Have you ever seen the film? I recommend it.
I used to live in Ireland and cycled, walked or hitch-hiked everywhere. Then I moved to England, got on a bicycle, got to a main road and bottled it. As a pedestrian, I still cross roads at designated crossing points and have a general fear of traffic. I get nervy when as a passenger, especially when the driver thinks it’s ok to engage in eye-contact when they talk to me. Why is it all my friends are expressive gesticulators when talking?
I’ve never learned to drive.
I’ve vowed I never will.
You can imagine, then, my reaction to my partner’s decision (not suggestion) that a tourer in the form of 1600cc motorcycle fits all my criteria of a not-too-planet-damaging-means-of-getting-about-the-world.
“I thought the TranSiberian Express via Mongolia was a great idea.”
“You know that a 60 old woman traversed the globe on a bicycle – and what about that guy, who painted all the towns he’d ever visited all over his bicycle before it got stolen…..”
“Backpacks now come in personalised fittings, so you can handle the weight better.”
“Doesn’t Bolivia’s death road on mountain bike sound fun?”
Now, let’s go back to Ireland.
When you’re young and at yourself, as one of my Donegal friends used to say, hopping up on the back of your best mate’s motorcycle was a doddle. I even got on my brother’s little Honda 50cc and took off, not knowing how to stop.
Then I returned to England. Did a CBT (Compulsory Bike Training) on a 125cc, managed to pass, but then I was all by myself and encountered the Chainbar – a huge roundabout in West Yorkshire, where three motorways meet and lots of accidents happen. I came off it unscathed, but found my legs were shaking so much I had to stop to recompose. I shook all the way home and didn’t get on a bike again for an awful long time. That bike was a bit problematic too. It was an old Czech warhorse that greatly disliked idling in 1st gear.
A few years later, a colleague hassled me into buying his girlfriend’s bike and doing the CBT all over again. A lovely, new Honda 125cc. I managed to pass, and my colleague delivered the bike. But I lived on an unadopted road. That means, a road that is never attended to and was full of holes, rubble and sand. I heard him swear in a most ungentlemanly manner as the bike slipped and struggled around the potholes and on the rubble and sand. He came to no harm, but I just knew that I wasn’t even going to make it from my house to the road, a journey of about 100m. The bike was stolen and that was that.
Back to the present.
I’ve sat on the back of Beamer 1600 at the showroom. It’s very comfortable, feels very stable and I’m now the proud owner of BMW touring gear (ain’t Ebay great?) and Merlin ankle boots. Next step helmet and gloves.
We’ve since watched the Motorcycle Diaries, The World’s Fastest Indian, Charlie & Ewan in the Long Way Round and the Long Way Down and weekends are lovingly spent in bike shops.
And now I’ve set myself a challenge. To get a full biking licence.
I’ve talked at length with an instructor and have agreed I’ll need follow up lessons after the CBT to build up confidence. I could become 125cc proficient before moving up the scale. I can even take taster lessons before doing the CBT proper.
Now my partner is feeling the fear – he’s adding up the sums of having two bikes.
I’ll be keeping my motorcycle diaries in the sidebar – you’ll be able to follow the progress there. If I keep it public, I may just do it.
Featured Image: Face Your Fears by Saiyanwarriorcatgir