December 8, 2013 · Uncategorized

Been a while since I last mentioned anything about bikes (or posted at all!). That was at the end of August when I’d just got the new bike. Since then I’ve done about 1500 km over various rides including the A62 to Manchester and the A64 to York. I’m still on a provisional licence so motorways are still out, but the dualled bits of the A64 between the A1(M) junction and York itself are probably pretty similar. A couple of weeks after I got the bike I also rode over to Squires bikers’ cafe on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday. Visiting my mum and introducing her to both the bike and the one piece suit was fun:

Bike and suit

Most of my riding is around Leeds, and I have to say that the inner loop road is a serious pain at times. The inner ring road has motorway regulations despite having a 40 mph speed limit so I’m not allowed on there. The inner loop is designed for clockwise travel, which is fine if you want to go that way round but not ideal if you want to go the other way. There are bits where you can go anticlockwise, but I’m sure they were designed by whoever did the store layouts at Ikea where it’s mandatory to go past a surfeit of tealights and couples having slow motion arguments about soft furnishings regardless of where you actually want to go.

Bike training is now on hold until Spring when there’s more daylight and I’ve got a bit more money to pay for lessons. At £160/day it’s not cheap, but at least I’m now on 600cc bikes.

Apart from getting used to the thing on the road, there’s also the biking culture to get into. I got involved with Leeds MAG because I used their website to find out about bike parking spots and I thought it made sense to get to know them and meet people who know far more about bikes then I ever will. Since I joined in July I’ve been to a few socials, both organized by MAG and by some of the other local bike clubs. (There’s a big difference between MCC clubs and MC ones. The MC clubs are the outlaw ones like the Hells Angels, Outlaws and Blue Angels. MCCs are bike clubs that are open to more or less anyone, but like most clubs they do have procedures and entry requirements).

I’m at a very early stage so I’m just getting to know people and find out what’s what. I can tell already just how important the bike scene can be to people’s lives. It’s very similar to the combat sports/martial arts scene (which I’ve been somewhat neglecting) but hopefully with less of the physical violence. A contraption that can go at high speeds with only a tiny point of contact on the ground is inherently dangerous so it’s not surprising that most bikers (me included) know people who have been killed or injured in accidents.

The next MAG event is a charity toy run. The idea is pretty simple: meet up at a central location, ride as a group, and then disburse toys at a local charity. This will be my first group ride so it will be interesting to see how it goes. I’m sure I’ll be fine but it’s just the thing of doing something for the first time. Finding toys has been tricky as most stuff I’ve found for girls features lots of pink plastic and words like “princess”. I know I’d probably be knee-capped if I gave most of the people I know presents like that, so it’ll probably be something like Lego or a jigsaw. There’s quite a few toy shops near me so it should be pretty easy to get something appropriate.

Next couple of MAG events after that are the fortnightly meeting (with cake! But you’ve got to bake it first. I’m thinking some sort of banana loaf, and a coffee and walnut cake) and then a couple of days later a band at a pub in town probably followed by a curry. Sounds like a good way to end the year before xmas.

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