Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Last ride

Sold on eBay, my last motorbike. Today was my final powered ride, 35 gruesomely cold, wet and windy miles from Hillswick to Lerwick so I could check the bike in as freight for Aberdeen. Tomorrow, all being well, a man called Gordon will ride away on the old Suzuki GS1000G. It will be out of my life.

I've said this before, of course. But with a new Surly Long Haul Trucker touring pushbike arriving tomorrow, I can't afford any more motorised two wheel indulgences. Big acoustic motorbike tours (cf Luka Bloom) loom next year. And besides, I've had enough.

Enough of the fear, the cramped fingers, the wetness and cold, the discomfort. The fear. Terror compounded by the inability to see anything through that useless condensation-prone AGV helmet, the most expensively hopeless I've ever owned.

I've been lucky. No motorbike-related breakages, no serious harm in the, ah, 40-odd years I've been riding the things. If you count that Vespa I had at 14. But last year's epic 3000-mile plus Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland tour saw my first spill (static in a car park). And the sheer awfulness of high-speed motorway dodgems on the M6 would put anyone off.

2011 was the year of four motorbikes for me: The beautiful Moto Guzzi Bellagio, two old Kawasaki GT550s, and the Suzuki, three years in and out of the shed. but mostly in. And now there are none. All gone through eBay and Shetlink.

Loads of two-wheeled memories remain: Riding a BMW R1150GS through the remains of a bushfire (and much more) in South Africa. Transporting Kaye Adams in vintage BSA combination along Rose Street in Edinburgh (a TV thing). The MZ ETZ250 combo of Spirit of Adventure fame, raced at midnight for money and whisky round a car park in Islay. Honda 50, Troon to Kirkcudbright and back, aged 17, in a single night. Norfolk to Drumnadrochit in one day last year on the Bellagio and a Triumph Street Triple. Morris Dancers welcoming Rob Allanson and me to St George's Distillery last year, again on Street Triples. Caught in blizzard on the Drumochter Pass on a BMW, in April. Dropping a borrowed Ducati 996 (fortunately on soft grass). Riding a  Road King at the Perth anniversary Harley rally. Nearly totalling a Harley Sportster on a cattle grid near Tomintoul. And on and on and....

Stop. Time to start pedalling.


Magnie said...

Sad day. Still, welcome back to the exciting and at times terrifying world of cycling in Shetland. Sucked to death by a passing salmon juggernaut, or instead just potter about the byways and freewheel downhill and walk uphill. My ageing style now. Summer on a bike is good. Sledging takes over in winter.

Thoroughly enjoyed your 'In Aboot Da Night' with Mary Blance this week. Excellent start to the new series, and good tunes too.

Dave Hewitt said...

Interesting point about the “high-speed motorway dodgems on the M6”. I’ve never ridden (or driven, or whatever it is you do) a motorbike in all my 50 years of puff. But I’m just back from a long weekend down seeing my mum in Derbyshire, which involved driving (in the comfort of a VW Polo) 300 miles each way, almost all of it on motorway or high-grade dual-carriageway: M74, M6, A66, A1, M18, M1.

Went down on Thursday afternoon in foul weather when one presumably wouldn’t expect to see many bikes; came back on Sunday afternoon in much better conditions. And the number of bikes on these roads? I wasn’t counting, but can only recall one zipping past me yesterday, and none on Thursday. Compare that with, say, going up the Loch Lubnaig road or the Highland A9 (or, in Derbyshire, the Cat and Fiddle road), when bikers stream by near-endlessly on any summer Sunday, and it does appear to suggest that they actively avoid the dodgem-like motorway system, at least in the northern part of the UK.

Unknown said...

You'll never forget the ones with motors in them Tom!!!