So, where to start… at the end of July 2015 I rode a big girl bike on the road, without an ‘L’ plate, high-viz vest, or a crackly radio in my ear. Passing my mod 2 was a massive achievement in my life, it was a long journey but totally worth it!
A year before that I went out as a pillion for the very first time (another year before that I would have sworn pillion was a fish). Back then I had never been on a bike or even knew anyone who owned one, they weren’t in my world at all and now I can’t get enough of them!
“He’s tall… seems really nice…. oh and he rides a motorbike”. Its July 2014, I was at my parents’ house in Scotland and my Mother had asked me about a boy I had just started ‘seeing’. My mum proceeded to tell me of her first experience of motorbikes. In the early eighties she was to ride pillion for the very first time on her boyfriends small bike (size matters on this occasion). He showed up outside her door with a helmet and told her to jump on. Like myself, she is taller than the average woman so could sit comfortably with both feet flat on the ground. As she fastened her chinstrap the engine roared into life and the boy set off…. leaving my mum standing in the middle of the road looking like she was riding a tiny, invisible horse. I found this especially hilarious as my mother squatted down showing me the stance and waved into the distance as she told me the story. My Nanna then informed me that one of her early boyfriends had also ridden a bike and she had managed to ride pillion with far more success, “he even gave my mother lifts in the sidecar” she laughed, I also laughed, a lot! I therefore decided it was in my blood and that my first little nod into the motorcycling world would have to happen soon.
One warm summer evening back in my adopted home city of Newcastle it was decided that tonight was the night! I was about to sit on a bike for the very first time!! I’ve always loved going fast; whether I was on a rollercoaster or just my dad driving ‘a bit mental’ in my mums old Impreza, when your stomach doesn’t know what the hell is going on and just starts flipping out, I love that feeling. I can’t describe exactly how excited and nervous I was, even just standing watching the black and orange bike being wheeled out the garage, relief flowing over me as I noticed the lack of side car, the engine starting up…’my stomach is about to pop out my mouth’!! I pulled on my birthday gifted helmet and gloves, I didn’t have any other gear but a few layers of jackets and a pair of doc martens was enough for the quick journey. I climbed on the back as instructed, put my feet on the pedals – there’s no way I’m making the same mistake as my mum – and held on tight around his waist, then we were off.
He’s a sensible lad, sometimes, and although we didn’t go too fast, to me it really felt like we were! I felt so open to the elements, so close to the road and the only thing keeping me on the bike was my grip, it was scary stuff but at the same time the most amazing feeling!!! Now, because I was only wearing a pair of jeans I got very cold quite quickly, obviously I know I have knees but I don’t really think about them much on a day to day basis but they were FREEEEZING, I had never thought about my knees as much in my whole life as I did on that trip “wow my knees feel a bit cold”…. “My knees are really getting quite cold”…. “If my knees freeze how will I get off the bike”. We stopped in Tynemouth for a coffee, I managed to get off the bike (and complain about my cold knees) and I knew from that moment on that I wanted to ride a bike, but first… more appropriate trousers.
Words: Sam Carswell