It’s the 29th of December. The temperature’s -4°C, the roads are like glass (the bits that aren’t are caked with diesel and salt) and it’s 7:15 am — a time I normally only ever see from the other end of the day.
So why am I even thinking about getting my bloody bike out? The usual excuse of congenital insanity doesn’t even hold this time, as the decision was made several days in advance, following a call from the IAM’s examiner for the advanced test — something I’d applied for back in November, when ‘dry roads’ wasn’t an oxymoron. I’d had one non-attempt at the test already — earlier in December, we’d arranged a Saturday morning. On the day, it was throwing it down and I had major-league jetlag. My server had also crashed so I obviously needed to go into London to reboot it (turned into a three day rebuild, but never mind :)), so that was a good enough excuse to cry off. This was the rerun.
I’d even managed to get some practice in — for a couple of hours on Boxing Day the gales died down and a strange yellow light appeared in the sky. That was enough to persuade me to kick the tyres and head out for a quick 70 miles down my second-favourite local road, the infamous A272. There is a certain perverse pleasure to be had in successfully and semi-smoothly negotiating conditions that, taken on their own, you’d simply choose a motocross machine for — washdown, leaf residue, tractor mud and diesel from numerous elderly horseboxes heading out for the Christmas Point-to-Points. All good practice at keeping a smooth line and learning good throttle sense — accelerating and slowing as far as possible without using the brakes — I managed thirty miles of twisties and villages at a halfway decent pace without touching either brake lever.

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