I love my family, my friends; hell sometimes I even like my job BUT like most people; there are times when I just want my own ‘quiet’ time. I don’t ask for much, just a little peace and ‘me’ time in a world that seemingly demands my attention – home, work, social media….
Last weekend, the sun came out on the North Shore and I grabbed the opportunity of freedom with both hands (by grabbing the keys to the Yamaha MT-03). As you may well be aware, I am learning to ride a motorcycle, so wet, windy or generally uncomfortable weather offers no lure of bike time – which in turn means more convivial family or work time but bring on the sun and my excuse to get away rises to the fore – yeehaa.
With riding gear on and phone off, I rushed out the door – leaving all the noise and commotion behind me – It was ME time and I intended to own it!
Still a little rusty, I headed for my trusty car park – call me a wimp if you like but the main thing I have discovered throughout this exercise is that confidence is king. After a little time of getting reacquainted I ventured out to a road circuit I had mapped out. This circuit included roundabouts, traffic lights, sharp(ish) turns and other traffic (but not too much). It was an ideal place to familiarize myself with start/stop, pull away, indication and general bike control, all while being aware of other drivers – genius.
In the movie Bambi, when first born; the baby deer struggles to find its feet, it’s a bit wobbly and a bit unsure but over time it gains the co-ordination and skills it needed to stand, to walk and then to run – the similarities are uncanny. With each bad gear change I berated myself and vowed to do better. With each unnecessary sharp tug on the brake I tut tutted into my helmet – but over time (my time) my confidence grew and so did my bike skills. The MT-03 took all my errors in its stride and eased me through the transition from car park to road. The clutch is very forgiving and offers plenty of range (without the bite). It’s light and maneuverable which I found a godsend in the corners and the ABS breaking ensured there was no skidding sounds – tyre squeal is not what I want to hear right now. There is a lot of new learning and new co-ordination skills required when riding a motorbike and (for an old dog like me) new trick require time but thankfully, the MT-03’s low centre of gravity meant that balance wasn’t an issue.
With each turn and perfect clutch/gear change combo I achieved, I added an extra tick to my confidence bank – I can honestly say you can feel your body relax. After, (let’s say for the sake of my manhood) about an hour, I was ready to take a trip. With the sun out I decided on the beach. A deep breath and a quick rev on the MT’s throttle and I was off.
Being aware of the traffic is something that I possibly spent a bit too much focus on. I looked in both mirrors a lot and although they don’t offer the same visibility as a car, combine this with moving your head and looking around and you get the job done. Remembering to switch off the indicators is a rookie mistake (that I made plenty of) but I have to say; I was rather proud of myself when I arrived at the beach front – preferring to do a few drive bys before stopping outside a café.
Stepping off the bike I confidently rolled my shoulders back – I had successfully completed my first ride, and it felt GOOD. Riding gear off I headed for the café – I’d earned my flat white.
I gazed out at the coast line and out at the Yamaha, both looked great. It was at that moment that I really understood the true draw of bike riding. On a day like today – the sun shining, the gorgeous waterfront landscape, the piping hot cup of coffee, the freedom, and the sense of satisfaction of a job well done was enlivening – I owned it for as long as I could.
Coffee finished, I stood by the MT-O3 and started to put the gear back on – it was time to head home and back to reality but not before a random guy came over and said ‘nice bike’ and we chatted about it for a while – I was a biker – yeah me!
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