An expected phone call wakes me out of the focus I had on the relative merits of an essay about treating schizophrenia. I run downstairs excitedly, and there she is, shiny, immaculate, brightly dressed in red: Yami. I want to hug her, but there were the essentials to sort out before I could claim her.
New Chapter of the Motorcycle Diaries
Yami is my new Yamaha YBR125 engine on two wheels. After Suzu, you can see how imaginative I am with names. The next will be Beamer. We sort out the paper work, run through all the different features of the bike, set her on her stand and lock her up. A few minutes later, she’s taxed, insured and ready for the road.
I live on a car park. It’s not as bad as it sounds, it guarantees us a locked compound for the vehicles at night and no-one seems to notice a great big Georgian former manor, so it is more private that it would appear. Even when you tell people exactly where it is, they still struggle to see it. I’d go into the psychology of it, but that’s a whole other post.
The advantage of living on a car park is that you have space to practise when all the cars have gone home. The problem with this particular car park is that it has a rugged slope.
It’s evening, the cars have gone home, I don the kit, sit on the bike and find ‘bite’. Despite the upward incline, Yami pulls away smoothly and I circle the yard, slipping Clutch, gentle on the back brake when needed, feeling in control, even when the bike threatened to run away down the hill. Figures of eight on a slope? Why not? Not so tight as on the flat, but yeah, there we go. Oh, I’d learned so much. Yami and I get on like a house on fire.
I go back to circles, and think about the next stage of my former training. I begin to plan what I need to do for simulating a right turn. I think about the gear change procedure and whilst thinking and planning and thinking, the bike is running out of power and slowing to a dangerously off-balanced position. I rev the engine, but nope, that doesn’t work, as I’ve such good control of the clutch, it’s nicely slipping. I realise that I’ve still got my foot on the brake, and that’s why we’re not moving.
Too late, she topples, I try to stop her, but we’re on a left-leaning slope and she goes past that point of no return. So do I.
Should have put on the hip protecting trousers part of the kit after all. Nice purple bruise and a broken clutch lever serve as trophies for surviving the fall. I’m grateful for the crash bar addition, it saved Yami from bruises too. Unlike her, I have to avoid the foetal position when trying to sleep.
Something we weren’t taught at bike school: how to pick up the bike after falling off it. I suppose it doesn’t serve their interests to have all their students dropping their bikes to find out. I don’t like feeling like a weak woman, I even became a karate black belt to avoid it, but you get older and less proud, so someone nearly a foot taller and at least 4 stone heavier is called to the rescue. I’m scolded for dropping the bike.
And he told me that he’d be worried about me… huff.
I get back on again, and repeat what I’m doing to overcome the crisis of confidence and put Yami away for another day.
The advantage of this particular car park is that you don’t have to use it. It has a smaller, but FLAT overspill area. Myself and Yami go there. We doddle around, doing our figures of eight and I get used the indicators without having to look. There’s a longer stretch of tarmac leading up to the overspill, so I take advantage of the opportunity to change gears.
Except I can’t.
No matter what kind of contortion that I put my foot through, I cannot get my toe under the lever to shift into 2nd gear.
Yami’s put away for another day.
I google – as ye do – to find out how to adjust the lever to a height more suited to my foot. I find out how to do it on Honda, but Yami doesn’t have the same bolts in the same places. There’s ambiguous advice on forums. I know the dealer I bought it from would fix it for me, but I can’t get there unless its fixed. And I can’t fix it unless I get there.
I get there. On a bus, and I make them do an in showroom demonstration of how to do it on a black version of my bike.
I can now change gear.
Yet Another Day
It is 6:15 am, there is less traffic at this time of day. I don my kit, I look at the hip protecting trousers and put them on. I take them off again. I want to feel comfortable and I don’t like how the knee protection sits. Some people never learn. I settle for head, chin, elbow, shoulder, back and ankle protection.
Today is left-hand turn route. On another day, I’ll do it right-handed. I take Yami to the edge of the road, ready to turn right. I have to ‘omm’ or something similar to calm my mind. We set off. No problems, she’s warmed up and behaving. Parked cars up ahead, mirror check, lifesaver check, pull out into a dominant position on the road. Car keeps distance behind me. Down hill, gentle brake control, easy left on the roundabout, get some speed on the Lichtenstein Link, turn left and long stretch to enjoy before the traffic lights ahead. I prepare to stop and block change down to first gear. Then I realise they are actually green, lose that element of concentration and as I turn, try to shift into 2nd, she goes to neutral. I keep calm, back to first and try again. We’re on an uphill, this isn’t good, I see a car coming up behind me.
We make it. Second, third, next set of traffic lights. They are red this time and I have time to compose myself after the fault. But darned if I don’t meet the same problem again. I cannot get from first to second without it slipping into neutral. Eventually it sticks and I arrive home, puffing and panting more than if I’d run a couple of miles, wondering why I ever thought this was a good idea.
Yami’s put away for another day.
Adrenaline fixed and buzzy, I talk a million miles an hour about the experience and gain an insight while doing so. Verd’s a step ahead of me in the training and it happened to him when he took Yami out for a trip, but he soon overcame it. Google has revealed that we’re not the only beginners who experience this on this particular bike. But there is a knack to it. I just have to get the knack.
Meanwhile, I’ll stick to the left hand turning route.