Road Rage

Most of us have experienced road rage in some form or another. If we’re totally honest most of us have felt it more than once. I myself have had one or two screaming matches in my time. I even followed a lorry driver I believed had nearly taken me off the bike, punched his cab door and shrieked at him for 5 minutes solid. I lost my voice. But I have NEVER deliberately run into someone, nor physically attacked a person, particularly not someone on a motorbike.

This unpleasant little story popped up on my Facebook feed just now. Basically, (male) biker tells off (female) car driver for texting and driving. She chases after him and knocks him off at the next lights, slaps him and chucks his helmet into the road. He gets his bike and helmet written off, she gets a 12 week suspended prison sentence, and pays £1,290 in fines and compo. Nowhere near the value of the bike and gear, I’m guessing…

Her solicitor claimed she had previously experienced domestic violence, and that the (male) biker “must have said something significant for her to respond in this way”. Sound familiar? Maybe he was Asking For It? Maybe he Shouldn’t Have Been There?…

I am a feminist, I believe it’s a necessary thing to be even now, but more importantly I am an Equalist. Had the genders been reversed, and a male car driver deliberately ran a female biker off the road I imagine the response would have been much harsher, particularly after the additional physical assault, and such a response would be entirely justified. It’s the softly softly response that is unjustified here.

I have experienced relationship violence, both mental and physical, I also have well-documented mental health issues. If I ever lose control of my mental state to the point of physically attacking strangers and attempting to kill them just for criticising me then I will need serious psychiatric help. It may be a reason for my behaviour but I do not see it as an excuse. If this woman really has such deep-rooted problems then she too needs to get some help. If he’d physically threatened her it might be different but it seems that wasn’t the case. This kind of argument actually weakens us all – it feeds into existing prejudices and hardens attitudes without offering any real solution.

TL:DR Don’t try to kill each other on the road, there’s no excuse for it no matter what gender (or none) you are.

The Adventure Continues…

We’ve done a few Mod 2 rides but last Friday was the first official post-Mod 1 session. Naturally we picked the day on which Hurricane Abigail was giving way to Hurricane Kate in order to get the very best of the wind and rain.

J suggested we might like to only do 2 hours instead of the projected 3 but we are hardcore and decided to stick with it. The day started well with me unable to turn the bike into the wind whilst warming up on the track and just got better from there, really.

I think I mentioned before that not all Gladiuses are created equal and yes, I ended up on the one I struggle to control. It’s been lowered again which is good, I can at least see the floor now, but it’s very twitchy on the throttle and the back brake resembles a snapping crocodile. Still, good practice for my clutch control.

Dear old K is a total speed freak and seemed blithely unaware of my squawks of distress as the Black Widowmaker and I squirrelled along the exposed A48 with him bellowing, Clarkson-like “MORE POWER!”. Still, we made it into Bridgend unscathed and proceeded to explore the environs, both salubrious and otherwise. Safe to say I have reached the parts of Bridgend other people don’t reach. I can’t tell you where they are because i think we actually completed a Mobius strip at one point and entered another dimension. A cold, wet, windy dimension.

Two and a half hours later we emerged again, only to encounter my worst nightmare. Exposed roads, gale force winds and mud all over the fecking road. Elegant riding blew away on the breeze as we concentrated mainly on staying on the road and vertical while riding through something that looked like Glastonbury on Day 3.

After ripping us to shreds and remarking once again on our unnaturalness, K was uncharacteristcally kind and admitted that if we could ride like that one a day like that, then we should get through Mod 2 with minimum fuss.

That said, if next Friday shows similar weather I might postpone training in favour of a duvet and Netflix…

Untitled Post

This blog was supposed to be just about “fun stuff” y’know? Biking, baking, braiding and beading like it says on the front end. It wasn’t going to be political, or religious or sexual.

But then Paris happened. And Beirut. And Baghdad. And I felt I had to get some thoughts out there. Remember these are thoughts, they are my thoughts, I don’t expect them to be your thoughts. They may well be quite confused thoughts too…

I should start by saying I am not a Christian, or a Muslim, or Jewish, or indeed any of the major world religions. I was brought up in a strongly Christian household, thankfully by parents who taught us how to think and make our decisions. If you really want a label then I’m an Eclectic Humano-Pagan Atheo-Agnostic Witch. I believe we live and learn by living, learning and listening, to each other and to the world around us. I don’t follow any Book or Dogma (not strictly true – see end of this post to see my favourite Words*) I don’t know whether I do Right or do Wrong, but I try to do what I have to do to fill my place in the World.

I’ve met good Christians and bad ones and I’m extrapolating from that that there are good Muslims and bad ones, good Jews and bad ones, good Sikhs and bad ones etc. because we are all human we are good and bad together.

However as an EHPAAW I differ from all of these religionists in one big way. Whatever I do, and whatever consequences occur, it is all on me. My choice, my responsibility, I have to live with it. There is no God telling me to kill in His name, no God telling me who to hate, not even a Devil “telling me to do it”. What a luxury to be able to hide behind such impressive beings? One can live as a child behind its mother’s skirts, never feeling the consequences of one’s actions, because of course, they are not truly one’s actions.

All the Holy Books contain much that is good, but they also contain much that is confusing, ambiguous and occasionally downright wicked. The Faithful are told to show mercy, be kind, be joyful, they are also told to kill, to destroy, be vengeful, particularly to unbelievers – sometimes in the same verse… We have free will to interpret these verses as we will but it’s a sad thing that “cherry-picking” so often leads to humans choosing to use only the vengeful words rather than the merciful words. All the Holy Books can be used to justify anything humans can contemplate, from St. Francis of Assisi to Fred Phelps, from the gentlest Sufi to Jihadi John, and indeed they are, every day.

And it always struck me as divinely coincidental how often God’s Will chimes so perfectly with what people want to do. How often do you find someone choosing to follow Matthew ch.19 v.21: “ Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”. I mean, that would just be silly, you’re taking it out of context and you have to remember this was written in a very different time when values were different and what Jesus really meant was…

What I’m working my way round to saying is that people should stop hiding behind ancient Words that may or may not have been inspired by a Deity, because either those words have been so hopelessly lost in translation that they have no bearing on humanity, or the Deities involved were psychotically insane and deserve to be shunned. If you must cherry-pick the verses, choose to cherry-pick the humane, kind, joyful, inspirational ones.

You are the light of the world, shine brightly, do not allow anyone, God or Mankind, to dim your flame.

It is better to light a candle than to scream in the darkness

It is better to light a candle than to scream in the darkness

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

What the…

We’ve only been and gone and done it! One minor each for myself and Long Tall Gary but otherwise straightforward Mod 1 passes!

Success

It’s taken me a few days to post because I’m still slightly in shock. Living as I do with near permanent anxiety, the added stress of testing did something odd to my brain. Ever since the theory test back in May I’ve had Mod 1 hanging over me like a big crashable cloud. Failing the first attempt didn’t help the nerves even though it didn’t really upset me all that much.

Unlike the first attempt we didn’t have to ride the test bikes all the way to Newport (in the rain), so we went in pretty much cold, just 4 quick slalom and figure of 8s in the car park then off to the test centre. I don’t remember what I’d said but the lovely J who books the tests had very kindly put me in first “by special request” so I didn’t have to wait around panicking . In spite of that by the time we were sitting in the test centre I was on the point of vomiting with nerves, hyperventilating and shking. Is this normal? Probably not but for me it is and I hate it it. No amount of deep breathing, visualising, pain distraction or wood touching makes any difference. As soon as I stop doing those things I can almost feel my adrenal glands squirting their little guts out, squeaking delightedly as they do. Little bastards…

I’m not so good at recognising my own achievements but I am trying hard with this one because it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done in a very long time, certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done voluntarily. Bearing in mind I am “not a natural biker”, let us count the ways:

  1. Going into the test pretty much cold, 10 minutes prep immediately before the test. Usually it takes me longer than that to settle onto the bike
  2. The bikes used in training are supposedly identical, but in fact they’re not. I’m sure a more natural biker would barely register the differences and just adapt but I’m still clunky enough for it to make a difference. The bike we ended up using for the test wasn’t the “best” bike… The throttle is less smooth, and it needs slightly more revs to stay upright, the handlebars are fractionally further forward and the rear brake ABS kicks in more forcefully
  3. The weather was foul…

But i coped. We both did. That we did so in spite of difficulties speak volumes for the amount of work we’ve put in, and the fantastic training we’ve had from Vale Moto.

We start our official Mod 2 training on Friday, will the L-plates come off before Xmas? Watch this space xx