Doris went as quickly as she came and the next day brings sunshine and gentle breeze. I take The Destrier out of the garage and sit on her, in full kit. This is the day I worked for.
Bye Bye, Suzi. It’s nothing personal, honest.
I switch on the engine, and play with the indicators until I can use them without looking. I change from neutral to first to second and back again. I’m wearing new boots – they give me the height to cope with the extra hands on this horse. I’m aiming for seamless synchronisation. I do the same with the back brake, I’m on a bit of an incline, I let the bike roll back and I make sure I can find that pedal with ease.
Someone asks me if I’m ok. I explain my process. He approves of the process and moseys on. When the bike is almost back in the garage again, after all this roll, brake, roll, brake, I realise that I can’t keep playing idly with my new toy, but have to go and ride it. This is the day I worked for.
I plan a short spin around the block. That’ll be enough to start with.
I find that bite in the clutch and we’re moving. It’s a one way system, so there’s no going back. I round a tight corner and pull in to the curb to breathe. That wasn’t so bad. I change my mind about where I’m going as I remember the bad gravel on that stretch of road. I’m still aiming just to go around the block, but once I manage a right-hand turn at a set of traffic lights, I keep going. I have no idea why, but we just keep going.
Two hours later, I’m home again and quite pleased with myself, as although I stayed on roads I know, I met a diversion and it was quite an adventure getting back on track again.
The Destrier is a nimble beast for its size and weight. Obstacle avoidance is simply fun – you can throw her wherever you like and she obeys so quickly that I was winding between utility covers and pot holes just for the hell of it. Boy, does she want to go. In 30 mph zones I have to keep reining her back. Slow down buddy, I’m only allowed 6 points on my license in the first two years. On 50 mph roads with bends, she’s showing me what she can do. I like.
Today, Verd announces we’re going to Cracoe. There’s a cafe there where other BMW riders meet. It’s north of where we live and promises good views. The cafe is attached to a farm shop too, so I agree, as long as we get out in the morning, as the afternoon is promising high winds.
The ride goes well, but due to nerves, I’ve been gripping those handlebars just a bit too tightly. I suggest to Verd that we pull in once we’ve passed the town we’re in.
“How about that lay-by coming up?” I ask.
He goes on past it. I curse.
He pulls into the one after that and I follow.
“There’s a reason I don’t want to stop here that you’re about to find out.”
The penny drops.
We’ve now got to pull out back onto a dual carriageway with traffic at 70 mph. Not a move to mess up.
New hurdle jumped. There is a benefit to the extra power of this bike.
Coming off the main road into a country road I worry I’ve gone too fast and that I’m going to go so wide I’ll be visiting oncoming traffic – but as I said, she’s nimble and I’ve learned to look where I’m going rather than at the potential crash I’m going to have. I breathe again, and come over a hill and wow, what a view. Yorkshire is splendid when it’s not raining and you can actually see it.
Breakfast is served all day at Cracoe, I enjoy a pot of tea and scrambled eggs on toast. I swear, they must have used half a dozen in that meal. I don’t usually struggle in finishing a meal, but I did this one. We have a nice chat with a cyclist who seems to cycle further than we go on our bikes. He’s not looking forward to the ride home, the winds have arrived early. Soon the entire cafe is embroiled in the same conversation. Sometimes it’s a surprise to meet ‘friendly’.
We’re riding home and feeling the impact of those winds. It is somewhat unnerving to find you’ve shifted a metre left or right and back again, but bends are nothing short of terrifying when you’re leaning and the wind starts to catch.
I think Verd is as pleased as me to get back home again. I’m exhausted and we ponder how we’re going to cope if we plan to do 500 km in one day. At least it’ll help us to get a good night’s sleep in a tent. I’m thinking that we’ll have to get a couple of flasks and easy access healthy snacks for the regular pitstops we’re going to need. What can’t be fixed by a hot cuppa and food?
BMW sales ring to check if I’m happy with the bike. I am very happy, but ask if it’s possible to make an adjustment to the back brake, either that, or I’ll have to magic my feet bigger. My next trip will be to their workshop.