When I grow up I want to be a motorbike stunt rider

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When I was 17 all I wanted was a motorbike.  However, an over-protective father put paid to my ambitions to be a stunt rider, and bribed me with car driving lessons and the promise of help with funding for a little run-around when I passed the test.   Initially he’d tried to teach me himself but not being a patient person and loving his car a little too much, the plan was doomed to fail.  One day, out on a family trip, he decided to give me a lesson.  The more he shouted the more stressed I became until I started to forget even the basics.    The end came for us all, when after forgetting to put on the brakes on few times (quite important really) and being berated for it over and over again, I stopped on a hill.  We started to roll backwards, the whole family shouted “handbrake” at the same time, my father hit the roof and I got out of the car in a huff.               

Having never got over my love of motorbikes I still dreamed of owning one.  One day I was driving on the motorway and had a near miss when a van driver cut me up and I had to hit the brakes (see I did get it right in the end!)    Realising that braking was not going to prevent me rear ending him at 70 miles an hour I swerved to the right and then back again as I nearly hit cones closing that lane off.   Luckily the motorway was empty, so I didn’t hit anyone else has the car veered.  The moment I gained control of the wheel, a voice in my head said:-

“Well you nearly died in a car so you might as well buy a bike”. 

Clearly I was in shock, but 2 months later I’d passed my bike test and was the owner of a second-hand Honda Scorpion 2500 cc motorbike.   Never having been shopping for a bike before, I had no idea what to look for and ended up with a monster, albeit a pretty one.   It was metallic silver with black trim and a black scorpion on the tank.  The engine was in good nick and the pipes gleamed silver.  It had a start button (always a plus), the mileage was low and that’s about all I understood.  What I overlooked was that it was way too heavy and too high for me.   Because my feet didn’t touch the ground I had to tilt the bike about 20 degrees when I stopped in order to do so.  The only problem with that was that due to the weight I couldn’t hold the bike up and had a tendency to drop it when I came to a standstill.   I then struggled to pick it up again and normally had to ask for help.  One time, I was trying to turn right, had to stop and the bike keeled over onto the road.   Jumping clear as it fell I then tried to lift it up – no chance.  Two concerned pedestrians ran into the road to help.

“Are you hurt?” they asked

“Just my ego” I replied

I lowered the shock absorbers after that and it helped, but I still had problems getting onto the bike with my leathers because they were so tight.  Imagine a 5ft 2″mini Michelin woman trying to get her leg over a huge motorbike, leathers creaking and straining, without success.  She proceeds to unzip and unbutton trousers, coat, boots, mount the bike, perch precariously on top of it and re-zip everything up again with difficulty.  It became a ritual that the neighbours found hugely entertaining.      

Getting somewhat fed up with being main attraction in the neighbourhood when I mounted up and being unimpressed with the weight trainer muscles developing in my arms I decided that the time had come for a change.  Being a little wiser and more knowledgeable about motorbikes I went out to look at some Retro, low centre of gravity machines.   For some reason, which probably included the word men, my housemate decided to tag along.   We visited one local bike shop where the tough and rough hang out.  Whilst I was asking questions about a particular bike I was interested in Rachel gave me shout.  I looked around and she was perched on a Suzuki Bandit

“Do you think it suits me?” she asked whilst looking coyly at a leather clad biker, who totally ignored her being far too besotted with his Ducatti 916 (which is the Angelina Jolie of motorbike world).  

Giving up all hope of not getting ripped off,  thanks to bimbo woman,  we left.

One of the interesting things about buying a motorbike was the reaction of my friends and acquaintances.   At the time I was working with a Carers Project and most of our clients were over 65 years old.  Whenever I mentioned my bike, instead of the expected intake of breath and words of disapproval, most of them went misty eyed and waxed lyrical about their youth and the bikes that they‘d owned.   In those days people bought bikes not cars, as they were unaffordable.   Whereas, my peer group (who you’d  imagine to be a little more liberal in their thinking)  were , in the main, shocked and constantly going on about the danger’s.  They started to sound like my father who, when my sister knowing that he’d never stop nagging took her motorbike test on the QT, bought a very nifty trials bike and finally told him a few years later, never gave it a rest.  Having listened to the constant haranguing about the foolhardiness of my sister in her choice of transport, I decided not to tell my father of my newly acquired license and bike.

 It’s now 25 years later and he still doesn’t know.

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