1 day in 2014 that was mine.........
It’s there, the tank is full and the oil is checked and it waits for me. Other parts of life are getting in the way and ruining the promise of freedom and it just waits. It’s like an itch in the back of your mind, something that occupies part of your conscious thought, and a kind of sanity in a life so ordinary. I need to have earned this trip, I need to know that all is well and that my mind is in the right place to ride. This is different than commuting, where the necessity is there, this is me time and the bike is calling.
All is done in the house and I get myself prepared, a little ritual in itself. Helmet, jacket, trousers, gloves ,& neck tube all removed from their resting place and I dress. Finally I make sure that I am feeling comfortable. I move the bike from the darkness of the garage into the daylight and still get that feeling………is it anticipation or like meeting up with friend? I look at the tyres and then place the key to it’s home. I swing my leg over and settle into position and the familiarity sweeps through me and makes me smile. Key turned, and the ignition sweeps and bleeps to life, and I hit the button. The bike shudders and draws a breath and fires into life, twitching to the right then roars from the exhaust back at the garage……….'I am free'.
I pull in the clutch and we ‘clunk’ into first gear and pause at the end of the drive. Here we go, I have a smartphone with GPS, Bluetooth, and all of the latest news, weather, who cares, I am going to point the bike and go and get lost out there. That first movement forward then down the road and scanning the area within the confines of the housing estate. Looking at the brick and concrete we reside in and the four wheeled metal boxes parked everywhere, I look for risks, children behind cars, reverse lights, animals etc and I wonder, what makes a GRiSO so different? I leave the houses behind and head out onto a local A road and then a twist of the wrist tells me why as the Green verge by my side begins to blur. I feel the rush of air on my face and the pushing of it on my chest and I feel very much alive.
I have been riding for about an hour and I am in the Cotswolds somewhere near Broadway and I am not worrying about anything other than I have enough fuel….. I pull over to the side of the road and lay the bike to rest on it’s stand. I can hear the engine plinking/talking to me saying ‘’that was good, but let’s keep going’’. As usual I run through the ride in my mind, what a great corner 2 miles back, sweeping with a perfect camber that just asked you to return and play in the other direction. Oh and Ian – you went a bit too hot into the corner before that and you got the line wrong on the one before ‘’ this is no video game it’s life you know’’. Yes I know, I say to myself – it’s just a warning to keep you in touch with reality.
Why am I standing here looking at my bike ?– on we go. And on we do go, mile after mile looking on through the corners and pushing onto the next with an unknown road opening up in front of me revealing its secrets. These are not always welcome ones, like gravel or drain covers but then that is all a part of it isn’t it? The whole challenge of riding within your ability even though sometimes you push that to the edge. Manners are manners and a bike will put them into you by degrees. The best of which are a twitch on the wheel as it loses grip then regains and the worst of it being…….yes we all know about that one. So just when you can feel like the master of the road, a snatch of vunerability will jump out and say – ‘’Hi, I am waiting for you to mess up’’ no hurry, I am always ready for your bad decision, or error of judgement’’. We will see what the punishment is?
Then I see another bike. Hey, you are like me out here and away from it all, you get it don’t you?!?! And they nod as I nod and we share that moment of a place and a time and the acknowledgement of it. I throttle back a bit a just take in where I actually am. Looking at some of the villages and thinking , yup, I could live here and looking at the lanes leading off from side to side and missing my CR250 with dreams of a house near a pub, near a lane, and a garage full of all the bikes to take part in that drama.
Eventually I reach a point where I roughly know where I am and find somewhere to fuel up. I avoid any pubs and buy myself some Lucazade at the garage to quench my thirst. A guy on the next pump smiles at me in a knowing way and says ‘great day for it!’ – I nod and smile between gulps and consider to myself that it surely is. Good old brits, we love our Cliché’s and talk about the weather.
Self restraint………….. on the way home a great road [A423 South towards Banbury] there were a few other bikes on the last leg of the journey. I overtake one after observing him. I like to do this, follow at a distance and also make sure that me being behind is not affecting his or her riding style as I have seen people react badly to other bikes being behind them. We move on for about 2/3 miles and I feel it is time to pass. I calmly wait until the road is right and give a wide berth and he nods as I pass and I raise my hand once safely in front. [Nice bike GS800]I then just forget him and ride, I like this road and it points me home. After about another mile I come across a ZX7 and a ZRX1100 and we have a bit of a blatt between A roads, roundabouts, and dual carriageways. The aftermarket exhaust on the 7 is howling in front of me and bringing memories of earlier years. Quite quickly though, I can see that this could all go wrong with the rider on the ZX7 making some decisions that seem strange to me personally or I was putting him in a bad place? I back off, change my head and saunter.
The bike purrs through Banbury following a Police car [ why do I feel guilty when near one ]my exhaust is legal but still I worry. I make use of some filtering and it only takes about 5 minutes to get through town. The last stretch is quiet and we stretch our legs for the last time. Yes Ian. You ‘know’ this road – but of course I don’t, remember your manners. I finally reach home. She shruggingly moves across the gravel towards the garage doors ands whispers in my head saying stay out a bit longer - - I can light the way in the darkness too. I place the bike in the garage and wipe the unlucky insects from the screen. I walk around and check the bike for anything that could be an issue and satisfy myself that all is well. I close the doors with last glance and padlock them.
And now she waits………………..