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How I became a biker

100% Biker dropped through my door the other day. For some reason I always seem too ended up reading the back first. It was an article by Shaydes about how he became a biker, and thought it might be an interesting exercise to put to paper how I turned into biker.

It guess it started back in 1989 when my boatyard of 2 years was ceasing to be a viable prospect. A friend of mine had got this MZ from one of his mate’s fathers for a 6 pack of beer. He couldn’t start it and for some for some reason I could, but couldn’t ride it.

I can remember coming up with the idea of using it to get to and from my yard to save on the running costs of my car, and some how ended up with it in my possession (the details of how are a bit hazy). I also remember driving it over to my yard with no clutch, licence or helmet (the seeds of rebellion?) by starting it in the right direction and stamping it into gear. Then stalling it to stop.

Once there, as my business had ceased to all intents and purposes and having been told that the bike sounded like a bucket of nails, I decided to fill my time rebuilding her (with the help/hindrance of a Haynes manual). I set the engine up on my long planking bench and proceeded to dismantle it by laying the bits out along the bench as I took them off and moving the engine along a bit. I then took all the bits that looked worn to a local bike shop and ordered new ones with the help of the lads in the shop as I didn’t have an idea of what was worn or not. I got the new bits and placed them in the appropriate spaces on my bench and put it back together in the reversed process of how I dismantled her. Once back in the bike I was amazed that it started ok. Having no understanding at that point of how an engine worked, this seemed like a miracle.

Some time after this during my last couple of months in Edinburgh I took, and got my full licence. This in its self was an interesting experience, not leased of which was getting rear ended at roundabout on the way to the test centre, damaging the number plate of the bike I had borrowed from my bike tutor (the MZ being 150cc). I was also the first to take the new pursuit test at this particular test centre and the examiner was not used to it. He kept having to ask me to stop as his bigger bike wouldn’t fit through the traffic that he was telling me to filter through.

I then moved down to Windermere for work, and hardly used the bike as it wasn’t charging the battery, stranding me in the lakes the first time I took her out. Two bike shops failed to rectify the problem so eventually I set about fixing her my self and started to understand a bit more about how it all ran in the process, as well as sorting her much to my delight. It turned out Id cracked the insulation on the armature using a pulley remover to get it off when I rebuilt her. Good lesson learned for the future.

I started using the bike to get to and from work as well as around in the lakes as it was impossible in the car with all the tourist traffic. I used it so much in favour of the car that my car rusted to the spot and got sold for spares.

Sometime that summer I set off on her, with no plans and a couple hundred quid in my pocket. I just followed my nose, as the saying goes for a week. I had a great time covering some 1000 miles ish and truly learned to ride with confidence.

At this point I was still very much my old self, clean shaven and a young man/idiot stressed out with trying to live up to expectations of others and awkward sociably. Towards the end of the summer however I was riding along and came over the Kendal Sniff Divers rally (sadly now diseased) and called in. I can remember nicking off to get some Guinness, my then poison of choice which they didn’t have, going back having a great time cracking on and feeling at home sociably for the first time. I also recall waking the following morning in a tent between two scary looking strangers wondering where I was and where was my bike? But I was hooked.

Over the next year or so, I stopped getting my hair cut and a beard appeared. I found my self with a much more relaxed attitude to life, going to a rally almost every month and making lots of new friends. I also started evolving my chop out of a GS550 as well as using the MZ (which was christened Sheba as she was as reliable as a sheep dog) at every opportunity. I also found that I much preferred a open face helmet after an unfortunate encounter (snapped break cable) with a Volvo that jarred my neck badly when I landed.

So in all, I guess I could say it was a gradual evolution very much for he better that’s still going on today. As Bob Dylan puts it “He not busy being born is busy dying”.

Unfortunately I don’t get as many riding miles in as I used to. Partly for health reasons, a weekend’s ride can leave me in bed for 3 days to a week, very annoying. And the fact that you aren’t allowed to take 3 on a bike doesn’t help, as most times my partner her son and my self all want to go together. A Trike or side car outfit may be in the offing.

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This page added..08/08/06