A few months ago I realised that it would make sense if I was to go out and get my motorcycle license. In Africa, sooner or later I was likely to want to rent or borrow a motorcycle, either to join a group of biking travelers for a day or two, or simply because there might be one I could borrow to nip into the nearest town or city. That’s got to be easier than driving a seven metre long truck into town, when all I want to pick up is some provisions, or a visa for example.
So I booked up for lessons at a school in Dubai near my office. Frankly the eight hours of ‘lectures’ I had to attend were truly awful, with training videos obviously stolen from both UK and Australian training schemes (so the vehicles were on the other side of the road to the way we drive in Dubai – very helpful if you are just learning!) one video taken from a UK comedy show (No, I am not joking) which was full of obscene, profane language from start to finish (it was supposed to highlight the dangers of driving when angry….go figure) , an instructor whose English was so poor I could barely understand him – despite the fact that this was the “lessons in English” class – and instructions for road use which were downright dangerous, stupid and just plain wrong!
Having taken the subsequent ‘Knowledge Test’ I was then entitled to learn to ride, and I’m sorry to say that with only very limited advice (ha!) from my instructors, I was a bit slow on the uptake. Specifically my clutch control just wasn’t very subtle – I guess 35 years of using my left foot to control the clutch had not left me with much finesse when it came to using my left hand instead. Still I eventually got the hang of it and passed the two handling skills test and the road test first time, so was finally able to add Motorcycle to my Light Vehicle and Heavy Truck licenses.
But I know that obtaining a license is NOT the same as learning to ride – it’s just the first step, so the first thing I did once I’d passed my test was to sign up for some off road riding lessons. My work as the official photographer to the Emirates Desert Championship means that I’d plenty of contacts with the MotoX riding community here, so I contacted Sam Smith of Big Red Motorsports and asked him for four hours of one to one instruction. You’ll see from the video just how I coped – the difference between my first few minutes of nervous riding, and my belting through rough tracks and the dunes just 90 minutes later, is clear to see.
My Thanks to Sam Smith, but also to my business partner Ian Barker for the loan of his Go Pro camera, and to Graeme Chart, my drumming tutor, who put together the great music track you’ll here on this, and all future videos I make for this page.
Don’t forget to like and follow the page for regular updates, and please feel free to drop me a line on either Facebook or here. Managing my social media content is clearly going to keep me busy – as if driving across Africa wasn’t enough work 🙂
If there’s one thing I do enjoy it’s a car show and when my friend and serial automotive business entrepreneur Phil McGovern announced his latest “Caffeine & Machine” meet, I realised this would be my first chance to show TTT off to a wide audience and generate some interest in the vehicle, my journey and this blog. So with TTT duly washed and polished I drove down to the event at the superb Port Rashid venue. The directions themselves were enticing “Go in through the main gate, tell them you are with Caffeine & Machine. Go over the first roundabout, left at the lights, then turn left at the Queen Elizabeth II”.
No, Her Majesty was not actually there to meet me in person, but the cruise liner the QE2 has been moored in Dubai for 10+ years now and whilst it’s a shame she’s not been developed as the tourist attraction which she could be (along the lines of the Queen Mary in Long Beach CA), she’s still an imposing vessel. As I entered the port there was a 1930s Ford pick-up behind me and a modified Unimog in front of me, so I knew I was going to enjoy the show. I drove past my friend Laurie Bridger’s gorgeous 1959 Cadillac convertible, waited for a couple of 1960’s Mustangs to park, queued behind a Lamborghini LM002 4×4 to get to the ‘off road’ display and parked alongside my business partner Ian Barker’s Chevy LS2 powered rally prepped Nissan Patrol (it’s for sale, details here http://newtrixracing.blogspot.ae/ )
I hadn’t been out of the vehicle five minutes and was still opening up all the panels and attaching information sheets (to save me explaining things a 100 times) , when the first intrigued passers-by came over to chat. It must have been two hours later when I realised the sun was beginning to set and I’d yet to take any photos. So I made a very brief walk around a fraction of one of the display areas, between the McLaren P1s and Lancia Stratos, vintage Jaguars and Porsches, Ferrari 365 and 308s (mmmmm!), VW split screen campers and…and…and…
I was in automotive heaven, but sadly lack of light curtailed my photography, and by the time I returned to TTT there was a queue of visitors waiting to take a look around. If I’d have been charging admission I’d have made a fortune. I reckon I showed over 30 groups and families around the truck, met up with a number of my journalist friends who were finally able to see the vehicle for the first time, and generally just had a great time.
Six hours later I drove home, a very happy man, and with any number of new followers of this blog – so “Hi” to you all and Thanks for coming along and meeting me. And Thank you Phil for the trouble I know you must have gone to, to get the event off the ground.