ALERT readers will, I hope, recall my recent enthusiasm for the Swedish bike clothing at which I threw several hundred pounds with the aim of commuting by motorcycle through the autumn and winter. Experienced bikers among you will similarly recall thinking: “Good luck with that, Guthers.”

Inevitably, with weather such as we have been enduring lately, my Halvarssons jacket dangles from a coat-hanger in the bathroom. Likewise the trousers. My helmet sits on the tiled floor next to the rucksack, while a pair of winter gloves grip the radiator, primed to accommodate a willing pair of hands yet unlikely to locate any.

Ho-hum. The circumstances take me back to my initiation into the world of motorcycling early last year, reminding me how far I have come. From having zero miles under my belt I have clocked up around 3000 on a bike I bought 11 months ago. I’ll repeat what I’ve said before: learning to ride a motorcycle is one of the best things you can ever do.

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This year I elected to acquire an equally dangerous but much less pulse-raising skill. Developing the confidence and ability to pilot a sea kayak has reminded me of the unpredictability of the learning curve. Put simply, you screw up a lot, early on. When you begin to notice a decrease in the number of times you screw up, you know you’re getting somewhere. But the path from the first stage to the second can be extraordinarily frustrating.

In the case of sea kayaking, the rescue techniques for which our class studies in a swimming pool, you spend more time in the water than out of it. However this then forces you to improve at a vital skill: getting back into your boat. Two steps forward, one step back, but progress nonetheless.

The first few times I rode a Suzuki 125 at the bike school I attended in Paisley, the fundamental concept of rolling the throttle towards you to apply power and away to perform the opposite function took time to bed in, shall we say. I remember with alarming clarity one occasion while still practising in the school’s enclosed yard when I rammed the machine brusquely into the mesh fence, my heart rate off the scale as the instructor assured me nothing was broken other than my confidence.

Soon after, out on the streets, I reacted to my instructor’s request to pull over – relayed by radio to an earpiece – by losing all sense of who and where I was, propelling the machine up on to the pavement before stalling. Fortunately we were in a dead-end at a newly built roundabout, where nobody and nothing could revel in my incompetence.

Did I learn how to control a motorcycle? You bet.

But perhaps the most salient lesson I learned took place before I’d even sat on a bike. “In what weather do motorcyclists have to be extra careful?” asked Alan, the instructor. The answer, he revealed after a period of dead-eyed silence from the motley gathering of cadets before him, is high winds, heavy rain, fog and ice and snow. Pretty much all of which we have had in the past month. “When it’s bad, get the train,” he counselled.

Roger. Wilco. Lesson learned.