Sunday, 25 November 2012

Motorcycling - the cardigan years beckon

I've been riding motorcycles since I was eighteen and I see bikes as a part of who I am. They're the one part of my single life that has remained consistent through everything else that has happened, Yet my motorcycling life seems to have acquired a middle age of its own.
From the early days of riding everything as hard and fast as possible with little sense of my own mortality, through serious machinery that demanded serious respect if you wanted to be alive at the end of the ride, to now when I'm about to start sliding down the other side of the power curve towards the inevitability of a 250 or 125, It's proving to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
The single lad's era was a blur of mental two-stroke hooligan tools that were ridden not as transport but as an excuse to push the limits of physics, and to chase the next adrenaline fix.
With experience and time came the chance to graduate to big superbikes - horizon-seeking missiles that because of the accessibility of their outrageous performance tempt you into ridiculous situations. The ability to out accelerate any car on the road, powersliding out of corners, and all sorts of bad behaviour became the norm. I hit 170mph on the A11 between Newmarket and Barton Mills before chickening out despite the bike still pulling like a train, I was going everywhere between 100 and 140mph, even lane-splitting at 120mph. These things became so frequent that eventually I'd arrive at my destination thinking "How the hell am I still alive? That was crazy!"
So the superbike era had to end before I did.
A brief period of downsizing was followed by a three year break with no bike before the bug struck again. You can't help it, it becomes hard-wired into your DNA.
An unfaired 1200cc muscle bike was chosen with the theory being that top speed would be limited by comfort, which ended up being sort of true, but has also resulted in surprisingly strong neck and shoulder muscles.
Now comes the hard part. The body is writing letters of complaint to the brain telling it to stop being such a damn fool. Things along the lines of "you can't expect this little-bloke body to deal with the physical stress of riding something like this several times a week, get a grip!".
The brain listens to these comments and before I know what's going on the bike manufacturers websites are being scoured for bikes that weigh half as much and don't have the power to rip ones arms from ones torso.
There may be something to this. After all, who genuinely needs a tyre-shredding powerhouse when it only goes between home and work? There's certainly an appeal to the idea of something that weighs about the same as a tin of beans, does 100 miles per gallon and only needs new tyres when they're got hard and perished.
So there we have it. Current thinking says a brand new little bike in the spring is the sensible option. Perhaps then I'll be able to exercise the same restraint and sensible driving mode that I apply to driving the car, because when the performance potential isn't there it's far easier to relax and go with the flow.

Apologies for the lack of  funny bits this week, but I'm running short of inspiration at the moment. I ought to to make notes during the week when ideas occur to me and then I might have enough material without resorting to inane blathering.........