Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dead man riding

So there I was riding my big motorbike home through my little Norfolk town with panniers full of groceries. It’s one of those rare little towns that has no pedestrian crossings, no traffic lights, no parking charges, a hardware store that sells everything and, furthermore, staff that knows everything about what they sell and it’s opposite an electrical store that is just as good. It is old fashioned England.
I became aware of a `motorcyclist` following me. The first thing I noticed was the short sleeved West Ham United footy shirt the rider was wearing, even though it was starting to drizzle. No problem so far, I’m an East End boy and a lifelong Hammers supporter myself, although clearly not `wellard` like him as I was wearing my winter riding jacket buttoned up to the neck, plus my trusty buff. Maybe he can’t afford a winter jacket? Fair do’s, a good one will set you back at least £180, mine was a lot more. He can wear what he wants as far as I’m concerned. 2nd mirror check and I then spotted the tatty `L` plate and yoof-like face peering out of the helmet as he weaved up behind me, clearly intent on showing me a rusty silencer (did I mention the noise?) so the inbuilt defensive countermeasures suite in my head started to light up. 
Speedo check. I’m doing 30, its a 30 limit. I’m in a residential area and we are approaching a 4way  cross road junction as he pulls out to pass me, wringing the neck of his 2-stroke whizzer (I happen to have a soft spot for 2-strokes too, so still no prejudice creeping in, just apprehension of potential death or injury). He smokes past me. I’m still doing 30 mph although I’m now rolling off the throttle anticipating trouble as there is a car at the junction wanting to do something. West Ham yoof then anchors on hard right in front of me as he seems to want to see if its true what they say about Harleys and brakes as well as attempting a right turn at the junction. By now my defensive suite has confirmed the original suspicion that he is a dangerous pillock/prat/twat/dickhead. The fact that we were almost upon the junction when he chose to overtake me was lost on him. I brake gently to regain the safety gap that he stole and contemplate a shouted word after him, but choose not to, as I always do. He rode off into the housing estate, doubtless chuffed and smirking at passing `an old wanker on a f`ing slow Harley holding him up at 30mph` - in the 30 limit. No thought about the car waiting at the junction that could have gone for the crossing and `T` boned him. She actually saw us both coming. Top marks lady, for today the pillock was lucky it was you.
As I rode away I pondered how I might have helped this kid. Should I have followed him, engaged him in conversation, encouraged him to get some training, offer him the benefit of some of my 4 decades of biking experience and training and maybe a few tips about joining MAG? Nope. `He’ll be dead soon`, I thought, `or he’ll tell me to `eff off` or worse. Then I wondered how the Eu legislator- zealots will help him. Make him wear high viz? Well I spotted the claret and blue quick enough. Make him have a breath test kit in his back pocket? Make sure he hadn’t tinkered with his stock silencer? Nah, the rusty holes in it were caused by mother nature and neglect. I figured that he was just a pillock. If he’d have been in a car he’d still be a pillock. You can dress up a pillock in an Armani suit but you’d still have a pillock – he’d just be in an Armani suit. He’d be a pillock butt naked. It wasn’t the motorbike that made him a pillock, so what has all this mounting, burgeoning EU sponsored legislative crap gushing out of Brussels got to do with me and the thousands of other bikers who don’t ride like him? Whatever happened to cause and effect or putting the oil where the squeak is?
Maybe if I see him in town without the bike I might try starting that conversation, I’ll be really subtle. Yes, I think I will. I’ve seen too many dead and injured pillocks not to want to try. I hope he made it home OK.


sparkflash said...

Part of me shrugs and says "Darwin in action" and "I just hope it's only himself he takes out".
But another thought that quickly follows is that it doesn't HAVE to be.
It'd be good of you to offer a helpful word or two - it's the only other way for him to acquire experience, and it can be a steep old learning curve.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Hi Spark`. In my final year in `the Job` 19 fatal files (bikers) passed across my desk. Try as we might, my oppo and I could not find one where we could say `unlucky`. I guess we all have our luck allocation to carry with us, we just never know when the final one gets used up.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

I remember when the RD 250LC came out.
All the visorless helmets, no gloves, white socks and trainers clad seventeen year olds who would sprain their wrists desperately trying to overtake you.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Conan: I'm laughing as one who has also been there!!

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

So, just what DO they say about the brakes on Harley's? Is your Harley right hand drive? :)

Tadanori said...

'yoof': noun. Description - That short period in ones life where invulnerability and all knowing super powers seem real instead of imaginary. Many go on to become 'workaholics' and realise the truth. Some never make it that far either through chance or were never destined to. For further information see 'YouTube'

Hogdayafternoon said...

Scott: I always found the brakes on my Road King adequate for my needs. That said, I'm swapping it this weekend for a BMW. Not another GS, which shared my affections with the RK for the last 5 years, but a Roadster - I need a lighter bike! I'll aim to get another HD but it won't be the big tourers anymore. I'm sort of in mourning already.

Quartermaster said...

We see a few of that type around the Cherokee Area because of US 129 (Don't know if you've heard of the "Tail Of The Dragon" in the UK or not). They are usually a idiot on a bike that has far more horsepower than they have IQ points, with what I call a "Skid Lid" helmet (no liner, no DOT approval, and no protection) highly modified HD cycle, headed for the "tail" so he can risk his life trying to make the 11 mile run in record time.

I like to watch the show when some Rice Burning Crotch Rocket blows his helmet off and he tried to catch them. They always lose.

I like a heavy bike because they ride better on the open road. The Honda Goldwing would be my choice for a serious touring bike. Far less vibration than HD, and more responsive. Those big twins are basically trying to shake themselves apart. That's what the Yamaha XS-650C I had back in the 70s did. Nice looking bike, and rode well, but the vibration was an atrocity. Car head lights in the rear view looked like figure 8s. I hated to see the thing go, but it had to go. The HD of the time was even worse (that was when AMF owned them).

I think you're going to like the Beemer a lot more than HD. Too bad I can't get you, and it, over here. We could have a spot of fun running around this vast country.

Anonymous said...

As my Gunny used to say, you can always tell a (pillok) you just can't tell them much. (Gunnery Sergeants of Marines tend to use somewhat colorful language not suitible for family blogs.

I like your comment on the hardware store. My wife complains that my weakness is hardware stores and book shops. I keep telling her that they are better than slow horses and fast women.

Justthisguy said...

About 40 years ago, I rode for about 10,00 miles on motorcycles. The motorcycles were mostly two-strokes. I had several very narrow escapes from being run down and squashed flat by people in cars.

Nonetheless, I think my motorcycle time was good for me, as making me a a better car driver; that is, I look in all directions at all times.

Justthisguy said...

Conan, we have a word for those people here. The word is "squid", that is someone who is limp, and smells bad, and has no hard objects about him; no helmet, no boots, and etcetera and undsoweiter.

Now that the state of Flarduh, in which I have the misfortune to have to reside, has changed the laws about wearing helmets on motorcycles, so that people with a certain amount of certified insurance can ride bare-headed, I see lots and lots of people riding motorcycles and wearing not only no helmets, but no shirts, and no shoes.

What planet are these people from?

Justthisguy said...

Dammit, Hog, I believe the Vanson Leathers Company has some excellent leathers which will both keep one cool in Florida (lotsa little holes in the leathers) and save one from having his skin scraped off while sliding along the road.

Hogdayafternoon said...

JTG: Your comments are hilarious and true! When i went out to the Wild West in 2003 for a ride around the old trails I wore a Joe Rocket "Phoenix" airmesh jacket. The best garment I've ever owned. My compadres who rode in T shirts, across Death Valley, were burning up, whilst me and Mrs HD were hot, but not unbearably so. The Joe Rocket "Phoenix" is the best garment in biking, IMO. I use it whenever I can in the UK `summers`.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Tadanori: Ditto, Hilarious! Keep in touch.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Anon: Excellent. I am having a larrrf this evening reading your quips. Stick around. I'll write up some more BS.

Justthisguy said...

Allow me to revise and extend my remarks, as they say in Congress.

I have never seen anyone riding a motorcycle actually barefoot, but have seen quite a few folks riding with flip-flops, AKA thong sandals, as their only footwear. I don't think those count as shoes when riding a motorcycle.

I'd not willingly throw a leg over a bike again unless I were able to spend a couple of kilobucks or so on leathers, helmet, and boots and gloves.

The boots would be the most expensively ouchy part, as they would have to be made to order. As a scrawny ectomorph, I have very narrow feet. They are 10 and a half A, with a double A heel. You can't buy those in the shoe shops any more. You are lucky to get a B.

When I was a kid, and even when I was a young man, I could go into any shoe shop and buy a pair which fit me exactly at a reasonable price.

These days, it seems you can have anything you want in shoes, except your size.

Hogdayafternoon said...

JTG: You need to visit Alt-Berg boots in Richmond, North Yorkshire, sir. Although I ride in a pair of Matterhorns by HH Brown of Pennsylvania. Military boots like the ones I had in the tactical firearms unit, but the best biker boots I've ever had - so far. EG: at the end of a 200 mile ride in pissing rain, the only thing left dry were my feet :)

Justthisguy said...

Funny about foot shapes, it is. I remember pics from The Great War showing the boots of Tommies laced completely closed, just like the ones I'm wearing now. I also saw pics of the Germans marching in boots with no laces at all. If I were to try that, you betcha I would fall out with huge bleeding blisters on both heels after a mile or two.

Before we started letting everybody else in, the average American foot used to be more like the English one. And yes, I am much more English than Elizabeth II, as in 100% English by ethnicity.