There are two types of men in the world. Oh yes, only two.
There are the ones who bang on about the fact that I ride a bike. If I am introduced to a third party by one of these chaps, my bike riding often precedes any other information about me. If I ride with anyone from this group, all I hear is how they can tell I am a woman when I ride. I wonder what they are trying to tell me? Answers on a postcard please.
The other sort of bloke, makes no comment about me being a rider; after-all, why not?
Luckily I enjoy company and these two groups of men are always good company.
Many moons ago, when I was still a teenager, I met Wally and he was instantly attractive to me, on account of his brand new Suzuki TS 125 bike in a glorious shade of 1970’s orange. Wow, I thought, I’m in LOVE; and the guy’s not bad either. Within a few short weeks I had his motorbike and him all to myself. On the down-side, I did not have a clue how to make the bike go. I was not a driver, but I had driven a tractor and was sure it must have furnished me with some transferable skills. Sadly no. Thank goodness Wally is a very patient person. In no time at all I was as good as I was ever going to be; and that is not particularly good; and I was totally hooked.
My total lack of ability got me into a few scrapes as I wizzed around the busy streets of Bristol. I managed a spectacular off as I skimmed through a tight bend, changing gear part way around. I was flung off at great speed, right in front of a bus queue. Worse, a bus queue I passed every day. I made eye contact with some of them as I slid past, belly down wondering where my bike had gone. I was so embarrassed and very glad of my state of the art, super modern, full face helmet, which gave me my much needed anonymity.
One morning at about 6.30, a couple of police officers stopped me for speeding through the city. Well I was the only person on the road at that time of day. Where was the danger? The first thing I was asked was, “Is this your bike?” “Yes.” I replied as I sat astride my machine in my big biker boots, the first of my many manly, greasy Belstaff jackets and my ‘integral helmet’. “You’re a woman???!!!” One of the officers simpered. Every morning for the next few days, they stopped me; only for a chat. I was flattered and promptly changed my route. After-all, up until they showed up, I had the roads to myself and could go screaming about the streets unimpeded. Oh how nice it was to get back to clearing out the pipes. I also enjoyed riding my bike.
Another time, while I was a student, the chain fell off my Yamaha RD 200 and the unexpected change in speed chucked me off. I knew the student bus was on my tail, so I grabbed my bike, stood it up, and found a gate to lean on, making sure I was staring enigmatically into the distance. Oh the shame. Some time later the same bike ‘lost’ it’s clutch cable, so I rode it around the city using racing gear changes. It is still a sound that has a certain thrill attached to it.
You can probably tell that I did develop some skills over the first year or so of riding, but not that many. What did develop was a love of riding that has stayed with me since those early days.
When I was zipping about in Bristol, I was one of only two women who rode there at the time. The other woman kept a Norton Commando and and she never waved in the usual biker style, not even when we fuelled up at the same time, in the same garage, she never acknowledged me. It was in the days of Brit bikers being angry with people who were buying Japanese bikes. She was a tough nut. Now the roads team with lady bikers and I love it. I am no longer alone. I am no longer unusual. So there is really no need to make a fuss.