If you'd like to read about the long (international) process I had to follow, read on: otherwise skip to the photos :-)
I had a motorcycle licence in Australia (having passed the two very simple tests in the 1970s) but it expired eventually while I was in the Netherlands in the 1980s. The Dutch authorities would not acknowledge or exchange the licence for a Dutch one (they still do not acknowledge non-EU licences: one must pass the testing for a Dutch licence within 185 days). At the time the stipulations for a Dutch motorcycle licence involved being able to pick a fallen (Virago 250) motorcycle up off the ground using only one arm*. I did the obligatory lessons for a while but did not even bother 'sitting' for the test. I ended up going for a car licence in the end, and passing both theory and practical first time round. Was always regretful about the motorcycle licence though.
(*It is theoretically possible. But why would you? Here you can read how to do it using all of your body.)
Once back in Australia in 2001 I encountered the same thing: Australia would not acknowledge or exchange the Dutch car licence for an Australian one (sheesh!). Luckily it's a lot cheaper to get your licence here than in NL (where one must use accredited driving schools, which charge exorbitant prices). I did the two car driving tests and passed with flying colours. Naturally, as my motorcycle licence had expired they would not reinstate that automatically (... sad face).
Living with John and meeting his very lovely motorcycling friends (all of whom are interesting, kind, well educated, intelligent and sane!) has encouraged me to get back on the bike. So in November 2012 I did the excellent and interesting two-day pre-Learner course (followed by a practical riding test). Thereupon I went to the RTA (now RMS = Road and Maritime Services) and passed the theoretical test. (You can try the test for yourself here). This allowed me on the road with my own "learner-approved" Honda 250 cc and ride around "on my L plates" which restricts me to 80kph (but don't get me started about how potentially dangerous that is on the Pacific Highway).
If you are already bored, reading this far, perhaps you can understand how much tenacity it takes to get through these hoops :-P
|On the L's and ready to ride!|
|This is one of the eight tests. You may not put your foot down, hit a cone, stall the bike or cross a yellow line.|
To prepare for these John and I had gone over to the university car park on Saturday to practise some of the more difficult moves. John gave me much valuable advice and instruction.
|John showing me how to manage a very tight U-turn on the BMW|
On Sunday's Pre-provisional day itself, I had classroom training, practical training sessions on a course and a 40km road ride (which was both testing and training, rolled into one). This culminated in the final MOST test. For various reasons I took my 250cc Honda rather than my bigger 650cc BMW.
In the classroom my classmates and I learned about the three principles of road-craft: observation, slowing down, and creating buffer zones. We discussed the dangers of taking unacceptable risks, exceeding comfort or skill levels, and how to prevent other people crashing into you (well, as much as one can). We learned how to take the best 'line' in corners (in general, start wide, finish tight but stay flexible: it depends on the oncoming traffic and road condition). We learned the mantra of "Monitor; Think; Ask" and even had a session on the psychology of self-talk (externalising potential dangers versus internalising them and asking oneself "what could I have done differently?"). The content was interesting and very useful, and our trainer ("Hans", a well-spoken Australian / German man) was excellent.
|Just some of the scenarios we learned about|
|Stopping at the roadside, and learning lots from Hans|
|Back on the bikes to continue the road ride training / test|
So now I have my motorcycle P plates, which I can automatically convert to a full open licence in 12 months. No more tests!! (I have by now done ten official driving tests all up, and that's counting MOST as a single test. And passed all first time!). PHEW.
But the training was brilliant - I'm so glad I followed the full process. I would recommend the training to anyone wanting to improve their riding skills and enhance their safety on the road.