Tag Archives: cornering

Empty Road, Evening Sun

I am going an A Big Adventure soon. I am excited about it but I am worried as well, because I will have to keep up with people who ride motorcycles for a living, and that has not always been my strength. I can keep up with couriers in the city, but dodging the sheep on tiny countryside twisties gives me The Fear.

Fears are for facing and overcoming, as far as possible. There seems little point in panicking about things it is in my power to improve.

So for the first time in a long time I went out on my bike to practice.

I live in the Flatlands where the roads tend to be straight and level, with the occasional 90 degree corner to keep you awake. But there are about three bends a few miles from my house, and I went out to ride them in a low gear and kick the habit of looking at the corner and braking into it.

It seemed very easy until my mind wandered off into practicing a conversation I needed to have today. Then the bends went to pot. So I conclude that it isn’t only men that can’t multitask. And I also conclude that the challenge might not be riding. It might be concentrating.


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Point and Pray

Had the very good fortune to hear a presentation by Andy Ibbott of the California Superbike School last night (it doesn’t just do California, it’s not just for superbikes, but you will learn a lot).

The biker boffins at CSS have broken cornering down into 49 separate activities, and given them slightly saucy names like the “hip flick” and the “knee to knee”.

Pointing the front wheel in vaguely the right direction, closing your eyes and praying to God are not, apparently, three of them.

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One wi’ the heid and twa wi’ the pigeon

(as they don’t quite say in Glasgow).

I have a problem with positioning. I can skim the white line for a left-hand curve, ready to sacrifice position for safety, but I can’t make myself adopt the IAM-approved, boot-so-close it’s dusted with pollen from the roadside poppies, verge-hugging position for right-handers.

My suspicions of the verdant verges were only confirmed today when a pigeon, happily minding its pigeon business beneath the long grass on the verge outside Newmarket, got startled by the triple beat of Hinckley’s finest and rose up, only to meet its maker courtesy of a size 9 1/2 Altberg Albion Classic. Being hit in the shin by a pigeon feels a lot like being hit in the shin by a spiky, hard football travelling at about 60 mph (honest, officer).

While I feel sorry for the pigeon, who clearly came off the worst from our encounter, I’m very grateful that he could only achieve an altitude of boot-height rather than head-height. The vicar at the christening to which I was headed was unpeturbed by the arrival of a congregant in motorcycle gear – I think she would have been less forgiving if my gear had been decorated in pigeon gore. The C of E may have built many of its churches on pagan sites but offerings of entrails, I believe, are now deprecated in favour of crispy fivers.

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Blogger seems to have decided I’m in Germany, which is rather further than I thought I’d travelled on one of Mr Branson’s shiny new Pendolinos. I had forgotten about the tilting bit until I looked out of the window and spotted a rather jaunty angle on a passing farmhouse – a strange sensation until I realised it was just like cornering on the bike – without the panic 😉

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