan: Wouldn’t it be great to return one day, on motorcycles.
The only catch: So far neither of us has got a motorcycle license. No problem, when you’re fast approaching 50, it is high time for a midlife crisis project anyway, so let this one be ours.
We discover motovlogs, motorcycle travel books, books of somewhat senior people doing their bike license. We watch The Long Way Round and The Long Way Down. We research driving schools, terms, conditions and prices.
And then we enrol for Spring 2016. What can possibly go wrong?
The theory exam doesn’t, we both pass on first attempt. These days the tools for preparation are quite sophisticated, e.g. the website of ADAC (German only) which trains the exact exam questions. So it is just a matter of time until everything has sunk in.
There is a special kind of hilarity involved in entering a room full of 15 to 18 years old kids smelling of fear and to hand one’s papers to a minder who is quite a lot younger than oneself.
Elli already finds the theory lessons amongst all the cool adolescents amusing, particularly because of all the modern technology available today that keeps the entertainment levels up.
Theory is all very well, practice is something else again: Old
farts people are obviously less willing to take risks, i.e. more skittish, which results in lots of adrenalin being released during the first driving lessons on two wheels and brings sweat of fear to our brows. Now, I think I can hear the 15 to 18 years old kids having their revenge, laughing at me derisively.
We start on a pretty old Honda CB500 without ABS playing with cones and riding slowly overland.
It is a smashing feeling receiving a greeting from an oncoming biker for the very first time. I am in good spirits for the rest of the day.
Since I want to do the unrestricted A-license and the CB500 is throttled to 48 hp, I soon switch to a Kawasaki ER-5n with 72 hp. The rest remains identical.
Eventually all the cones remain standing most of the time, all mandatory lessons are done and the date for the exam is set. I take one extra lesson just before the exam to calm my nerves.
But then I drop a cone in the exam in an exercise that I just practiced without error an hour earlier. But no worries, I am allowed to try it a second time and this time I do it correctly. So all I have to endure are some sardonic remarks from the examiner before he hands me my brand new and shiny license. I can live with that.
Now on to the next challenge: Selection and purchase of an appropriate bike.