Stuff everything, I've always got my bike

It’s getting closer and closer... it’s so close I can almost feel it...

It’s February and the temperature is already in double digits... possibly due to global warming. March is just around the corner and all I need are three or so more degrees.... I don't like being cold; and I don't like being wet; and I don't like being wet and cold, so winter riding is for others.

The trickle-charger has been doing its stuff all winter and a couple of weeks ago I fettled; communing with the ghost in the machine. Grime from the Edinburgh trip is still there, dulling the shine of Milwaukee’s best plating shop. Let it be there. A souvenir, a reminder of an epic trip.

It felt good.

It sounded good.

The garage floor vibrated away as the engine gradually warmed up and I eased the choke off bit by bit; the bars and headlamp seemed to toss like a horse’s head impatient to be out of the confines of the stable and on the gallop, taking in deep gulps of fresh air.

After the build up of tension during the winter layoff I’m so looking forward to the first ride. The sense of anticipation is palpable: I sniff the air and decide, not today. Heat from the sun is there, but still too feeble. Ah! To be set free, to fly. The sensation of the build of torque, propelling the bike faster and faster, skimming over the blurred black surface, wind blasting my face, eyes shielded by shades.

Push to the left, she turns to the right. Push to the right, she turns to the left. Counter-intuitive counter-steering makes even a laid back, lard-arsed, long wheel-based Harley shimmy around roundabouts; though sparks fly from the pipes as they dig in, carving a curving graffiti tag “I’ve been here.”

Filtering past those monotonous, monstrous, snake-like car parks on motorways, A-roads and B-roads. Getting from A to B via C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X & Y, just for the sheer delight; just because you can; for the hell of it. Where does this go? What a road! Three hours is my record, from Langley to Maidenhead, 15 minutes on the M4.

To feel the throttle - there - right there, with my flying gloved hand wrapped around it... the engine changes note with the tiniest of movements. The machine responds. Blurred images in the wing mirrors. Those wonderful, delightful, dangerously hypnotic reflections flowing across the curved chrome of the single headlamp casing; the distorted and forever changing images in the bullet-shaped housings for the indicator lights.

The heat of the engine with it’s steady, steady reassuring, dependable, thrumming heart beat. Deep down bass; heard through the bones. Felt. Experienced. Like nothing else. A gear change; agricultural compared to some, but still, a clutchless gear change judged just so will drop the bike smack into the middle of the torque curve and off we go again, a quest to meet the never ending horizon...

Open-face helmet. Wind, dust, dirt, smoke, smells, rain, bugs, sun; an all-immersive experience. Ah! An indescribable sensation... Eyes water. Vision blurs. Sensing other traffic, knowing what they are going to do before they’ve even got a clue; leave before they’ve even woken up. Roadcraft.

And it will be good.

So...