Sunday, January 11, 2009


Much to my mum and wife's disappointment, I enjoy a spot of two-wheeled conveyance. My wife thinks I got a motorbike by stealth. I had a knackered old Metro that wouldn't pass it's MOT if you got it reconditioned by Bugatti and then got Pimp My Ride to polish it and stick a Playstation 3 in it. And a fountain.

So, the car went off to the knackers yard and I was down a mode of transport. If you don't live in the UK, you might suggest public transport as a reasonable replacement, but for those of us that have to use it every now and then, it's like paying to be frustrated. Unreliable, expensive, dirty, inconvenient and 75 pee for a Kitkat. It's almost like they're trying to put you off. As an alternative to the car, well . . . it ain't.

I did notice that scooters were quite cheap and efficient, so I decided to purchase one forthwith and do the one day CBT test which would allow me to ride bikes up to 125cc. This was fun for a few months going to and from work, and I even did a trip or two to Birmingham and Oxford to visit mates. Of course, the first time I took it on the motorway I thought I was going to die. It reacted to a passing lorry like a kite in a typhoon.

After nearly a year, I thought it might be safer to do my full bike test (you can justify anything to yourself if you've got the motive). Then I would be fully qualified in the ways of the motorized velocipede. It was a four day course which I did, then took my test, then took it again after some idiot in a Toyota Bikerammer rear-ended me and knocked my L-plate off, passed it and immediately bought a medium-sized geared bike from a popular online auction website.

Apparently, that's stealth that is.
"You were only going to get a scooter."

Anyway, I've now owned a couple of bikes and am currenlty on my latest all-rounder, a 600cc Suzuki Bandit. Mine's the blue one with 2 headlights on the left:

One reason I like bikes is that they're far more fun to ride than driving a car. As Robert Persig notes in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (in which he rides far too slowly), you feel like you're actually part of the landscape, rather than simply driving through it. I think that's the best description of the feeling I've come across. Because of this, I took a trip with my mate on another Bandit through some conveniently available landscape. We chose Scotland because . . . well, we could ride to it. No boat or air trips required.

Obviously, Scotland has been on the receiving end of some divine biking intervention. It's scenic with roads that must have been created by a committee consisting of Thor, Odin, Freya, Apollo, Mars, Nut, Bastet, Bacchus, El-Dorado, Hanuman and Aeolu, although not Jesus because he was a hippy. There were forests and lakes, and single track tarmac roads with visibility you could measure in miles, and when you stopped for a hearty bikers snack of snickers and lukewarm coffee, there was almost perfect silence:

Even when it was cloudy, nature still made sure the cloud merely topped the peaks of nearby hills like a tasteful wig:

We were truly blessed, and I feel like saying that in the daft two-syllablled way that the devout prefer; we was bless-ed!

It was made extra special because we went in September and, apart from the odd drop of the wet stuff, we had perfect weather for the whole week, although a friend of mine who went on almost the same trip in August had to come home halfway through as they were rained out. With not a small amount of schadenfreude, I was pleased with our result.


  1. I have only been on a motorbike once and it scared the marrow from my bones. My chums have them and keep threatening to turn me into a biker chick (biker hen would be more apt), but apart from the Suzi Quatro look, I'm not sure what the appeal is.

  2. My wife works in a local hospital (MRI Tech) and heartily introduces motorcycle ER patients into any discussion on getting a motorcycle (she refers to them as, "donor bikers").

    So I am relegated to wistfully watching the throngs of those who, "Brave the elements, the wind in their face, the road behind, and the constant vibration beneath; the bikers and bikerettes of the world."


  3. dude, get a harleydavidson, talk about power I have only been on one, and man!!
    quite a bike I have heard bmw makes a good bike too

  4. You'll all have one eventually, as oil prices go up!
    MDF - Suzi Quatro is quite the Radio presenter in the UK these days, so it's all respectable now you know.

    UnderOvr - have a conversation with paramedics - you'll find a lot of them are bikers strangely.

    Neo - we call them HardlyDoAnythings in the UK. I do like them though!

  5. Apparently, you have yet to experience a little Road Rash. My bikin' days are long over though I do drool a bit when one goes by. I managed to survive the years when a motorcycle was my primary and then secondary means of transportation. The U forgot the part about the bugs in the teeth, the rain down the back of the neck, and the asphalt shredding the skin (part of what is left on the "road behind" is the "behind"). Still...

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