Over 4 years ago, I decided to give up motorbiking in Ireland because of the dangers or riding bikes on Irish roads, yet a year ago I got my 500cc Yamaha Black Max scooter out again and have been riding it since with ever growing enjoyment.
In June this year, we visited a friend who has a 650cc Suzuki motorbike and for the first time in years, I went for a spin on a "proper" motorbike again. That should've really been the end of that, shouldn't it? - Wrong!
Two weeks ago, just before my birthday, I bought a Honda Varadero 1000cc motorbike. The dealer was rather surprised, I think, as it's not the norm in Ireland that motorbikes are being sold to women and certainly not to women in their 50s.
So I picked up the bike last weekend and went for an extended spin. A fine bike with plenty of power. Being a fairly sensible biker, I took it easy as I have a healthy respect for the bike and what it's capable of.
And yesterday, I went for another spin as the weather was nice and sunny, perfect for a motorbike outing. We rode to the West Clare peninsula leading to Loop Head, a very windy spot with a light house surrounded by cliffs and the Atlantic. Nothing but water between here and America.
On the way back, we took a shortcut, a narrow country road of the kind you wouldn't call a road at all in some other countries. My husband was riding ahead on my scooter as his bikes are off the road at present and I followed. I didn't know the road well and had forgotten that there is a very nasty sharp blind bend going downhill. I entered the bend and was concentrating on manoeuvering the bike around it when I saw a car coming towards me. I swerved and got out of its way, but this car was followed immediately by a jeep. I knew I was going to hit the jeep unless I managed to get the bike out of its way quickly and in doing so, I toppled it over.
Next thing, I was lying on the ground with the bike on top of me trapping my left foot. 'This is it', I thought, 'my foot must be broken', as it was twisted at an angle and I couldn't move the bike off it. I was shouting for my husband to lift the bike, but he was down the road and had only just realised what had happened. The driver of the jeep stopped and came running towards me. He managed to lift the bike far enough for me to get my foot out from underneath it.
By then my husband had arrived and after getting me up on my feet, they put the bike in an upright position.
Strangely enough, I was able to stand and even walk. My motorcycle boots had protected my foot from injury.
However, I was badly shaken as this was the first time I had a near collision with a vehicle and the first time I dropped a heavy bike while riding it.
Still, after few minutes I got back on it and rode it home.
After examining myself, I discovered that I merely had a few bruises but was otherwise uninjured. But the effects on my psyche were a lot worse than my bruises.
I told myself (and my husband) off for riding on such a narrow single track road with a bike that I hadn't yet fully mastered.
I started getting feelings of self-doubt asking myself if I'd been too ambitious in getting such a big bike at my age.
I wondered if I should've stuck to riding my scooter instead of getting a bike again.
Now more than 24 hours after the incident, I've started feeling more positive again. I talked to a friend of ours who teaches motorbiking and advanced driving and he gave me some sound advice. I was afraid that my mishap might prevent me from getting on the motorcycle again or that I might be terrified of narrow bends etc.
However, I think with practice and patience, I will be able to get back on track and hopefully enjoy many more fantastic motorbike outings here in Ireland and abroad.