I do lots of stupid things in the hope that it will make me a better biker. Two Saturdays ago I was paddling a canoe to improve my balance and my upper body strength. My inner ear was the loser in a competition with a boisterous wake and as a result I can say with some authority that the sinking feeling obtained from capsizing a canoe two feet from the mooring is nothing compared to that experienced when standing in the hall in boots, waterproofs and jacket, and reaching for a lid that isn’t there. It had gone for a ride in the back seat of PB’s car and at 6.30 am on Monday morning was 90 miles away in flattest Fenland.
I hate buying new lids. I’ve had my head stuck in one; I’ve crashed in one just a week after taking it out of the box, and I’ve spent 200 quid on one that didn’t fit. The prospect of a distress purchase filled me with horror. But the prospect of having to do my 700-mile lap of the UK (for a poorly-planned set of meetings leaving me with the carbon footprint of Sasquatch) behind the wheel of the car was worse. So I drove to Swansea, which at least meant I could continue my pursuit of the elusive two draw bend, and embarked on a quest for an emergency lid (after the meeting, of course…)
Thanks are due to Busters, who pulled just about every single medium-sized lid they had in their stockroom down to the shop floor for me, but failed to find anything that could accommodate my robust jawline.
Double thanks, respect and a quick advertisement are due to Riders of Cardiff, who treated the arrival of a rather abstracted woman in sandals and handbag who claimed to be in urgent need of a helmet to do a track day as an everyday occurrence and were not fazed when it emerged that the only lid that fit was the top-of-the-range brand new line from a well-known German purveyor of motorcycles that I’m not allowed to mention because they weren’t supposed to give discounts. If you find yourself in Cardiff with some money to spend on things motorcycle, please go and spend it with them. In fact, please consider making a special trip. They deserve it.
Back in England I swopped the car for Ruby with much relief, the roundabout wasn’t damaged at all officer and I think my tyres are still OK, put on my new lid, enjoyed that fabulous new lid smell (old lid smells of dirty rain and the A14) and headed north to find my pit lane co-host already three pints to the wind and educating the HRT instructors on the finer differences between hamsters and gerbils. I have been given the opportunity to expand my motorcycling skills by running the assembly area at HRT training events. I have a whistle and an orange vest but I lack the commanding air of authority that has men complying at the lift of an eyebrow. I am thinking of bringing a large spanner for the spokes of those who attempt to sneak down the track access road before it is their turn, and a cattle prod for those who are still donning helmet and gloves three minutes after Control has given us the thumbs up. Everything looks organised on paper but in reality it’s like trying to manage a box of puppies.
Last week’s exotica included the not-yet-available-in-the-shops BMW S 1000 RR. This week, we give kudos to the man lapping Cadwell on a 250cc 2-stroke, and admire the optimism of the man prepared to do braking drills on a vintage Ducati.
The road to Cadwell is the rolling green epitome of the word “undulate.” I love riding it, whether through the morning mist to the circuit (Tuesday morning I picked my own 2 ducklings, I was surprised when two sportsbike riders indicated left and pulled in for me to pass them, the exact opposite of normal life. I’m not sure if they could read the Hopp Rider Training sticker against the rising sun, or whether they just made an inspired guess at where a fully-loaded 1200 GS would be going at 7am. They were lucky, I could have been heading for an RBR Landmark…) or at the end of a long day of clock-watching, whistle-blowing and shouting (all I need is a puffa jacket and I can be a PE teacher!) The long road home unwinds under me and I think how glorious it is to be part of this fantastic community of bikers.
This blog uses thousands of words to try and tell you what it’s like to ride. PHD nailed it in 15. “It’s the best feeling in the world,” he told Lydia. “Like riding a rollercoaster, but without the rails.”