Giving Good Head On A Bike

Giving Good Head On A Bike

Most of you will have noticed that when bikers pass each other on the road, they exchange a nod.

This may be different for you ‘Merkins and Canuks, but I hope not?  In France it’s a wave done by dropping your hand as low as you can, and I suspect other countries have different greetings, but they should all have something!  It’s another of the things that makes us all feel like one big family.  I’ve seen the same from rare cars and things like VW Camper Vans.

Or that’s what it is on the surface.  Underneath it all, there is a massive amount of snobbery and discrimination going on!

Sportsbikers and Harley riders traditionally hate each other, so most will not nod – and many people on ‘big bikes’ of any kind won’t nod to anyone with L plates or on a scooter or small bike.

I nod to all of them:

Sportsbikers because we’re the coolest.

Learners and Ped Bwoi’s because when I got a nod back off a ‘proper’ biker when I was on a 125 it felt great, and who says they’re not on a crap courtesy bike or something?

Police (bikers) because I like their momentary surprise that someone’s offered a friendly acknowledgement – plus if they ever do pull me over maybe they’ll remember me.  wink

Harley/Tourer types because those that don’t nod still try to look so moody and serious, and it makes me laugh. big grin

Last year on my way to work every morning I would pass a little kid walking to school with his Mum.  He’d nod at me as I went by, so of course I nodded back, and that became our morning ritual – probably much to the amusement of him Mum!  Maybe he’ll be on a bike someday…

The only times I won’t nod is if I’m busy watching/doing something else, or if they’re coming the other way on motorways/dual carriageways at high speed and probably won’t be looking anyway.  And even they get The Nod sometimes.

So if you haven’t seen this going on, take a look next time you see bikes passing each other, and if you’re a biker yourself make sure you do your bit for making the world a happier place just by a tiny movement of yer noggin!

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Keeping Your Head Cool And Attached

Keeping Your Head Cool And Attached

Friday evening, and despite the rain I was looking forward to a weekend with Lil Boo.

I kitted up and got on my bike, carefully taping on my new MD80 micro DV camcorder to test it.  I wanted to see how the footage of the cheap £15 version compared to the £65 Veho Muvi Pro that arrived the day before.

A few minutes later I was cruising down the dual carriageway, following happily behind a BMW that was lolloping along at 100mph.

As he passed traffic in the left hand lane which was moving at almost the same speed, I followed him through.

As I neared the back of a small red car (let’s call him “Mr Twatbastard”), his indicator flicked on, flashing his intention to move to the right to overtake a car ahead of him.

I clocked this just as he swung directly into the lane where, well… I was!

This happens occasionally because most idiots are blind, ignorant and probably drunk.  Usually, they spot me as they move, and sheepishly move back into their own lane, disaster averted.  Not Mr Twatbastard.

Mr Twatbastard swung ALL the way into my lane.

I reacted and swerved hard right, straightening out as close as I could possibly get to the edge of the road.  I’m talking literally centimetres before the tarmac ended and it was gravel pits that you REALLY wouldn’t want to hit at walking pace, let alone 100mph – with of course razor sharp metal Armco barriers separating my lane from the oncoming traffic.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of crashes where the bike didn’t need to crash.  Most cars drive leaving some kind of gap between them and the curb or any traffic alongside them or oncoming.  In my experience this is usually a big enough gap to fit your bike in if you don’t panic.  If I’d have panicked here I’d have just ridden straight off the road into that barrier…

Instead, having gone as far as I could go, as calmly as I could, I reached out with my left hand and knocked on his drivers window.

I imagine he jumped out of his skin and I hope he died in his sleep that night, but sadly I couldn’t really look at him at that moment – either way it had the desired effect and he fucked off and gave me a bit of room.

Catching it all on the helmet cam would have been better, because you’d have seen my gesticulations and exaggerated clapping at him, but at least I got most of it on camera.

Despite all this, you have to let things like this go.  Well, I say that, but I did think of following him and smashing his stupid face in so badly that even Jimmy Nail would have been sick, but if you’re not going to do that there’s no point staying mad about it.  It’s done – you survived – get over it.  In this case he refused to even look at me after or acknowledge my existence, staring straight ahead and not even glancing at me!

If you don’t let it go you make mistakes…

Thirty seconds or so later I filtered through traffic approaching a busy roundabout.  As I got to the front I had to squeeze past a filthy great big truck.  You have to be careful here, because if they move off and turn you can very easily get squished.  Normally I’d have held back and waited, but still having my Murdering Face on, I chanced it.

As we were both at the front (with him completely blocking my line of sight to approaching traffic), I heard his engine revs rise as if he was quickly pulling away, so I gave it a big handful to beat him and get clear.

As soon as I did this my Spidey Senses were tingling.  I slammed the brakes on just before I cleared the front of the truck (which had now stopped dead again), and of course saw a car heading straight for me.

As the camera is mounted on the handlebars, you can see I used a fair bit of opposite lock as it all slid sideways, and stopped inches before the car sped past:

What more can I say?  That was totally my mistake – and luckily I got away with it.  Keep it safe out there, kids!

First Knee-Down Of The Year!

First Knee-Down Of The Year!

Tonight, coming home from work, it happened!

I was held at some traffic lights on an island after filling up with fuel facing a short 40 yard blast to one of my favourite knee-down corners.

A few cars pulled up by me so I knew it was on… Lights went green and I opened it up trying to get enough speed up without lifting the front, then dropped it into the corner whilst hanging off and

SCRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTCH

GET IN THERE!!!

It actually felt really good, because all we’ve had here for months is snow and ice and grit and rain all over the roads. I haven’t been able to lean the bike over at all for danger of dying to death in a filthy great big accident.

I’ve also been eyeing up trackdays for this year – today I even drew up a spreadsheet of potential days – but had a doubt in my mind about whether I was ready to get back on the track after months of being so careful in what I call Winter Survival Mode.

Now I’m chuffed to bits – the whole of the slider even went down flush rather than just about nicking an edge, so it was just about perfect and came nice and naturally.

So, does that mean it’s Officially Summer yet, or do I have to take the thermal lining out of my jacket first?

Spring, Tunnels and Tracks

Spring, Tunnels and Tracks

It’s actually a bit sunny today.  No snow at all!  Could it be the start of Spring??

To say I’m getting the itch to do a track day again would imply that the itch had ever actually gone away since I last thraped a bike around Oulton Park – but on days like today I start to cast my beady eye over real dates.

I even went for a ride around at lunch in the sun!

Of course, the World Superbike season kicked off yesterday – being a Pauper and only having Freeview TV channels I haven’t seen it yet.  I’ve downloaded one race and will hopefully watch the other on the website tonight.  Either way, after the long boredom of Winter, motor racing is finally back!

I’ve been itching to try out the new covert cameras that I intend to mount to my bike (you’ve all seen my helmet cam videos now, right?), and got around to it this weekend.

I have a slight dilemma of where and how to mount them, but looking for the easy option as usual I noticed that the brake fluid reservoir has a flat, upright surface behind the screen.  I got some foam to try and cut vibrations down and taped the sucker to it for a trial run!

I was a bit worried about how much of the view I’ll lose to counter-steering.  For those who don’t know (and it should be most of you because I had no idea until after I’d had a bike for a while), when you ride a bike at anything other than falling off speed, you actually turn the handlebars in the opposite direction to the one that you want to turn in.  Most of you will have doen the same thing on a bicycle without knowing it…  The problem with this is that if the camera is mounted on the brake reservoir (which in turn is mounted on the handlebar), will it leave the camera pointing at the sky when I’m banked over in the turns?

I headed out on the wet roads to Birmingham City Centre.

There are a series of tunnels on the ring road, where of course sporty machinery sounds bloody marvellous!  To my extreme pleasure, a Porsche, Audi RS4 and a Z350 all went flying by into the tunnels, and so it would have been rude not to catch up and have a play!

It sounded awesome!

Unfortunately, both the new cam and the helmet cam both failed to get any footage of this at all.  Bastard!

On the test footage I did get the sound goes really weird above about 5mph.  Maybe it’s vibrations so it might be fixable…

I’ll try a few more ideas and then switch to a new mounting point…

Ahh well – at least it looks like we’re on our way towards warm sunshine and hot, grippy roads again at last!