When I thaw, I’ll have my M2 license

It’s official, I now hold an M2 driver’s license. This past weekend was my motorcycle training course here in Toronto.  There was a classroom session Thursday evening, and two full days in a parking lot just off Lake Ontario Saturday and Sunday.

On Thursday night, about 21 students showed up. By the end of Saturday, only 19 remained.

This course was hard. There were three other people there who either owned, or were planning to own a motor scooter, like my Piaggio. All the rest either owned (or will own) a motorcycle. On Thursday night I learned that we’d be using the school’s motorcycles instead of our own bikes. I had a panic attack. What do I know about real motorcycles?

Somehow I managed to convince myself that I wasn’t the only novice in the room and I certainly wasn’t the only person they’d ever taught who had no motorcycle experience.

Saturday was hard for two reasons. The first was getting accustomed to a motorcycle. We were encouraged to try different bikes. I probably tried about four. There were fuel levers to turn on, chokes, clutches and kill switches. It felt entirely overwhelming for most of the day. In my head, I imagined the instructors had a wager of who was most likely to finish at the bottom of the class, or the most likely to put their bike in Lake Ontario. I was further convinced that my name figured prominently in both wagers.

The second issue was weather. It rained and rained and rained on Saturday. It barely let up. It was also quite cold. Add to that our location right at the edge of the Lake and you have all the ingredients for one miserable day. Many students didn’t have a proper rain suit yet. Some were drenched. Those who picked up a cheap suit at Canadian Tire or similar places found out quickly how inadequate (and porous) they were. My rain suit that I picked up at the Motorcycle show was brilliant, and kept me dry.

I learned very quickly not to wipe the puddle off my motorcycle seat with my gloves, but just to sit on it. My butt was covered by my rainsuit, my gloves were not. One pair of gloves were entirely worn out by the weekend, another pair is sitting over the furnace vent drying out.

Despite the argument I had in my head about not showing up on Sunday, I managed to drag myself there. As an extra cruel jesture, Mother Nature unloaded snow, sleet, moments of freezing rain, a few minutes of hail, and multiple instances of that horizontal driving snow. Actually, it was unbeleivably miserable.

By noon we were down one more student. Now there were 18. As Sunday morning wore on, I got a little more confident and really tried to focus on the things I was doing wrong, and gain a bit more skill with the things I was doing right. At lunch I realized how much I’d learned over the day and a half, and that despite being the coldest and wettest that I’d likely ever been, it had been worthwhile, despite my performance on the test after lunch.

After lunch, the remaining 18 took their test maneouvers one by one. I was asked to repeat an emergency stop. I figured I had blown it when they asked me to do it again. But I did it, and just wanted to have a good attitude, be gracious to the instructors who were super patient with me, and do my best.

Once all the riding was done, we all hung around waiting for the results to be handed out. One by one students were called in for a private consult with an instructor. Folks were leaving in their cars and I didn’t understand if they had passed or failed. Lots of folks left in their cars.  I was just standing around hanging out with a gal that was also a scooter owner, and who lives in my neighbourhood. She was called next. She flashed me a thumbs up! I was happy for her. By the end, I hadn’t heard from the instructor yet and I yelled out “hey, did I pass or fail?”

A few of them chuckled and told me that I had passed! Imagine my shock! The gal who had stalled a bike about 28 times the day before, dropped another one actually passed (that’s me, by the way). One instructor who was consistently busting my chops, in the nicest way, over my repeat errors said “congratulations Tracy – you’ve really come a long way!”  Yep, I think I did too. It occured to me that those who were called first were asked to leave, because there was no official MTO paperwork to hand to them. They would have to schedule a re-test. Those of us who were left behind had to wait for our paperwork.

From a group of 21, which included five women, only 11 passed their M2 this weekend. Of those 11, two of them were women. Coincidentally, both scooter owners. The Ministry does not have a distinct M2 course for scooter owners. Since my scooter is not limited speed (it will do 105 km/hour), it classifies as a full-fledged motorcycle. It doesn’t have chokes or clutches or fuel levers. Driving it is very different than the bikes I was on this weekend, but the lessons about safety and maneouvering are valid. In another 18 months, I can get tested for my full M. The school I trained with this weekend has an M2 exit course that is specifically for bikes of 200cc and smaller. Sounds like that will be the course for me when the time comes.

Consider this fair warning…lock up your loved ones. I have a license to drive any time of the day now. I intend on using it!

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Congratulations! Sounds like you learned a lot!

    Reply

  2. Hey, just found you by way of Life Doesn’t Begin at Retirement.
    Was wondering where you took your motorcycle lessons as I was thinking of getting that as a gift for my DH.
    Will become a follower!!
    Jackie

    Reply

    • Hey Jackie, thanks for stopping by. I took my course at the Rider Training Institute. You can check them out here: http://www.ridertraining.ca/

      Your hubby would need to have a valid M1 in order to take the course. I thought the format of the learning was great, and I have a lot of respect for the instructors. They’re all seasoned riders, and specific with their clear feedback.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Janet on April 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Congratulations Tracy !! I am sure you will enjoy riding your scooter at any time of the day now 🙂

    Reply

  4. Posted by it's me, Sam on April 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Congratulations! Watch out for the other drivers!

    Reply

  5. Posted by seenonflickr on April 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Oh, that weather was awful! I’m sorry you had to be out in it – but what a result! Congratulations!!

    Reply

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