I woke up this morning, at stupid 6am on a Saturday, with a sudden dose of life panic. My brain (which we call Brian. Don’t ask) had decided that the first lay-in day of the week would be the perfect time to shake me awake before daybreak and tell me all the things that I need to start getting on top of before I have to move house at the end of October. Because, like, its nearly the middle of August and then it’ll be the middle of September and before you know it…. Gee, thanks Brian, now I have the collywobbles. And cant get back to sleep.
The next thing Brian did was point out that it’s a beeeeeeautiful day out there, imagine how gorgeous it’d be up on Gorge road… (Pardon the pun)
See, I have a habit of getting WAY ahead of myself in my head. And that translates to a sense of frustration in the immediate moment because I’m not there yet, and there looks soooo nice. But recent life lessons have been instructing me that young me needs to sit down and shut up, and I need to learn to actually behave like a grown-up, move a little more slowly, take my time, do things without rushing in like an optimistic bravado-fuelled bouncing blonde. So instead of grabbing my keys and rushing out the door on my poor little rattler, I am drinking coffee, and allowing the moments to come when they’re ready.
And while drinking coffee I thought “Dammit, I’m going to have to blog. Gah.” – Purely because I have nobody to talk to about this stuff. Now don’t go with the ‘Aw, sad lonely single chick’ thing. I’m not. I’m a happy single chick with plenty of people to talk to about other subjects. But the reason forums like this exist is because we all know, nobody who doesn’t have bikes in their blood really doesn’t care when you start going on about it.
As a newbie – and a still-nervous, still-wobbly-sometimes one at that, I have been really reluctant to claim myself as a rider. Because although I did mechanics at school, and have been around and on two wheels for 20 years, I have no idea how the fuel injection system works on a sports bike, I can only surmise the sense of the conversations veteran riders have about their monoshock, variable intake, or deltabox frame. I haven't taken one hairy twisty nor have I had a bee sting me, or a spider walk across my visor at 90kph. (the bike, not the spider) I don’t know this stuff yet. I have done many many thousands of Ks as a pillion, but pilot and owner is new to me. Am I a rider just coz I have my L’s? Hmmmm. Bit presumptuous of me.
So here’s a bit of history: Early teens was when it rose. Along with all the other itchy, scratchy, unusual new feelings that arrive when childhood starts leaving, came the irresistible realisation that those things with two wheels that smelled of….erm… courage (?) made my ears prick up and my tummy feel funny. First bf rode a CB250, and that was REALLY all he had going for him, but nevertheless I would climb out of my bedroom window at night to jump on the back and ride with him. First time I tried to ride a bike, it was that which took off down the garden towards the pond and ended up with me going one way, it going the other, and him yelling “My bike!!” (Yep, first comprehension of the priorities of a biker )
Realising that hanging out at the back of Pizza hut with the delivery boys and their NSRs and CBs was more fun than doing homework was the next way to end a promising academic career. And later, choosing as my local pub the place where dudes rode bikes and chicks had pink hair… Man, I could’ve been a human rights lawyer. But shit, music and engines and attitude are much much more fun.
Next was a 900 Ninja, and its owner. 2 years of biker festivals, run-what-you-brungs, rides up the country and unexpected wheelies to show off to schoolkids (Note: If you don’t tell your gf you’re going to do it, it doesn’t look cool. Not least because she goes from horizontal and screaming to upright and smacking you round the back of the head really fast), not to mention the six hour slog of a two hour ride because the rain came horizontally and it got real dark...
Another, a flash eejit who claimed to be a helicopter pilot (I never saw an helicopter) and thought he could revive a 10 year-dead riding ‘history’ by going out and buying a brand new GSXR. My Ninja guy could RIDE. GSXR guy could NOT. And I swear, sitting in a 5 mile tailback of crawling traffic behind him on that thing was the scariest bike experience of my life. The GSXR wants to go, the rider has no idea how to tame it, and we’re twitching and lurching lane filtering between big semis on a four lane motorway. I nearly said I’d walk the rest of the way.
Anyway, you get the drift. Bikes and guys. Guys and bikes. Some guys didn’t have bikes, but most did.
Then in 2009 I met an Aussie, sold off all my possessions and moved from the UK to Adelaide to marry him and live happily ever after. And bikes stopped there. Nobody he knew rode. I knew nobody at all… I became stepmum and band roadie and sensible office worker. But I had always said I would ride one day, and here in the land of huge wages and comfortable living I could do it. So at the end of 2014 I got a loan and went out and bought two things: a shoulder piece tattoo, and a Sachs 150.
I’m not the kind that likes to be watched while I learn, so the plan was to teach myself the basics in my huge back garden and deserted beachside streets (like, how to balance and move) and then go get my Ls once I knew I wouldn’t make a total tit of myself in the first five minutes. But she blew within two weeks (Kero in the sump) and I couldn’t afford to get her fixed. So she sat. We moved to the city, and she came along and sat - like a much much prettier garden gnome. All the time I was sure I’d get the money together soon to get her fixed and get my Ls. But weeks passed, expenses came up, I felt like that old couple in UP. And then the marriage ended. Money got tighter, and tighter… and one dejected November day I began to seriously consider the notion of putting her back on Gumtree. At a loss, of course (Now she didn’t even run!) but really, why was I keeping her? It was a stupid idea. A pipe dream from my teenage years. As if I was ever going to ride. Just a dream. I had bills to pay, and the money would be fkn useful. And hey, maybe when things improved….
I was probably about 5 days away from taking photos and opening the laptop, when in walked scumbucket. Or swaggered. Tall dark and handsome with his R6 purring and his spare jacket in his backpack. Of course, that didn’t end so well, but shit I’m glad he showed up. Because after six years I remembered what it was that makes my blood tingle more than anything else. And realised that it’s not stupid, and it’s not something I should play down or get over. It’s not a phase.
So. Getting to the point. (haha, sorry, this is a good two weeks backlog of NO bike conversation. I’ll become less voluble from here on.)
The point is that I joined Netrider because after scumbucket I realised I have to do this alone. Nobody to ask how to clean my chain. Nobody to show me how to get my effing stupid seat off. Nobody to ask when I get back from a trip to the shops and she slipped out of gear on the intersection and I had NO idea what to do…. I figured I could use some human voices to ask dumb questions to when I get stuck. But I really didn’t want to be part of a club. Or, at least not one that would have me as a member… ()
However, it’s nice here. And reading the blogs, and catching some banter, and just sort of hanging out (albeit virtually) with people who have bikes in their blood has made me realise: It isn’t a club, it’s a breed. And I’m part of it. I may be tentative, unschooled and scared to go up a hill but that’s just experience. When someone posts a photo of a roadside café on a sunny day with the perfect number of machines all leaning to the left in harmony, and baggy arse-and-kneed dudes lopsidedly standing about smiling, it makes my tummy flip. When the sun shines I itch to be on some difficult-as-shit-to-read dappled country road, ready to lean and then lean the other way, grinning. When I consider future me, she’s standing at the top of some magnificent escarpment (in Australia, ffs! I’m from Yorkshire!) with her lid in her hand, swigging from a bottle of water, flexing her knees and loving the serenity.
She can’t do it today, but there will be other beautiful days, loads of them, and she will.
Today’s impatience is for ignoring. I can send future me up to the Cudlee Café in my head, and now-me can work out how the hell to get the damn casing off the instrument panel so I can fix the speedo light. And go fuel up. For the first time. Ever. In any vehicle. (Scumbag filled June up about six weeks ago, and my short escapades since have been easy on the tank)
And tomorrow, tomorrow I WILL get up early and admire the sunshine and pick up my keys. Because I’ve remembered that one of the roads that lead off the Adelaide plain isn’t fast, or steep or bendy. So I’m going to take that and break the city boundary. And hopefully no part of me or her.
Ok, waffle done. I'm off to find a screwdriver with a short handle.