Friday, April 28, 2006

Slowly does it...

The 'Cat is in forth gear yet the speedo reads just over 20mph. Visor up, left hand resting on knee, I'm trying something new today.

I'm going slow.

And I mean really slow. Some of the lanes i've already ridden have been an real exercise in clutch control, hardly wide enough to let two ramblers pass yet here I am on my 162mph rice burner having a bloody good time.

The world seems a different place. I've got more time to take in my surroundings, the smells, the wildlife (I just saw some deer a minute ago). I'm going places i've never been before. Previously undiscovered hamlets are stumbled upon, entire landscapes are opening up in front of me and it's all just a few miles from my home. I've travelled halfway across the world but I still don't know my own doorstep because i'm too busy going through it to give it a second glance.

A few years ago Steve Rose wrote an article in RiDE magazine extolling the virtues of the snails pace. Fully kitted out in classic bike kit, complete with pisspot lid he spent the day pottering round back lanes and through picturesque villages at 20-30mph on a Honda Blackbird before declaring the whole experience as one of the best rides he has ever had.

And I have to agree with him. I'm not saying we should all travel everywhere at a crawl from now on - we'd all remain cage dwellers if we wanted to do that. But if you fancy a change of pace every now and again then you could do a lot worse than literally changing your pace.

Friday Local Humour Corner #1

A bear, a lion and a chicken are chatting.

The bear bragged "When I growl, the whole forest shakes!"

Not to be outdone the lion boasts "Well, when I roar the whole of the desert and jungle shakes!"

The chicken considered this and laughed. "Ha! That's nothing. I just have to cough the whole of East Anglia shits itself!!!".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

She's a Biker Chick!

Sunday morning saw me, Darklord and Matt from MotoRider gather at his unit with our other halves for a day of fun, frolics and CBT's and I'm proud to say that, despite a nervous start (and a minor off), Max did really well and she now has a CBT certificate of her own.

The off was completely typical of someone who has never ridden a geared bike before. Right at the start of the carpark session Max scared herself coming round the cones too fast and went for the back brake. Unfortunately, being an occasional cyclist what she actually yanked on was the clutch which doesn't really stop you from hurtling into a wall. Anyway, she picked herself up and got straight back on, there were a few nerves for a while after that but by the time we got out on the road for the afternoon she was fine.

Taking my biased husband head off for a minute the road session went brilliantly. I had hardly anything to pick up on. Observations were spot-on from the start, road positioning only required a couple of reminders in the first ten minutes and junctions were line-perfect nearly every time. Compared to most people i've taken out (seasoned drivers included) Max's road sense made a refreshing change.

If Max wants to continue onto her full licence there are a couple of points that need working on. Slow speed clutch control and smoother gear changes are mostly getting used to the bike though and the relaxing of the shoulders will happen naturally as she gets more confident. We're going to borrow a 125cc from Matt some evenings and go out for more rides and hopefully, a full test could follow!

And Max, as you'll probably be reading this I want to say that you DID do brilliantly, i'm not just saying it. And I wish I had pupils as attentive and keen to try as you every week. xxx

Monday, April 24, 2006

Questions I'd like to ask Mockney if he had a sense of humour #1

As you seem incapable of calling that thing that links ground floor to first floor anything other than 'the Apples & Pears', do you ask your greengrocer for ' arf a paand of their finest Braeburn Steps and a couple of nice ripe Anjou Stairs'?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The 'C' in CBT stands for Compulsory

This weeks MCN has an interesting little sub-article (partnering a re-hashed story about why motorists pull out on us) headed 'Bikers make safer drivers'. Academics and insurance companies have now confirmed what us Catagory A licence holders already knew; we're more observant, have better hazard perception & reactions and are less likely to have accidents than your average cage dweller when we take the tin can for a spin.

The EU's (fairly predictable) response to this has been to make it harder than ever to actually get a motorcycle licence. Well done lads!

But hang on a mo, here's a bit of a thought from way over in left-field. Instead of trying to rid the roads of motorised two-wheelers, why not make everyone learn to ride instead. I know there is no political gain in forcing people do something that is widely acknowledged will turn them into better drivers but what the hell, i'm willing to give it a try. I don't mind spending my weekends shepherding boy racers, company reps and soccer moms around on 50cc 'peds, watching them get scared shitless at roundabouts and every time someone pulls out in front of them if it means some of them start thinking about how fucking useless most people are at driving.

I'm sure there will be non-biking Daily Mail readers looking at this who will be horrified to hear that the leather clad scum overtaking their Freelandcruiser X5trail despite valiant efforts to block all attempts at passing is actually a better driver than them. So if I could just ask these people to turn off their dashboard mounted DVD's and put down their mobile phones for a second i'll explain why I think this is the case.

When I have to share the road with someone like you, someone who has the arrogance to assume that bigger does mean better, that hands-free kits are for everyone else, that courtesy and respect is what you deserve and we can whistle for then I very quickly learn to be better than you. I start paying attention to other road-users, it gets to be a habit to give others space , I get good at spotting idiots behind the wheel & those who consider mirrors and indicators to be optional and I then carry these habits over to my driving.

Making the CBT truly compulsory won't change drivers attitudes overnight but anyone new to the road will at least have personal experience to call upon before they think about pulling out of that junction without looking properly first.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Still here!!

I haven't disappeared, honest. Work's been busy last couple of weeks and my evenings have been spent 'Diarmuiding' the garden. I have got a head full of posts to come over the next few days and here's a sneak preview:

1) Why CBT's should be compulsory for everyone.
2) Take it easy - The joy of riding slowly.
3) Wife on a bike! - Max's first steps on the road to cool-biker-chickdom.
4) Gigs we're going to over the next couple of months.
5) The further adventures of The Mockney.*

Any pre-emptive comments on any of the above will be most welcome.

*Things have been quiet but it's going to kick off again soon. I can feel it in the air.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I wish I had my camera on me #1

Headline on EDP advert board this morning;


Now that's just a freudian slip waiting to happen.

Man held as terrorism suspect over punk song

LONDON (Reuters) - British anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said on Wednesday.

Detectives halted the London-bound flight at Durham Tees Valley Airport and Harraj Mann, 24, was taken off.

The taxi driver had become worried on the way to the airport because Mann had been singing along to The Clash's 1979 anthem "London Calling," which features the lyrics "Now war is declared -- and battle come down" while other lines warn of a "meltdown expected".

Mann told newspapers the taxi had been fitted with a music system which allowed him to plug in his MP3 player and he had been playing The Clash, Procol Harum, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles to the driver.

"He didn't like Led Zeppelin or The Clash but I don't think there was any need to tell the police," Mann told the Daily Mirror.

A Durham police spokeswoman said Mann had been released after questioning -- but had missed his flight.

"The report was made with the best of intentions and we wouldn't want to discourage people from contacting us with genuine concerns," she said.

Hmmm, this of course doesn't mean that we are turning into a country of idiotic, paranoid, shallow, can't think for ourselves morons who believe everything they read in The Sun and The Mail, does it? It's obviously a one-off incident and has never happened before.