1996 and I had passed the quarter ton. I had read somewhere in the dim and distant past that you have reached your physical peak at 25 and it was down hill all the way from here. I am the sort who lets something like this niggle away but thankfully I was suffering from a bout of body-dimorphism where I saw a thin and fit looking 25 year old in the mirror, despite the fact that the Levis were 2 inches larger at the waist and all my clothes were reading extra large (for my broad shoulders I told myself and not my moobs). This dimorphism would endure for another 10 years so I’ll try and do a link back to this post in 10 days time.
The big thing in my life in 1996 was the getting of a motorbike – I had shifted the french lemon and had a company van so I needed some personal transport. I had toyed with a bike a few years previously but the bike laws at the time meant that I’d be riding a chicken chaser for 2 years so rather that ruin my street cred on a tzr80 I played the waiting game and got a decent bit of kit in 1996. I got a 1990 Honda Revere 600. 600ccs of vee-twin power. This was the business. I would be a fanny magnet with a bike like this.
A question running through your head at this point might have been ‘did I miss the post where he told us how he learned to ride a motorbike?’ . Well, no, you didn’t. I had had a few gos on motorbikes on holidays and had rationalised that it can’t be all that difficult and if you keep the fear of dying to the front of your mind you’ll be al-right. That was pretty much the case and I managed to survive more or less in tact.
There are a few lessons that owning a motorbike do bring to you (and that you don’t learn until you’ve made the mistakes that lead to the lessons) – they have nothing to do with the bike but more to do with your naivety:
- Leather pants do not ‘stretch’ over time. Nor do they ‘loosen up’. If they don’t fit, they don’t fit
- Motorbikes are not a fanny magnet. They are a great way of attracting small boys (not my speciality) and men with facial hair and tattoos but chicks do not dig bikes.
- Most bikes ‘do not do that’. Despite all the mechanics who tell you that ‘they all do that’. Warped brake disks are warped brakes disks.
I also went on the best holiday of my life. We had done the package holiday and the northern European cultural thing and I had realised that I liked the sun (hot thing in the sky, not wrapper for chips) and I liked the food/heaps of old stones/easy pace of the med so we decided to try the Greek Island hopping thing. It was the perfect venn-diagram that lead to the great holiday: We were open to the experience, the food/sun/heaps of old stones ratio was perfect, it was value for money and the ability to jump off a ferry, look around an island for a day or two and then fuck off if you didn’t like it was perfect. I know people who have gone in the last 10 years and have complained about the cost of the holiday but back then if was a fiver for a decent bed, 3 quid for a breakfast and the ferries were less than a tenner.
My career was in the slow lane and I was getting fed up of this. Apart from the bipolar boss everyone else I worked with was great but the work was tedious so I was willing to offer myself to anyone who’d take me. Nobody was biting on this one.