Saturday, April 18, 2009


We've been watching Long Way Down, Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor's documented trip from John o'Groats, Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. We're at the part where Ewan's wife joins them, just inside the Malawi border. Eve's relatively new to motorbiking* at this point, and I can't help but feel a certain Anne Shirley-esque kinship because of that. Here you've got a woman of certain age, willingly learning something new and wanting to do so because then she can share that interest with her husband. Sounds like a kindred spirit to me! Except Eve doesn't do all that well and regularly drops the bike. So, over the last day and a half, every time something's gone awry with me and my bike, I've chirped out, "But I'm better the Eve! I haven't dropped it!"

The question is, though, how much better. And I'd have to honestly say, not really better at all - just differently bad. To wit:
  • On my way in yesterday, I discovered the crash bar works, which is just another way of saying, "I hit something". Typical newbie mistake - I misjudged the width of something and clipped the crash bar on a landscaping trailer.
  • On my way home yesterday, I came upon some serious traffic in Germantown and the Falls. Since I'm still gaining confidence with my low-speed and walking skills (motorcycle walking, not two-legs walking) (though there are days when I wonder if I have those skills, too), I got a little panicked at the thought of creeping and crawling along in a line of cars and tried to find a side street to loop me back somewhere at least less congested. This was a great plan until my bike started to not run. Rolling along, and then sput-sput-sputter-off. I ran out of gas....
  • Still out of gas, I flipped the petcock (hee!) to reserve. Or, what I thought was reserve.... I managed to get nearly 5 blocks from home before the fuel in the bowls was completely exhausted. Had I flipped it to the correct reserve (instead of cutting the fuel off entirely, d'oh!), I'd've made it home no problem. Instead, the Mighty Swede cycled up and spotted me a half gallon or so of petrol*.
I will admit that I was a little spooked this morning, given my adventure yesterday, but rather than look at my mistakes, I've rewritten them as positive experiences. So I clipped the crash bar. It did no damage (to my bike), the crash bar did it's thang, and most importantly, I did not lose control of the bike. Go me! And, yeah, I ran out of gas. But, in each instance, I was able to get the bike out of traffic and thus avoid becoming part of an even bigger traffic jam. And, I'm also fairly certain that I won't ever again confuse the lever on the petcock (hee!!!).

Eve and I are probably tied right now in terms of road skills. Yeah, she's fallen and dropped her bike at least a dozen times, but she's always gotten right back on it and tried it again. I've commited all kinds of stupid mistakes, and yet I'm still upright. In a sense, I suppose it is all good.

*Motorbike and petrol are courtesy of McGregor and Boorman. They've gotten into my head, what with their accents and vocabulary and shit.