Friday, 10 July 2009

Tales from the Academy – bicycle drill

Whenever possible everything at Sandhurst was accomplished by some sort of drill. It's the military way!

One of the lesser known aspects of the course was Bicycle Drill which had connotations of Cavalry drill, particularly in terms of mounting and dismounting in formation (bikes, not horses!) It was conducted seriously and correctly on the parade ground.

The fun really began when the formation of bikes was allowed to break out into a lesser, semi-disciplined company heading across country to the firing ranges.

At this time the eagle eyes of the accompanying instructors – Warrant Officers and senior NCOs – were less eagle-like and, particularly when bikes were travelling at speed, entertainment could be engendered by inserting a stout stick between the spokes of a colleague's wheels.

This stage of bicycle drill also provided an opportunity to discriminate between those who had long been accustomed to riding bikes before entering the Academy and those who had not. Those cadets whose privileged backgrounds had not alerted them to two-wheeled transport and who, indeed, were rather more used to four-legged mounts or comfortable cars, proved to be rather vulnerable both on the parade ground in tight formation and even more so when freewheeling. They were immediately noticeable by their inability to proceed in a straight line, the wavering, zigzag forward motion of their mounts becoming increasingly exaggerated until at last they fell off, with or without assistance.

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