A recent excursion led me down a path, which having emerged the other side unscathed, gave me a lot to think about, biking and otherwise.
Last month I was Billy Big Bollocks, no theory test but a lovely ride and king of my little jungle. This month, I set off a lot later, was a lot less prepared and ended up, to be honest, scared and alone!
I hop on the bike for a weekend of gayness and tomfoolery, having done the basic checks. Oil, chain, brakes, tyres, brake light, and off I popped. It is halfway there and halfway dark before the first car flashes me. I wonder what that’s all about? By the third I have pulled into an Esso garage.
On close inspection I realise I have no light coming from the front of my motorcycle, not a glint. With no loose or dodgy connections to point the finger at, I use a combo of ill-fitting screwdrivers and an oyster card to remove the headlamp.Both pilot and main bulb have blown,must be that dodgy earth I never sorted out last time the bike got wet and did this…
After scouring the shelves of two big petrol stations for either of the bulbs I needed, a torch, a new headlamp, hell even a candle, and finding nothing, I gingerly limped the bike into the next village.
I felt in a real fucking pickle, 40 narrow winding miles till a beer andwarm up – with no light, facing certain near collision. You can imagine how my whole body relaxed when I saw a bike shop with a light on, at 7.30! What a touch o’ luck. Turned out to be a dead lead, and the owner wasn’t in the verylocal pub next door, whose barmaid wasn’t in the least bit impressed that I, with my big town ways, had assumed he would be!
One of the locals in there was just about not inbred enough to help me out, he said that the old boy who runs the petrol station at the end of the village might be able to help me. Off I set again, hoping from the soles of my feet upwards that this distant bloke was still there and that he might have some sort of light. Just as I started thinking I had been conned and the half decent bloke was as much a swine as the rest of them in this League of Gentleman place were, it appeared. A proper, old, petrol station. Complete with ageing Landrover and a leaded pump. I knew what he was going to saybefore he opened his mouth, “I’m sure I can find something.”
He dug out an indicator bulb to replace the pilot, and was just setting to a Volkswagen bulb with the snips using mine as a pattern,when I overpaid him and got out of there. It’s not that I didn’t trust his home made bulb idea, it was just that a pilot light and what little sky light there was left seemed better than waiting until it was pitch black to find myself in the same position.
It seemed to me the biking gods shined on me with a twisted fairness, “No light? Have some easy roads,have a kind driver behind you, have easy directions to follow. Got your pilot light, here, have some twists, turns,no drivers ANYWHERE and sudden junctions.“
It was hairy at best; it was Calvin Klein pebble-dashingly terrifying at worst. Once I had signs pointing me to my destination, a wave a relief hit me and I felt the familiar feeling of a good lesson being learnt.Forget my bullshit in past articles, here are a few home truths I sussed out as I thawed out that night.
There is no cure for proper cold. Being in unfamiliar areas makes it much harder (go easy on out of town-ers on my home turf).Out of town, lights are very important. On ALL journeys, it really isn’t about A 2 B ASAP. Check all bulbs and fix all recurring problems before a long journey. And crucially, don’t give it the “Big-Boy Biker”, be a humble biker boy. You have a lot to learn and hopefully a long time to learn it. Out in the sticks, you ain’t got shit but your wits and what’s under your dick, so they better both be in top condition!
The Boy Biker