I have a 3.5 mile commute to work. Our office is at the very back of an industrial estate with one road in and one road out. Well, there are two roads out but one of them is barred by the business that straddles it and you can’t use it without a pass. Bastards. But I digress.
In the past few weeks we’ve had more than one evening when the exit road is at a standstill thanks to roadworks, broken down buses, or that Highways Agency favourite, ‘weight of traffic.’
I walked home in the rain. I asked what kind of numpty drives to work and sits in queues when they have a motorcycle licence. I headed for ebay. And lo – a red Suzuki of slightly uncertain paperwork had my name on it. It was in Nottingham. I have a 2CV with a towbar, and the phone number of a trailer hire company. I went to pick up the trailer with my two forms of ID. They went unchecked. ‘You don’t look like a trailer thief,’ said the chap. ‘And let’s face it, you won’t get very far.’
I had a cup of tea with the owner, his wife and his son. This was his last bike and he was giving up riding. I promised him it was going to a good home. He helped his son push the bike onto the trailer and I strapped it down. I’ve seen it done plenty of times but this was the first time I’ve ever tied my own bike down. I’d probably have hummed a Rolf Harris song if it hadn’t become morally impossible to do so.
We bounced off over a million and one speed bumps and ventured onto the M1. Hortense is indomitable and quite enjoyed her new role as ‘toy hauler.’ Even better, when I got home the bike was still attached. But that presented a whole new problem. With perfect timing, my new neighbour popped out of his house to put some cardboard boxes in the bin. He seems a good bloke and was not at all put out to be asked to help his neighbour wheel a motorcycle off a trailer. In the rain.
When I started riding I started on a red Kawasaki which looked very like this one, though it was a 2-stroke. It swiftly became a rebored 2-stroke. Oops. And when I get on this bike to ride to work, it’s like getting on a time machine. Hello 1996! There’s no pressure to be good, or cool, or fast. We trundle up the outside of the queue, stop at the lollipop lady, and do lots of lifesavers. Best of all, it costs less than a fiver to fill up. Happy days!