“You wait ’til your first 1000…!”
These words that had echoed in my head for a good 24 months before purchasing my first 1000cc motorcycle; the infamous carburettor’d Yamaha R1 – Japan’s fastest motorcycle which ended up being banned because of its rawness and kill count.
Living in a van has its own set of limitations but what it does allow for is being able to purchase your own weapon of a crotch rocket so that you own it, outright. No monthly payments, no loans, no interest rates. Straight up, mine.
Since May, I’ve clocked up roughly thirty hours of riding the equivalent of being strapped to 150 horses whilst they run to the moon. By my own calculations I had done quite well. In three months I wasn’t in prison and I wasn’t dead.
The statistics aren’t great for first time riders of two-wheeled 1000cc death carts. I only picked up on this fact from my own experience; 90% of everyone I told that I’d purchased a bike responded immediately with ‘Be careful and don’t kill yourself.’
Thanks for the confidence boost. Fortunately, I’m quite aware of what I had purchased and knew only too well that to disrespect a machine that powerful is to flip off the very laws of physics and still hope to win. Interesting that only 10% of people responded with something more positive, like ‘Amazing, having fun?’ or similar levels of mild encouragement. Usually those members of the minority were bikers themselves. Real recognise real, yeah?
It was only until I started riding a couple of hours a day, for consecutive days at a time that I was forced to have a word with myself, otherwise I felt strongly that I was going to get nicked. The roads open up very quickly once you’re settled into her power, with just the twist of your hand, an inverted royal wave for speed freaks and dissidents where what lays before you is yours, yours to own and conquer.
Now you can see why these things can be massive ego-traps; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Combine that with an addictive and or trigger-happpy personality and you’ve got a concoction known as Grim Reaper.
My first 25 hours had been a period of settling, essentially. Getting used to the weight and power of the bike, how she handles, when to open the throttle, and how to stay alive if you fuck it up and come into a corner scolding hot (too fast).
Beyond this, my natural progression was learning to corner. ‘Everyone can ride in a straight line,’ I was told whilst passing my test. Learning in to a corner, however, is an entirely different sensation and approach and a skill that many bikers I’ve seen on the road aren’t quite confident enough to pull off. I think it’s because more trust is needed for the increased feeling of vulnerability. An acute sense of balance is required so you don’t fall off, and most importantly, you need to know your angle and speed of approach so you can take the bend at the right speed and apply power at the right point as to travel through as fast as possible, but also cleanly. Anyone who has ridden pillion will have felt the challenging aspects of trust and balance.