Just like riding a horse...
The plan was to ride first on Saturday to London and then to Brighton on Sunday, but Saturday’s weather was mid-winter cats and dogs with prevailing easterly winds certain to wobble the nerves of a newbie menopausal motorcycle rider. Sunday arrives with wardrobe thoughts at 5 AM and the refitting the rusty mounted windshield from the Suzuki 250 GN just before 9. James awakes to the question of ‘I wonder if it is possible….no problem if not…’
Departure for Brighton is brought forward by half an hour and Sunday’s lie in postponed in favour of watching live MOTOGP from Thailand where Valentino Rossi, my other motorcycle hero, is pipped from a podium position by one place.
The screen transfer a success we set off for Brighton on the understanding that I am to lead and James is to follow. This arrangement serves best, I’m told, because of the worry of checking I’m keeping up. My answer that I am the rookie and when in front share the same worry, proves the lesser argument. My blind corner nerves about free-basing at Rossi speed across gravel dominate my mind. At 55 I have enough life experience to know that this thought travels in the opposite direction of keeping me alive. My issue, I decide, must be faced head on and bugger the fear. If Rossi can come back from the worst Yamaha season in years and Lorenzo jump to his feet and walk after a multiple back flip and lynching by his Ducati, I can ride head first in to my own damn blind corners.
Off we set along the swinging back roads then up and over Newlands Corner where the view across fields that pilgrims once trailed is breathtaking. Through Dorking and right at the chicken roundabout onto the A24, where by now, my agricultural clutch control is smoothing nicely. For some absurd reason I’m happy at speed and can slip up and down the gears with minimum fuss, pulling away from the lights remains a stress-ridden process. I’ve lost my slow-control-mojo so it is practise, practise, practise for me. It occurs to me that new riders and drivers bring all of their inadequacies and imperfections to the road. A scary thought.
More hills and bends, the BMW G310 R give a perfect ride, unlike my G250 Suzuki that felt like riding the wrong side of a door. Gertie, as BMW girl is called, I always name my bikes, my 125 was Suzi One and the 250 Suzi Two, is my new best friend.
Gertie gleams and glides, I feel like a pro, all concerns about blind corners dormant for now. I’m up to speed and have finally stopped checking which gear I’m in on the LED. I figure it must be a newbie rider thing. Fifty is a breeze and I’m inching up to 60 MPH till I spot a larger than usual brick width hump straddling the road. SHIT! I’m not ready for that! Muscle memory kicks in as I stand on my peddles like stirrups on a horse approaching a jump. The bike bounces and leaps over the bump and flies into the air – this is not an exaggeration. I land, bounce and carefully sit down, eternally grateful for my years of horse riding experience.
Onwards to Brighton cruising down the M23, we slip on at Pease Pottage. Three lanes and an open horizon, the perfect place to think about my novel and daydream. I’ve always been a daydreamer, it is how I passed my horseback riding youth, dawdling for miles thinking about words, the sky, god, death. Full blown scenes and chapters play out before my third eye, I’m in heaven, every part of my body feels amazing. Then I remember, I’M RIDING A FRICKIN MOTORBIKE!
For four years I’ve been pillion and daydreamed my way to Scotland and back without a second thought for safety.
We arrive, see our friend, enjoy the sea. What is it about seeing the sea that makes you feel twelve again?
The ride home is efficient with no back roads, just the M23 and M25 and regular pinching of myself to stay focussed on the road. On balance, I decide ride #1 is a blast and that Gertie and I are set for fun, providing I keep my ageing wits about me.
Margot writer, astrologer, philosopher becomes a bike rider at the age of 55. 'I passed my test in 2013, rode a 1992 Suzuki 125 to Scotland and back then an 1987 Suzuki 250 for a year until a few mishaps, resulting in pillion for 4 years. In October 2018 I bought a BMW G310 R motorcycle. The Menopausal Motorcycle Diaries begins today and will run until my last day of bike riding.' Margot, Oct, 2018