A brisk Wednesday morning and we set off from Herald HQ on the Brat 250X, London bound and excited to return to a vague sense of normality as pubs, restaurants & shops were allowed to open, despite only being outside it was a cause for celebration and a great excuse for a ride nonetheless.
We headed down to one of our favourite pit stops, The Bike Shed in Shoreditch London, last week to catch up with Rookie Rider Diary aka Ellie Portch and her Maverick 125cc Super-Moto with Pirelli Scorpion Trail II’s perfect for carving up the London city streets.
Ellie, who works at the Bike Shed as Global Partnerships Director, only recently commenced her motorcycle adventure after being inspired by the enthusiasm of colleagues and friends at the Shed. We sat down with Ellie over a large coffee or two and discussed her experiences on her adventure into the enticing world of motorcycles…
Q: Where did your interest in motorcycles first come from?
I don’t come from a family of petrol heads, but like a lot of people, I have always been intrigued by the lifestyle that surrounds motorcycles. From the music and movies to the art and fashion, there’s an edgy, rebellious streak that runs through it all and who doesn’t love that?!
Meeting Vikki definitely sparked my interest too. We met about 12 years ago when she was my Manager at a Publishing company. She used to ride her motorbike into work and I thought she was badass. She is even more so now!
Q: How did you find your CBT (Compulsory Basic Training)?
It was definitely challenging, but that was more down to the (hideous) great British weather and my nervousness in London traffic. In hindsight, I should perhaps have booked a date in Spring for the CBT, but instead I chose November. The instructors were very experienced and patient though and I passed, so it was a great day in the end.
Q: When did you first see Herald Motor Co?
It would have been at the Bike Shed Festival back in 2019. I had not long joined the Bike Shed at that point, and Herald had a presence at the event. The festival included a 125cc race and there were a few very good-looking Heralds whipping around the track! The Maverick is such a gorgeous bike. Perfect height, perfect look, perfect ride for a Rookie like me, love it so much!
Q: How have you found learning to ride a motorcycle in London?
The CBT was definitely an eye opener. The traffic in London can be pretty overwhelming when you aren’t used to it and I still need a lot more practice to improve my confidence on that front.
I’m lucky to have ridden a few times with some experienced colleagues though, who have given me tips and helped me to look out for some of London’s unique hazards. During one ride out to Epping Forest, Dan attached a Bluetooth earpiece to my helmet that meant I could chat with him all the way. It was super helpful having him talk me through certain road situations. He also sang to me a few times which also made the ride pretty entertaining!
Q: What has been your favourite experience on two wheels so far?
Getting some Rookie Rider tuition with Stew on the Bike Shed camping trip last year was awesome. Also doing my first “long” ride to Epping Forrest with Dan was a proud moment because I had been pretty nervous before we set off.
Q: Do you have any more motorcycle adventures planned?
Absolutely! I’m excited to get out on the bike more regularly now that summer is approaching.
My motorcycle theory test is booked (I’m keeping the date on the down low in case I flunk it!) and I am starting to look at options for taking my full test later in the year. There will be lots more time and practice needed on my Maverick before that happens though.
Q: What advice would you give to people who are thinking about learning to ride?
There’s no shame in feeling nervous or apprehensive about it because it can be daunting, but there’s also no time like the present, so book that CBT in! And, if you need any advice or inspiration to get started, just head down to the Bike Shed where you’ll be in good company.
As the sky’s began to cloud and rain started to fall, in true British fashion, filling up our empty coffee cups we called it a day with a covid safe elbow bump, put our lids on and hit the road.
If you would like to follow Ellie’s two wheeled adventure, make sure to head over to Instagram and follower her @RookieRiderDiary!