The Motorcycle Diaries Cont….
North of Glasgow, the roads are clean, tidy, windy, and course through the most beautiful scenery. Rocky striated mountains, dappled with heather; misty clouds rolling in the valleys below them. Little wonder that it is popular with motorbike enthusiasts. We witness full-kit tourers and dream it will be us. One day.
On our return journey we follow two Harley Ds. One rider is clearly more experienced than the other. A woman in a pretty pink helmet, blueberry coloured Dr Marten’s and matching new bike is closely following the experienced black silhouette. I learn a great deal about how dominant road positioning increases your safety, as the less confident rider disappears from view in her preference for close to verge positioning.
“If you overtook now, would you know that she was there?” I ask my partner. He says he can see the black silhouette, but Pink Helmet’s positioning isn’t helping her at all.
I’m riding that road in my head, and realise that it’s a habit. Need to make that habit a reality.
Inspired, we get on the bikes before it threatens to rain. I have a good run, feeling more comfortable and confident than I’ve ever been. There’s a junction with a tricky hill stop, it’s hard to get the bike into 1st gear before stopping. I stall. Undeterred, I decide to do that round again to get it right. I’m enjoying this. Not sure that my partner is. I persist in boring routines, he wants to give his bike a bit of welly!
Feeling good, I appease his desires and proceed to the wider road. We’re now confronted with higher traffic flow. I’m feeling fine until the bike decides that it doesn’t have a second gear, only neutral. This happened to me before and it’s scary, as when pulling out of a junction in first gear, you want to pick up speed reasonably quickly before anything runs into the back of you. When I’d learned on Suzu, neutral gear was the hardest to find, but I didn’t mind that problem. You’re usually stationary and not going anywhere when in neutral. But I’m greatly disliking this lack of getting into 2nd gear.
I put her away, put it down to inexperience and tiredness, and go out the next day. The problem doesn’t wait until the bike’s warmed up – my first attempt is a no-go. I’m unsure if this is lack of technique or the bike, so I persist in my efforts – mainly to keep my confidence up. I stick to the traffic free roads. Sometimes I have a troublesome free spell, then it’s nightmare time.
During my nightmare times, people don’t shout at me like I expect, but are surprisingly patient. I’m given space, someone shouts instructions out from a passenger window, and when I’m back on track again, other bikers give a friendly nod when passing.
Once home, I ring the place where I bought the bike. It’s still under warranty. They agree that they’ve experienced the issue from time to time when on that make of bike and are in general agreement that it is the nature of the beast. However, they suggested I bring it in for peace of mind, as sometimes small adjustments can make all the difference. In the meantime, they also suggested higher revs in 1st gear before attempting the change to 2nd. Give it a bit of welly! I’m wondering where that phrase came from.
I want to bring it in for checking, but I have a dilemma. The journey means two dual carriageways, a city circular and I’ll have to confront all my worst fears about British roads. And it may not go into 2nd gear when I need it to.
But I’m reading biker magazines, have a wallpaper on my desktop of my dream bike, WANT that licence before the end of the year, am checking out bike maintenance courses in our area, Scotland looks so much fun on two wheels …..
I’m a biker now!
So, I’ve gotta do it. I’ll do my best to give it a bit of welly.