Having paid my $364 for the SA Rider Safe (State Government run) two x half day learner sessions, I looked forward to the experience with a lot of excitement and some degree of trepidation, being an absolute novice. Day one finally arrived (yesterday) and I turned up at the range with all the other eager lads and ladettes. I thought I blended in with them ok but as one of the eagle-eyed instructors asked me if I wanted to use a scooter instead of the Suzuki TU 250, I don’t think I got away with it. ‘Of course not’ I replied...unfortunately my perceived level of competence far exceeded my actual level of expertise. The theory session went ok, I felt like I knew what I would be doing. So out to the ‘range’ we went. This consisted of two asphalt covered, chain-link fenced, large basketball style courts – one for the learners and one for those hopeful of getting their licence. Things started off ok. But as we were ‘walking’ the bikes, I began to think that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. The weight of it (for me) felt significant… Kept on going. Managed to get it 'moving in a straight line, get off, turn it around, get back on, return to the starting position'. This is when it all turned to shit. Everyone else had stopped at the ‘white line’, but not me, no, I kept on going. Had no idea how to stop the thing – panic set in, had no idea what to do or what I was doing. Brain wasn’t firing at all. So, I managed to avoid the two parked bikes along the fence line, luckily there was no vehicle parked on the other side of the fence because I reckon the ‘cave like’ appearance taken on at the particular section of the fence I used to stop was at least 1.5m deep. The bike was still upright and I just stood bent over it with my hands on my head (helmet). My instructors rushed over to see if I was ok, thinking I was badly hurt – no, just a minor wrist sprain and a few bruises was all from what I could tell. The clutch lever was stuffed but the instructor seemed almost pleased that this was all the damage sustained (probably thinking about the paperwork – it is a government run establishment). I still don’t know what I did wrong. Apparently I was on one wheel for some of the time (I don’t remember), dropped the clutch - who knows. Couldn’t feel where the rear brake was – stupidly wore boots similar to my work steel caps. I might as well have had two bricks strapped to my feet. And all this in the first 15 minutes of practice. No-one laughed. No-one looked directly at me either. Hmm I bet they were thinking ‘thank god it was that old lady and not me’ (they were young’uns after all). Don’t blame them – I’m sure I looked like a complete tool. I knew if I didn’t get back on that I’d never go near one again. So equipped with a new bike I tentatively followed instructions and managed to do at least 3-4 laps of the range in 1st gear. Progress. The instructor beckoned me to return in a straight line towards where he was standing, so I duly obliged. Even from 50m+ away I could see he was standing on the balls of his feet, ready to spring in whichever direction I wasn’t pointed when I approached him. Yea of little faith – I was nowhere near him ! I think he must have a trust issue. Having passed him I was directed to swing wide, turn and return to the ‘white line’ – ‘head up, eyes looking straight ahead, use your peripheral vision to see the line’. I saw it ok, as I keep on going – again – how the hell do you stop this thing!! Ahha, the kill switch of course ! That did it ! For a few seconds I had visions of me careening into the fence at the other end of the range – matching caves !! Ok, so I got the bike back in line with everyone else – what’s next ? A 10 minute break – oh good. In my excitement to get as far away from the beast as I could I made the classic mistake. Yelling a number of expletives, I got the attention of a few people who came running back to lift the bike off the ground – at least I wasn’t under it. Who expects a perfect paint job on a training bike anyway ? Oh and by the way – I also took off with the stand down at one point... So the others had their break, and I was invited inside to complete the requisite paperwork for idiots. ‘Out of interest’ the instructor asked, ‘what’s your motivation for coming here today?’ – interpreted as ‘what the f... do you think you’re doing here – go away lady” ‘Feel free to stay and watch the rest of the session’ – interpreted as ‘please don’t get back on the bike today’ ‘You can come back as many times as you want to’ – interpreted as ‘yes, but I’ll be on sick leave when you do’ The final straw was – ‘we’ll be learning how to use the front brake when we go back out’ – decision made, that’s one gadget too many for my brain – I’m going home, never to return. Suffice it to say anyone in my vicinity, including Vlad at the end of the phone 2000kms away, had no doubt about how I viewed this experience - I even removed my Netrider bookmark – ‘won’t be looking on there again’ I vowed. I reckon I can tick off quite a few newbie mistakes in my first hour on a bike so I suppose all was not lost. I can’t believe they haven’t got CCTV – imagine the footage they’d get. I wonder if they keep a list like Top Gear has for the celebrity laps – I reckon I’d be down at the bottom for sure… Woke up today even more sore and bruised and still feeling sorry for myself. But whilst making the 45 minute trip to work I had an epiphany – ‘f… it. I’m not going to let this beat me’ I told myself. So watch this space. I’ll be back again in a few weeks (once the bruises heal) with hopefully a positive outcome – a yellow piece of plastic with a large black L in the middle !