My bike is spotlessly clean - Shiny bits shining, screen and mirrors streak-free and tyre pressures checked. It leans on its stand in my driveway, and even then, silent, immobile and dormant it looks fast. It is too. Fast.
I smiled as I approached, walking slightly awkwardly in my slightly constrictive full leathers and riding boots, helmet in my left hand, gloves in my right. I'd be free soon - Just me and the open road. No fixed plans. Nowhere to be. Just the wind howling by, the white line on the road and the roar of the engine.
Gloves down on the tank, pull helmet on, tighten chin strap and wiggle head to achieve a comfortable fit; A familiar routine, the Shoei helmet an old friend. It pushed my cheeks inwards a little, but if my noggin hit the ground I'd be grateful for its protection.
The gloves were next and once secure I swung onto the bike and taking my seat I hefted the weight of the bike and kicked the stand back; A little closer to the open road. The familiar weight balanced between my legs raised my excitement for the wind rush and howl of speed. Turning the key to the on position and a light press of the red start button brought the bike to life. The road awaits. src
I let it warm to operating temperature increasing the revs slightly as it did, bikes like this work better that way. As I flicked the throttle with sharp twists of my wrist I smiled inwardly; The engine sounded racy, like it wanted to go...A caged tiger about to spring? No, a loaded gun about to fire. Temperature reached...
...I leaned forward taking the handlebars, arcing my back slightly to find a good position, and with right foot on the ground for balance, left foot on the foot peg, I squeezed the clutch lever with my fore and middle fingers of my left hand. A slight downward motion of my left foot and it clunked into gear - Revs dropped slightly and the engine growled as if to say about time. I rolled my right hand on the throttle slightly and my fingers eased the clutch out, letting it slip against the gearbox so the bike wouldn't wheel-stand and I was away, my driveway and house falling quickly away behind me as I accelerated up the road.
The white line zipped by, as did the slow-movers [cars] as I headed through the Adelaide hills towards Birdwood. We called it chainers, a slang term for the true name Chain of Ponds; A twisty route of sharp turns, sweeping corners and short straights.
Left, right, brake, throttle, brake, left, right, clutch, blip the throttle, down two gears, accelerate, clutch and up a gear, brake, left, right, clutch release, blip, down a gear, clutch out, accelerate...
...It went on and on as me and the bike became one and the same - Do this and it's blissful, do it not and you're probably off and in a tree. With each turn I moved my body, shifting to assist cornering, adding my weight to pull the bike down and get it turned at speed - The centrifugal force of the wheels turning tried to bring the bike upright. It was constant battle, man and machine against the nature of physics. I shifted from one side of the bike to the other, hooked on by the opposing leg whilst pushing the handle bars left or right depending on the intended direction. Right turn, push forward on the right bar, lean right; Left turn, forward on the left, lean left. For those who have never ridden a sports bike it sounds odd to push the handlebars away from the corner, but that's how it is - One doesn't turn at speed, you lean, and the bike follows provided you're looking at where you want to go - That's the key at speed...Look where you want to turn and the bike will take you there. All the while my eyes are saucers; Wide open, seeking threats, sending critical information to my brain in the hope that it would react fast enough in a dangerous situation: A car drifting on the white line, a wet patch on the road, stones, pebbles, sticks, wildlife...
The bike screamed, not in protest, but in glee as I throttled hard. The RPM needle flicking from 5000rpm to 12,000rpm, and more, depending on the gear and the demands I made of it. I could feel the tyres bite into the road as I leaned further down, cornered faster and faster then I'd rocket out of the corner and away down the road. Occasionally I'd lean so far my knee would scrape the ground as I rounded a corner, but not often; That sort of riding was generally left for the track as it meant immense cornering speeds and great risk of binning it. [Putting the bike down].
I always wore full leathers with knee sliders when I rode, not that that would save me if I high-sided over the handlebars and slammed into a tree at 120kph I guess. Still, it provided a little comfort. The leathers pressed on my body as I hunched down as low as I could get trying to lower the centre of gravity whilst keeping my eyes on the road ahead; Slow moving cars travelling in the same direction were gone in a flash as I screamed past, those going the other way...They were just a coloured blur. Onward I rode, gaining or losing confidence corner by corner depending on the way I took it. The countryside flew past unnoticed, as did the white red and black speed limit signs...
...Then I throttled back, straightened in the seat a little as my speed washed off. I geared-down blipping the throttle in-between changes, my heart rate dropping in unison with my speed. These downshifts were not the frenetic downshifts like those of the race up the hill, just gentle downshifts - The calm after the storm. The bike complied of course, it always did. It stopped screeching and roaring like a banshee and simply burbled along. I rolled into the small country town of Birdwood, 26 kilometres above the Gully Public House where the twisty stuff starts. It doesn't take long. Time for a coffee.
This is an account of a typical Saturday morning for me, in good weather of course, when I was riding bikes. I had a Yamaha R1 (1000cc) which is the street version of Valentino Rossi's MotoGP M1 although I've had many others. I loved that bike and my Saturday rides however I ended up selling my R1 as my back couldn't take the stress of riding in that position anymore. I could have continued café-cruising around the city for a cappuccino however the bike was made to race and that's what I wanted to do with it. I've been contemplating another bike lately but cannot decide what to get, something with a more upright riding position for sure, but just what I do not know. I'll work it out though. Maybe a Triumph Street Cup? Hmm, not sure.
Riding motorbikes is dangerous, there's no doubt, but the freedom one feels when riding is like no other. I've had many bikes despite my mum not wanting me to have one (ever) and even managed to get my mum on the back once, about a year prior to her passing away with cancer. Seeing her face afterwards, the exhilaration, fear and excitement when she stepped off...There can be no denying the thrill of riding!
So, I'm yearning for a bike at the moment but cannot decide what to get and indeed if I want to put myself out there again on such a dangerous vehicle. Well, it's not actually the bike that's dangerous, it's more the other people on the road and their inattentiveness I guess. We'll see what happens.
Want to know what it's like? Watch this 18-minute lap of the Isle of Mann TT track with multiple camera angles - Turn your speakers up.
The original post of 980-words was written and posted by me a couple years ago. This post comprises 1277 words and has been reworked and reposted for the @nonameslefttouse #showcase-sunday concept. See the intro post here. I suggest you read it as he set some guidelines and a simple copy-paste of an old post is probably not legit.
Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default