Contemplating doing Level 2 training?

NielG's picture

Points: 4

Having completed Level 1 only a few weeks prior, I tackled Level 2 training on the 4th of December 2016.

Level 1 was skilfully presented by Peter O’Hanlon at the end of October 2016. We were only five people on the course with 3 ladies and 2 guys. The skill sets were varied from a seasoned dirt road rider to a lady that had her first ride on a bike that day. For me Level 1 was all about bike balancing and handling. At one stage I really envied the people with the 650’s. They seemed so much more nimble and easy to handle. My 1200 initially felt like a ton of bricks, but as the day progressed the ton of bricks started feeling like a sack of feathers – until it threw me off when not paying enough attention in the figure-8 exercise. I just loved the outride at the close of the training day. The ride took us through the vineyards and onto farm roads. Up steel inclines and down steep downhills over a dam wall. It was nothing strenuous, but way nicer than the tar roads I was used to.

Shortly after the Level 1 training the notice came out for another training day – Level 1, Level 2 and Pillion training. How soon can I attempt to do Level 2 after having completed Level 1? Geez, I asked quite a few people, but none gave me a satisfactory answer. Danie (GeelKameel) had one of the best inputs – “Get miles in the saddle and get off the tar onto easy dirt roads. You now have the basics to do so.” Still not satisfied I contemplated contacting the organisers. Having John Car’s e-mail address I contacted him. He was in assistance during the Level 1 training with Peter. I saw his bike skills and are still amazed at the way he can handle a bike, even with a pillion on the back. His answer to my mail was a very confusing “It takes you out of your comfort zone and teaches you more bike control.” A follow up question resulted in a more confusing: “Not a bad idea to do Level 1 again…”. Shit! Was I that bad during the Level 1 training??! Another follow-up question to John resulted in a “Do level 2, there is nothing that you cannot handle.” Well that was all the info I needed in the first place…

Registered for Level 2 and off on the 4th of December for the training. A few of my friends also went along and did the Level 1 training. (Read Africa_Sam’s review of his Level 1 experience).

Well, the first set of training exercises started off with the dreaded figure-8 exercise. This time is was not done around the cones. Arno Rossouw, our tourmentor for the day (as dubbed by Gert Coetzee) had us do all our exercises inside what felt like an ever decreasing box of cones. We ended the cone riding with a multiple entry and exit exercise. After finishing it I felt as if I do a figure-8 with the 1200GSA inside a small double garage with some room to spare! Then it was the dam wall. Yes, the damn wall. We had to stall the bikes going up the dam wall and get out of the situation while keeping the bike under control. In some cases you would ‘Jimmy’ your bike down the slope. (This would be very useful later the afternoon.) After mastering the uphill exercise, we had to ride straight up the dam wall and do a 90 degree turn in what felt like a small twee spoor pad on top of the wall before turning down and coming down under control. When scanning the dam wall I really thought that there was a good chance of not making the turn and going down the other side into the water. All the participants however succeeded with all the exercises.

Lunch was provided by Anura another in the lovely garden in a very relaxed atmosphere. It was nice hearing the stories from the other participants on how they experienced their training. Sam showed me a photo where he posed with his 1200GSA wit it on the ground during the exercise to pick the bike up. I jokingly stated that I need to see another photo for not being able to see his number plate in the photo. Sam is more than just careful to damage any of his vehicles. His bike and other vehicles are painfully kept in pristine showroom condition, so I have real empathy for him for having done this exercise.

After lunch we first practiced emergency stops. Unlike Level 1, we had to utilise our front breaks to decrease our stopping distance. Up to this point the training was, as John Carr put it, a bit out of my comfort zone. Little did I know what was to come…

Arno briefed us on wat was now to come. All the training done to date in both Level 1 and 2 was now going to be put into practice in one off-road ride past a few farms, past Marianne Wine Estate, Wiesenhof Private Nature Reserve, Niel Joubert Wines and onto Simonsberg Nature Reserve. I volunteered to ride sweeper. (Note to self: Never volunteer for anything!) That meant I was the last rider in the group and had to either help stranded riders or summons help (yea right – who will help in those mountains).

We started off at a nice pace through the vineyards. At one point we were following a contour track to a point where the track turned tightly to the right at a steep downhill. As I entered the turn I saw the guy in front of me going to the ground with another rider already between the vines. My first instinct was to grab the breaks and stop. Big mistake! I lost my balance to the downhill side of the slope and ended up a few meters downhill of the bike. As the last guy in the group with no-one to help I gathered my pride and picked up the bike. Next to the bike a few spares lay which I picked up – must be someone that lost something so I stuffed it in my top box. Got the bike going after the two bikes in front of me also started off again. My rear break felt funny as if my cylinder head was now much closer to the rear break. On closer inspection it was evident that the cylinder guard took the brunt of the fall and bent out of place. Well, this is what it is supposed to do. The ‘spares’ I picked up was in fact my own two rubber protectors on the inside of the cylinder guard. The temporary fix was easy – just a kick onto the cylinder guard and it moved closer to its original position.

Once inside the nature reserve the roads started becoming more challenging. A few more falls of my fellow riders on the way up wat the result of the range of challenges to overcome. A lady on an 800GS really impressed me. She had quite a few falls but every time just got up, picked her bike up and carried on as if it is the most natural thing to do. The tight turns and switch-backs was a real practical test of the recent training. We continued to the top next to the communication mast. I really needed some rest. My comfort zone was now shattered. We reached the top. John Carr was right.

After a short rest, rehydration and cooling off we started back down. I had to ‘Jimmy’ my bike from the parked position to get it facing downhill again (dam training). A curious thing of my bike, and I do not think this is a feature on all GSAs, is that it will not start if in gear – not at all. The engine will only turn if the bike is in neutral and side stand off. Arno had to assist with the gear to get me started again as I was on a very precarious position on the downhill. The downhill was very nice. Not at all as challenging as going up. The group kept together all the way with no further incidents.

We arrived back to Anura restaurant to find the level 1 and pillion riders all there already. Friend Sam was there but really looking the worst for wear. He told me he dehydrated and could not complete some of the activities. I also had to rehydrate as the ride took quite a lot out of me.

So, having done level 1 and level 2 in short succession, I think I can assist in answering the question on how soon can you do level 2 after having done level 1. I have to give credit to experience here and say that Danie’s (GeelKameel) input was spot on. Nothing beats experience and time in the saddle. John Carr’s input of “It takes you out of your comfort zone…” is also spot-on. If you are adventurous, just do it. Just know that your skills level will really be tested. You need to be able to practice what the trainers have taught you in both levels of training.

Was it enjoyable? Yes definitely! Was it the right decision? Yes definitely!

The training routes...

Joined: 2016/06/20

Hi Niël,

The problem with the bike not starting when in gear may be the clutch switch. Please have a look at the following:



carelvdmerwe's picture
Joined: 2012/08/16

Hi Niel

I've done quite a couple of level 1 and level 2 training days with the club. I try to do at least 3-4 a year. Apart from the fact that it is a nice experience and you learn a lot in a controlled and safe environment, you realize that you are becoming a better rider after each session and you get to know your bike and the most important part you get to know your skills and limitations. Sometimes you must get a bit out of your comfort zone to improve your riding skills and abilities.

I agree with GeelKameel... TITS (time in the saddle) is your best mentor. Know your limits, ride within them and go and explore some of the nice gravel roads with some friends, there are so many nice gravel roads right here on our "agter stoep" .

Soon you will be very comfortable on your machine and will be amazed what these bikes (and you) are capable of. 

Happy Riding

NielG's picture
Joined: 2016/06/17

Dankie Sam, jip, lyk na die microswitch. Part no 61317671111 vanaf BMW. Dankie vir die info. Sal hom vervang / regmaak.

NielG's picture
Joined: 2016/06/17

Thanks Carel, gewonder waarvoor TITS staan - nou weet ek.  smiley Will definitely do more riding in the near future.

NielG's picture
Joined: 2016/06/17

Just a report back on repair progress: I had the cylinder guard replaced @+-R1300. Luckily I kept all the screws and rubber items and could fit it back onto the bike. I also had the micro switch replaced (~R450) on the clutch handle, and yes, that was the culprit causing the bike not to start in gear with the clutch pulled in. The micro switch replacement is quite tricky, so have that done at the agents. So, all done and back as new.

Charles Oertel's picture
Joined: 2007/04/14

I replaced that microswitch on Mr.Badger some years ago.  The exact same switch from an establishment in Paarden Island cost me about R15 or so.

It is worth shopping around, and, if you are even slightly handy, fitting it yourself.

Committee: Webmaster / Ride Captain

Johan Gelderblom's picture
Joined: 2016/12/14

Thx for taking the time to share your story in such detail Neil, felt like i was there with you. yes

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