19 September 2009

On yer Bike!

One thing I've been meaning to write about is bikes. No, not push bikes, although I've always enjoyed cycling too. I mean motorbikes and anything on 2 wheels with an engine.
I've always loved bikes. As a teenager, I lived in Germany and as soon as I was legally allowed to, I got a "Mofa" at the age of 15. It looked like a little moped but the engine was restricted to 25km/h and you didn't need a licence for it. It was an ugly little red thing that often wouldn't start, but I loved it.
My second motorised bike was a moped restricted to 50km/h. A licence was required for riding it, but you were only tested on the rules of the road, and the insurance for these bikes was cheap. It was a shiny blue Peugot bike. I had it for several years.
Got my first car in 1975, but went back to cycling in 1977 as I'd moved to West-Berlin, a city with an abundance of public transport and great cycle routes. The only motorised thing I drove during the next couple of years was a Mercedes taxi for a living and to finance my studies in Berlin.
Around 1980, I took motorbike riding lessons and passed my test. A friend of mine had a Yamaha XS 650 for sale which I purchased. Now that was something else! I did a good bit of touring with that bike, but my most memorable trips were from Berlin to Ireland in 1982 and in 1984. Both times, I was the rider and had a boyfriend on the back of the bike. And both times, we made it back safely. I must have a rummage to see if I can find any old pics from the trip in 1984 as the bike was packed so high, it's a miracle the wind didn't blow it over.
When I moved to London in 1985, I reluctantly sold my lovely bike to a friend who subsequently crashed it only 3 months later :(
For years after, I didn't have a motorbike and didn't think I'd go back to biking as my daughter was born in 1987.
We moved to Ireland in 1997, and after a couple of years, my husband who had always had bikes, was talking about getting a motorbike again. I advised against it, but only a few weeks later, he bought an old Kawasaki Z900. He was so pleased to have a bike again and asked me to come for a spin. Reluctantly, I got on the back of his bike (only the 2nd bike I'd ever been on the back of one) and off the went. Well, we didn't get very far. After about 8 miles we stopped and I told my husband that I wasn't at all happy on the back of his bike. When he suggested that I should get my own bike, I just laughed...
3 weeks later, I'd purchased a Kawasaki 400cc Eliminator and felt great. We went on a few outings and a couple of times I took my daughter on the back of the bike. That's when I noticed that the 400cc engine wasn't really up to much as the weight of 2 people slowed it down. I mentioned this to my husband who suggested upgrading, but I couldn't find anything I liked at the right price.
Sometime later, my husband mentioned that he'd seen a great bike for me in Galway but wouldn't give me any details. So off to Galway we went, and then I saw it:
A dream of a bike, next best thing to a Harley: it was a cruiser, a huge Suzuki 1400cc Intruder. I have to admit, it was love at first sight, but I told my husband that the bike would be far too big for me. And too expensive. But I went for a test ride down the road...and the rest is history.
That bike I rode for several years. Did a lot of shorter trips in Ireland with it and went to to the Continent in 2004 via France, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland and Belgium. A mammoth trip of 3500km in 15 days or so. My husband had upgraded his bike as well and rode on his own motorbike.
In 2006, I had a lot of problems with tendonitis and decided that the Intruder was getting too heavy for me. Riding it on the Continent would've been fine, but the Irish roads are fairly bad and very narrow and winding especially in the countryside, not the ideal roads for a big heavy cruiser. So for the first time, I downgraded and went for a scooter. What? A scooter? you might say. Well, actually, the Yamaha Black Max 500cc is classed as a hybrid as it looks like a cross between a bike and a scooter. Very zippy with fairly big wheels and a sleek appearance, I liked it immediately.
We travelled to Germany via England in the autumn of 2006 with 2 bikes and had a great time.
However, a couple of years ago, I decided to give up biking in Ireland. The main reason for this was that there are so many lousy drivers on Irish roads and that so many bikers get killed in this small country. For various reasons, we were considering moving to the UK again, and there, I thought, I'd be able to get back on my bike.
That was before the recession and now we can't even think about moving as the housing market in Ireland is dead and selling our house at a decent price would be impossible.
So all the while, my poor Black Max was gathering dust in the garage and I couldn't bear to think of it. In addition, my husband was walking around with a long face every time the weather was nice (which is rare enough here), as we couldn't both go for a spin on our bikes.
So this week, 2 years after making my decision not to ride a bike in Ireland anymore, I changed my mind and registered and insured the Black Max again. And for the first time in 2 years, we went out for a leisurely spin in the Irish autumn sun! Lovely!
Me and my Yamaha 650 XS in 1981 approx.
My Suzuki 1400cc Intruder
Me and my Black Max taken in Kilkee, Co. Clare, today 19.09.09.

Dillyeo Inc.

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