Did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, doing a wheelie

I am in hell. I should have expected this but it’s still mind numbing. Sitting in a certain biker cafe listening to some spod bragging about how he ripped up some circuit on his first try, backwards on one wheel. And probably won the Grand National to boot. Go George.
His mate has just mentioned a make of bike that he likes. Our hero is not impressed. “They’re fucking shit, mun. The nanothrusters only do 10 parsecs to the kiloton. Couldn’t even do the fucking Kessel Run on one of them things” or something like that. I must admit the technical terms are beyond my butterfly brain… No seriously, I have a butterfly brain and no, it’s not because I’m a girl, it’s because I’m me and there are certain software issues.
To return to our sheep, while it’s fun to roll the eyes and tut at young men being young men, (and I’ve known some young women like that mentioning no names younger self…) this kind of macho competitiveness does worry me. This need to be better, faster, madder is almost certainly the reason a biker was killed a few weeks ago on the A470; on the wrong side of the road head on into an oncoming lorry. Such a death is unnecessary and almost certainly avoidable in most situations. I’ve no way of knowing if young Evel Kneivel is a sensible chap who does save it for the track, he may be a paragon of virtue on the road or he may be a bit bat-out-of-hell like the adorable but mad youngster who caught us up on his twist-and-go above Penderyn and claimed he’d had 80 out of it. Both these young men are clearly natural and talented riders and I sincerely wish them all the fun in the world, but lads, really do save it for the track. You’ll live longer and are less likely to face a future on 4 wheels, 2 big ones and 2 small ones, pushed by someone else.

Oh and if anyone did see a Vulcan rider apparently doing kettlebell exercises on the hard shoulder of the M4, there was a bastard spider in my helmet. I saw it crawl across the visor. I’m an arachnophobe and allergic to some spider bites. The potential carnage was unthinkable so I considered it an emergency.

[Also much thanks to the guys at M&P Swansea for adjusting the footbrake. Hopefully LTG will now be able to brake without cocking his leg like an incontinent spaniel]

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…

Riding along On My Automobike…

Today we have mostly been, pottering. You know those days when you know you want to go out on the bike but you don’t know where and nowhere seems to fit? So you just set off and potter.

I had a couple of errands to run, delivering a birthday present to my BFF (massive brownie points) and a trip to the post office, but apart from that there was no idea of being anywhere in particular. Initial thoughts of going to Cowbridge to look at crystals and unaffordable tie-dye blew away on finding that particular emporium closed several weeks ago (what is a hippie biker to do?!?) so we found ourselves in Llantwit Major.

That where things got interesting. I tried to find the back way out of Llantwit and missed. I found myself on the road to St. Donats and Marcross, a wonderland of autumnal tree tunnels, winding lanes and spectacular little Welsh hamlets nestled in grey stone under the trees. I’ve driven those roads before, I’m sure but biking gets you into the heart of the landscape in a way a car never can.

Most people associate Wales, particularly South Wales with heavy industry – coal, iron, copper, steel and The Valleys. It’s easy to forget living here just how little of Wales is industrialised, or indeed populated. The part of Shropshire I grew up in is formed by the last convulsion of the Cambrian Mountains as they slide gently into the plains of Mercia. It’s also a part of England/Wales that veered between the two countries for generations, depending  on which king was ascendant, something which has left its mark on the accent and outlook. This outlook coupled with the relative proximity of North and Mid Wales beaches for weekends and even day trips led to a feeling of familiarity and comfort associated with North Wales that I must admit I haven’t felt as much here in the South. Riding up to Brecon, or even to Carmarthen brings something of a “coming home” feeling as the scenery changes to something more indefinably Northern – I hadn’t even noticed this until starting to ride rather than drive.

However, today’s little jaunt threw a couple of little Welsh gems past my visor, a reminder that there was and is a South Wales outside the industrialisation and urbanisation. You just have to get out there and find them, preferably on a motorbike 😉