It’s been an odd month in my little bubble. After getting my mind focused on finally booking and passing my test, I have been attempting to ride accordingly.
The first few days went swell, I rode around everywhere with minimal braking (i.e. looking ahead and not over-accelerating into a dead end). Then the weather broke for the better and I got an offer on my old bike. This caused a sudden dip in care for the old 125 and a sudden rush of bikers to play with.
Ride one was along the south side of the river from Tower to Vauxhall Bridge. Twanging my wrist with youthful elasticity I kept up with a Gixxer whose rider was visibly shocked to see me appear at one particular set of lights quite so soon. He didn’t like it much and made a few dangerous moves to press ahead, I sensed it was all about to go tits up so peeled-off and wiggled my way home.
This taught me it’s not all about the bike, if you want to go fast, you’ll go fast on anything. It also reminded me that strangers are exactly that, and you can’t take for granted that they will have the same level of self-preservation awareness as yourself.
Ride two was my regular short daily South Circular based commute, an hour earlier than usual. 7 o’clock is a lot quieter than 8 o’clock and I was in another world completely, shocking to admit but true. I was thinking about the day ahead, the evening after it and the day after. Thinking of everything that was on today’s life list… In fact I was thinking about everything except the task in hand! By the grace of Allah everyone around me seemed to be switched on, there were no opening car doors, no sudden right turns and no swinging blindly out of minor junctions.
Only after the obligatory morning fag and tea did I reflect how lucky, and how stupid, I had been that morning. Autopilot doesn’t count. There’s no point planning the day ahead, if you end up dead on the way in!
By ride three I was fed up. Here I was telling myself to ride as if in the test, when in reality I was tearing around like more of an arsehole than usual! I set off for an extended journey home, promising not to do anything that could be perceived as risky, stupid, unnecessary, selfish, naughty or any of the other words that are usually applied to 19 year olds on motorbikes.
Having had a horrible ride stuck behind vehicles I would usually manoeuver past, being ignored by drivers who shouldn’t see me for dust and feeling lower in the ranks than winter salt on the road I had a moment of clarity, clearly audible was the DING! of my next article forming itself!
I don’t need to ride like Mr Advanced Rider Training all the time. I am young and having fun. Being a stubborn goat I need to learn some things the hard way, and I am learning, every day.
I now feel, test or no test, the way I should be riding is safely, progressively and with a smile on my face. So what if every once in a while I leave a car driver red faced with anger, fuck ‘em! And so what if occasionally I end up looking a bit silly, stuck trying to squeeze between two vehicles, smile at ‘em! I’m still learning! We all are. Sometimes the magic works and sometimes the tarmac hurts, it’s a steep learning curve. As long as I reflect properly on my mistakes and turn experience into honed skills, I feel each day upright is a sacred one.