The How and The Why

You’re not really a what I call a natural biker” – K, my CBT instructor on realising LTG and I will need another day of CBT

You’re neither of you natural bikers really” K, our Mod1/2 instructor faced with the task of getting us through Mod 1

You’re still not natural bikers but you’ve failed with smiles on your faces and that’s what counts” – K, on being told we had both failed our first Mod 1 attempts.

This is Mike the Bike. He is my mid-life crisis. He is a Yamaha YBR125 Custom. He’s not all mine, I have to share him with Long Tall Gary, my oversized other half.

MtB YBR 125 Custom

MtB YBR 125 Custom

Like my fondness for 50s-style British Trad Jazz and Golden Age hard sci-fi, my wistful and so-far unfulfilled love affair with motorbikes started with my Dad. He started riding in the mid 1950s and had a succession of unreliable but gorgeous British bikes and sidecars for several years until I arrived on the scene in 1969 and he never owned another bike since then. It’s no wonder I often feel I should apologise…

Both my brothers are bikers (Fazer and V-Strom respectively) along with a couple of ex-boyfriends so why has it taken me this long?

Although Ole Papa Bear denies it, I have a distinct memory of being told at 17 “if you want a car, I’ll teach you to drive, I’ll buy you a car, I’ll maintain it for you, but if you want a bike you’re on your own”. As a penniless VIth Former living in the depths of rural Shropshire I went with the car option… Speaking to other Fathers-of-Daughters who are bikers this attitude seems pretty common – it’s not sexism, most of them have no issues with women riders (Ole Papa Bear follows Jenny Tinmouth with awe) – it’s just too dangerous for their own little princesses. And of course they don’t want their own babies mixing with oily hairy bikers. I have removed any possibility of my own daughter (14 going on 35) mixing with hairy buggers in leather by becoming one and thereby rendering it the most uncool occupation on the planet. She’ll probably become a Tory-voting accountant as a form of rebellion.

An ex-husband who didn’t even like cars (?!?) let alone bikes, followed by post-divorce penury took care of the next few decades until Long Tall Gary learned of my secret love and decided if he couldn’t beat it we’d both join it.

Part of me really wishes I’d done all this 25 years ago when I was young, fit, slim and knew no fear. However the more sensible part of me remembers the girl racer I was, looks at Ole Papa Bear with his single remaining knee-cap and facial scars, and an ex-boyfriend who is largely titanium and wonders if I’d still be here now if I had.

So Mod1 is re-booked for the morning of Bonfire Night and we keep on buggering on. x