Happy Birthday To Me

Today’s news: I’m now a scary biker type person, just like Martin, Michael, David, Bruce, and James along with once and future bikers like Sarah or Pia, but only dreaming of approaching the glory days of the munificent Greg. As of yesterday, my ride is a gorgeous blue 2005-model Honda VTR250, picked up from the dealer with a whole 1km already on the odometer (apparently they rode it to the service station to get some fuel).

My first trip was thus the 30km jaunt out to my parents’ place from Team Moto Honda on Moss St. Which would’ve been great, had the bike not been brand new with brand new tyres that still have the factory seal (and are thus inclined to slip a bit until it’s worn off), or had the roads not been damp or wet from showers all morning. Still it turned out fine, apart from a brief back-wheel skid while I was making sure I was familiar with how the bike brakes in a car park just after picking it up, and fortunately the rain stopped pretty much as we were doing the paperwork so the roads had had a brief chance to dry out. It rained a bit at the end of the ride, which didn’t seem to cause any problems — and turned into a confidence booster because I was expecting to have some sort of a problem. Did a little more riding afterwards, to get used to the gear and the bike and the roads and everything, and it’s seemed to go pretty well so far.

The original plan wasn’t actually to get a spiffy new bike, but rather one of the old learner bikes from Ridesmart, which ran the course that I did with Clinton to get our motorbike licenses. Our instructors were Warren and Leith, who were great — they expected a much higher level of performance than we actually needed to get the licence, and gave us plenty of reasons why that’s useful. Since my mum occassionally reads my blog, I won’t repeat any of those stories here though… In any case, they were switching from VTR250s for their low end bikes to the new (in Australia) CBF250s, which have a single cylinder engine and are designed more for commuting around the city, and generally should make more sense for teaching learners. So we said “hey, cool, any chance we could buy your old ones?” and they said “sure, when we get the new ones”, which will apparently happen next week some time. But when I was going shopping for a helment and proper riding gear last weekend, my mum mentioned “by the way, we were thinking of buying the bike for you as a birthday present”. Naturally, I replied “…”.

Somehow it went from there to getting a brand new one right off the dealership floor, signed, sealed, and ready to be picked up on my birthday. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any gaps in my memory of the sequence of events, but somehow they still doesn’t seem to make any sense. Oh well!

What else? I’ve been pretty impressed with all the motorbike people I’ve met; and it’s really weird to see how much more attention I pay to an engine revving as it goes past on the street now compared to six months ago. It’s also pretty weird to actually know things about engines and tyre pressures and whatever — I’d always avoided fussing over engines and guns as a kid as too traditionally macho and therefore insufficiently geeky. Well, at least admitting you’re wrong doesn’t fit that category…

Next, apart from spending a lot more time riding the bike in, taking it back to get oggy nobs fitted, and generally working out good routes to get around, I get to spend a day at the Mt Cotton driver training centre improving my roadcraft and having some fun racing around a track — something I’d been planning on anyway, and then got a voucher for with the bike. I’ve also started looking into getting a little GPS datalogger of some sort so I can track where I’ve been, and possibly to hook up to mapping software on my iPaq, since it turns out there’s definitely not enough room under the seat for a paper street director. Then there’s luggage, and going on some long rides over Cunningham’s Gap or down into New South Wales, and upgrading my license in a year or two so I can switch to a bigger bike, and…

Mmmm…

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