So, what have happened since last time?
I’ve been riding. And riding. And riding.
First off, two days after passing my driver’s exam and buying my bike, I went upp to Strömsund in Swedish Jämtland, around 700 km from Stockholm by bike. From there we went to Finnish Lapland by car, to a town called Ranua about 80 km from Rovaniemi. After close to a week we went back, and I took the bike back to Stockholm via a night in Mora.
Back home I took a few days to wash, repack and plan,and also to install my first modification to the bike: A 12 volt power outlet (cigarette plug) hidden inside the toolbox compartment. This is in turn connected to a relay that I installed, so that it only gives power when the bike is started to prevent the battery from discharging in case I forget the power adapter to the GPS plugged in.
Anyway, me and three friends went back on the road again.
First stop was Tibro, where I lived between I was 5 and 16. Of course we went straight to Tibro Bar & Grill, and then off to our respective friends and family to sleep (3 of 4 were raised in Tibro). The next day it was more or less pouring down the entire time, so we took the shorter route to Hökerum, Ulricehamn, where my parents live. After spending the evening and night there we went on to Linköping, still in the rain. We split up again, and met the next day, when the sun finally came through. Onward to Västervik where MC-dagarna, the largest bike event in northern Europe, was held. Lots and lots of awesome bikes, both at the exhibition and in the camping area. We camped there for a night, and then the rest of the guys went back to Stockholm while I continued on to Öland where my parents had rented a house. After 5 days there, I went back to spend another night in Linköping before going back to Stockholm. Besides that I’ve been cruising around a lot in between, both in Stockholm and on Öland.
Pictures have been requested so pictures are produced:
I have now been driving for a couple of weeks and am really making progress.
I have my written exam in about two weeks and I’m pretty confident that I will do well there. 65 questions in 50 minutes, where you have to have at least 52 correct answers.
The practical exam, which you can’t schedule until you have passed the written exam, has five parts.
It starts with a security check for the bike where you have to know how to check the all vital parts of the electrical system, breaks, wheels & tires, bearings and a bunch of other stuff.
After that is a low speed driving test, which looks something like this:
The above should be done as slow as possible, no faster than you normally walk. I’ve got most of it under control, but needs some more polishing before final tests. For some reason I keep forgetting to keep my eyes up in the distance, which you need to do for proper balance (like a line dancer). I also need to remember to squeeze my thighs to the gas tank, to keep the body and bike balance together.
The high speed part looks like this:
Last time I tried this I instinctively used the front brake when turning around the last cone, and since the bike was leaning so much to be able to turn in that narrow space, I of course crashed. The knee pad took the blunt of the force, and I tore the fabric of the pants tore open (belonged to the traffic school). However, I strained my arm either when falling or when lifting the bike up (dry weight is 220kg/485lbs). That was about a week ago, and it still hurts a bit when lifting stuff. Anyway, need some more practice for this part.
After this comes the brake test, where you have to demonstrate hard, controlled brakes from 70km/h (45mph) and 90km/h (55mph), using both front and back brakes. I haven’t actually tried at those speeds yet, but I often lock the back brake (ABS not allowed) and forget to look up, same as in the low speed test, when braking from 50km/h (30mph). So some more practice needed here as well.
Last out is the traffic test, where you drive both inside and outside of a city towards a given target or directions given by radio through a variety of roads and streets with different traffic intensity. You will be judged by your driving position, selection of gear, attention, Eco driving and how you technically handle the bike. This part takes about 25 minutes.
But before I can even take the written exam, I have to take (and pass) a practical safety education, where you for 5 hours will be tested and teached about hard accelerations, braking from high speeds and driving independently. The idea is to learn not to overestimate your ability and the dangers of different road types. Gravel is a bitch in curves! This is scheduled one day before the written exam, so if I don’t pass I have to redo it. And pay another 1925 SEK for this, and another couple of hundred SEK for the written exam, which I will have to reschedule. Taking a driver’s license in Sweden is expensive, and most people spend at least 15000-20000 SEK altogether. Which is too bad, since then you don’t have any money left to buy a bike. 😉
Speaking of bikes, I have refined my wishlist a bit, and the following bikes are now the most interesting:
These bikes all have the look I’m after, and even the smallest of them have well enough performance for a first bike. And even if many cc’s and a fat sound from the pipes are fun, they are not that important to me. More important for my first bike is maneuverability, reliability, comfort and price. I mean, after a year or two I can always trade up to 1600 cc if I feel I suddenly need to compensate for something. 😉
Today I found a song called Sweet Swedish Winter by a band called Freewheel. First I though that it was an American band from the 60’s, judging by the style of the music and the recording itself, but it turned out to be a Swedish band from 1998. They apparently published just one album (Starfriend) and then disappeared (Sweet Swedish Winter is in my opinion the best song on the album).
Soundwise it’s a bit unpolished, sometimes a bit off-key, but with a certain charm.
Buy or download the album if you can find it. The music makes you happy. 🙂