Look, Lean, Roll

She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life said Susan B. Anthony, US feminist of the 19th century. Most days right now it feels like I am failing at both. My brain is failing to process information quickly enough to help me make decisions; I’m not looking far enough ahead and I’m not rolling on the throttle to get me smoothly through the corners.

Martin Hopp said lots of interesting things at Cadwell, the most relevant of which right now seems to be that controlling the bike should take no more than 10 per cent of your attention, leaving 90 per cent for information gathering, scanning, gear choice and all those other things that get you making progress. I reckon I’m still somewhere around 50 per cent of attention going on machine handling. When I learnt to drive I hated roundabouts, because you had to spot the gap and be ready to go all at once…unlike traffic lights where you had time to get the clutch to biting point, set the accelerator and be ready to go on green.

In an effort to find tranquillity I have taken up archery again, where you have all the time in the world to get bow arm positioned, target sighted and arrow loosed (and despite this, I’m still hacking lumps out of my arm. I’m not a junkie, I just have “string sting.”) At the club last night we were joined by John Cavanaugh, one of the UK’s top archers, who’s going to Beijing with the paralympic squad. He pointed out that all the practice in the world won’t help if your basic technique is wrong. So maybe I need to go back to year zero in some sort of biker regression therapy. I’m sure my KH100 is out there somewhere…

Despite one being very slow and one being very fast, archery and motorcycling do have one thing in common. When you get it right, there’s an amazing feeling of sweetness and flow. One arrow last night, one corner at Cadwell on Tuesday. Maybe I should look at this in a glass-half-full way and think how much I have to look forward to when I get it right all the time.


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