Monday, September 03, 2007

Silverwinging it

It's 25 years old, my wee Honda Silverwing, but it performed perfectly on the run from Clydebank to Aberdeen yesterday. Well, apart from the broken speedo cable, meaning that I had to guess my velocity from the movement of other traffic (I tried to keep somewhere between buses and Renault Clios).

But the rain stayed off, and so I arrived at Peggy Scott's wonderful cafe, just by Finavon, in one long V-twin bounce from the central belt, ready to eat my own bodyweight in cake. Which I did. Twice.

The joy of motorcycling comes from combinations of opposites: the proximity of death, and a feeling of absolute control. Constant vulnerability and a sense of being untouchable. Being absolutely in your environment (the smell of garlic as you race past the polytunnels near Liff, the tang of the sea, cut grass)and the power to overcome it. Unlike an acoustic motorbike, or pushbike, where it's all physical struggle (uphill) and reward (down).

Back in Shetland, and off the boat at 7.00am, biking's bad side hit me full force: in the northern isles, it's almost winter. Hands go numb, legs ache, lips dry, toes disappear. OPD (Other People's Driving) is, as usual in Shetland, appalling, with the usual quota of hungover verge-huggers. The brutal north westerly wind threatens to tear off my helmet. God help the little clutch of touring pushbikers who came off the ferry with me. They had no idea what they were letting themselves in for. Well, they ken noo.

Home, toast, coffee and two hours of thawing out. Where's the car? Oh no, it's at the airport!

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