Friday, 7 July 2017

Appropriate Clothing

I'm very wary about writing this following a massive amount of abuse received when the subject has been broached before. However, as I become somewhat of an elder statesman in this pastime of ours I feel an obligation to pass on knowledge.

I have been asked before by what authority or qualification do I make these comments so let's tackle that one right here and now.  My authority comes from my being an old git with a high degree of concern for my fellow man and in particular my fellow bikers.  My qualification is the amount of time I have spent on the roads on two and four wheels, the number of accidents I have been witness too and the number of friends I have lost. My concern is genuine and I have your best interest at heart. You don't have to like it, you don't have to follow it but you ignore me at your peril and in the full knowledge of the consequences.

This is all prompted by one of the worst case of stupidity I have ever seen from a biker. Yesterday as I drove from Harrogate back to my home in Hampshire I saw a young biker on a sports bike on the M1 motorway wearing nothing more than helmet, shorts and trainers. The temperature was around 32 degrees Celsius so I can understand the motivation but seriously, we were on a road with multiple road works taking place so there was gravel being thrown up and the road surface was less than perfect. My blood ran cold.

If you understand the point I'm trying to make then no explanation is necessary. If you don't get it then no explanation will be sufficient.

Let me leave you with this thought.

Flesh erodes at 10mm per metre as you slide down the road.

If you going to dress in this manner please do somewhere I'm not. If I never see another accident it'll be too soon and I never want to see another dead biker. Wear proper kit and tilt the odds in your favour as far as you can.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

What if you couldn't ride ?

A strange thing to ponder perhaps but what would you do if you couldn't ride ?  This somewhat maudlin line of thinking has been brought on by a couple of unconnected events over recent months that have given me cause to consider this rather unpleasant prospect.

The first was when a man I have great respect for announced that he was selling his beloved cruiser because a few incidents had dented his confidence.  Now I can understand where he's coming from given his misfortunes on motorcycles leading to the loss of a leg as a result of an accident.  Since then, despite numerous set-backs including suffering from PTSD, he has achieved so much.  Getting back on anything resembling a motorcycle was a remarkable achievement, progressing from a trike to two wheels was nothing short of miraculous and worthy of great respect and admiration.  However, a couple of incidents with motorists, not of his making, have had a profound affect on his outlook leading to his giving up on motorcycling.  There's no criticism implied or otherwise just a sad reflection on the outcome of unfortunate events that have led to a treasured friend giving up a much loved activity.

Then there's myself.  For a few years now I have had the dubious pleasure of suffering from gout.  This came about following much surgery as a result of injuries sustained in non-biking activities.  Through careful doctor guided experimentation I now have a regimen that has meant I haven't suffered an attack for a while now. But then the weather changed rather rapidly.  In case you don't know gout is a form of arthritis and is usually brought on by an excess of purines in the diet.  However, it is arthritis and in my case I have noticed that rapid changes in barometric pressure can also trigger great miscomfort...and that's where I find myself today and why I am pondering this uncomfortable question.

So what would you do if you couldn't ride.  I'm at a loss for an answer, I really don't know, but I do know that something I hold very dear and enjoy beyond words would be missing from my life. There would be a huge void that would need to be filled by something, but what ?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

What is it to be a biker ?

I've been reading a few things in the biking press and on Facebook recently about what makes you a biker. There was a response in one online magazine to a letter from one reader who dismissed all biking activity beyond that involving metric cruisers, there are numerous pieces that seem to dismiss people as bikers if they don't ride in all weather or belong to a club. To be honest I'm starting to get a little hacked off by it all, a bit like to editor of the online magazine. So, let's consider what it is to be a biker.

I agree totally that all who ride bikes are not bikers. It goes beyond the physical act of riding a motorcycle to be a considered a biker but does it mean you have to belong to a club/gang or ride in all weather or ride a certain type of motorcycle. In my considered opinion it absolutely does not. So what is it that makes a biker. One of the things that makes motorcycling so appealing is the community. It is true that no matter where you go in the world, if you ride a bike then you have friends and there will be someone you can rely on to offer help should you need it.  This is special and an almost unique feature of bikers. You never pass a fellow biker who has broken down even if you just check they're OK. We look out for each other, it's a brotherhood, it doesn't matter if you know the other personally, the fact that they ride a bike is enough.  The bike they ride is irrelevant, scooter, small bike, big bike, cruiser, sports bike, tourer, they all have two wheels and that's all that matters.  It's the very diversity that makes riding bikes so compelling. It doesn't matter if you're a weekend warrior or if you ride every day in every weather. It's your way of thinking and the way you act that makes you a biker, nothing else. 

In my experience there are many people riding bikes who wouldn't stop to help a fellow rider, who don't partake in the community. These people may well ride a lot and may ride in all conditions but they are riders, not bikers. It may be a sweeping generalisation but my observation is that they are largely, but not exclusively, from the younger generations. I don't want to tar all with the same brush, there are many older bikers who look down on those riding 125s or scooters forgetting that we all started there, they're not bikers either, but as a rule it does hold true and is a reflection of a wider social trend. I'm happy to say though that I have come across a number of noticeable exceptions to that rule which is encouraging. 

I guess the most important thing is to realise that we all have different motivations and reasons for doing what we do. It doesn't make us right or wrong, just different. Can't we just accept that and get on with it. Why do we all have to comply with a single set of rules, why can't we just live and let live. I know what I think is important and what I hold dear about riding bikes. I also accept that others may have different ideas that don't fit my ideal and that I may not actually like or approve of.  That doesn't make me either right or wrong, just different.  So long as they also accept the same of me then it's all good. So come on guys, let's just ride our bikes and get on with enjoying our bikes no matter what form that might take.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Riding with a pillion

I suppose it's a bit bizarre really, motorcycling is a fairly insular activity after all, but I do enjoy riding with a pillion. I can't say I'm one for partying much anymore preferring my own company and a bit of peace and quiet. At best the company of a few good friends rather than a crowd of people I barely know. That's the trouble with getting a bit older, you learn the difference between friends and acquaintances. I've reached that point of realising that real friends are few and far between, I treasure their company and can't be bothered with the others. So you would have thought riding alone would have been perfect for me. No, the gods have played a trick on me, I'm never happier than when I have my wife sat on the back.  That's not to say I don't enjoy riding alone, I do, it's just that its so much better having somebody I care for to share the experience with.

The%20PillionThe bike is fitted out with an intercom so we could chat away but strangely we don't. Indeed there are days when I think she has fallen asleep there's so little going on. The truth is we're both just enjoying the experience as if we were riding alone. I'm a lucky man really, we're very close anyway but even better we share the same love of motorbikes and motorsports. Sharing 'the ride' is almost spiritual, we get to see wonderful places in a way so few people do these days using a method of transport we both love. It's special and it's just for us.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a hermit or especially antisocial. As you can see from older posts I'm more than happy at large gatherings like The Ride To The Wall, but that's different. That's a bunch of like minded bikers gathered together by a common cause, it's a brotherhood thing and really quite special. Riding with my pillion is personal, selfish if you like. I'm sharing an experience that is special for me with somebody who is special to me. It just seems so right.