So, today was Bike Trip One – Going to see Bike One, in Orrell, 50 miles, three trains, a bus, and a short, muddy hike away. Thankfully, I was spared most of the short muddy hike by the bike’s current keeper driving down to the railway station to collect me. Whilst out, I also dropped off the change bucket that I’ve been storing up since 2007 at the bank, and found myself £106 richer than I thought.
It’s a good looking bike – 2005 Suzuki Marauder (In a colour I can only describe as “Utter twattock red”, and thus perfect), 30,000 miles on the clock (owch), Cat Ced more than five years ago for “something cosmetic” which has since been repaired (The painted parts of the bodywork are pristine), lost most of its chrome (mope), but it’s like riding a Shetland pony – Short and fat and heavy, not particularly quick, but comfortable, comfortable. It’s got saddlebags and a sissy bar, so at some point it was evidently someone’s two-person long-distance ride, even if recently it’s been a to-university-and-back vehicle for a lone student. It’s promising, and it’s a few hundred quid below market value, due to it taking up too much space in the owners’ garage.
There’s basically a slack handful of companies that I’m looking at (Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki), either a custom-cruiser or a commuter bike, but since at 125-size the difference is negligible I basically mean “Any unfaired or minimally-faired bike, with a comfy, upright-ish riding position, room to carry stuff, and preferably a teardrop fuel tank and wire-spoke wheels because I am a complete fool for pretties”, and with a budget under about a grand, since that leaves me with money enough to pay my tax and insurance, get my theory certificate, and some Big Bike (Direct Access) lessons before taking my test.
My travel radius to find said bike is, apparently, about fifty miles – That covers my city, all the other cities and towns in its conurbation, and the nearest big cities to the north, south, and west. This of course leaves the problem that I might have to do my first solo ride, on a new bike, on unfamiliar roads and up to a distance of fifty miles, after a rail journey of, apparently, up to about three hours once I’ve allowed for the bus to my railway station, changing trains in little towns and taking branch lines into adorable villages where there’s only one train an hour.
Suddenly, it’s all the more obvious why I want a bike, and it’s not just about the fun of actually riding it – I want to be able to leave the city without having to take a whole day just to get to and from my destination. Today I spent seven hours travelling, for a half-hour of looking at a bike. This, in my world, is about normal. I used to travel two and a half hours each way to spend two hours a week volunteering at the Greyhound Trust. Likewise, I used to happily travel two or more hours each way to go to naginata or iaido practise, in three different cities. When I did roller derby, that was an hour’s commute, on two trains and a bus, three times a week. I can’t afford that much time now, but I bet that if I was a bit more independently mobile, thus with shorter journey times and less pressure (The difference between “ten minutes late” on the train, when missing a connection by a minute can make an hour’s difference at the other end, and “ten minutes late” in private transport, where that ten minutes is the same ten minutes at the end of the journey), I would get back into doing that sort of thing. Hence, bike.
And, after the ridiculously long day (Which started with me waking up at half past five to deal with the dog vomiting everywhere – He was fine, in the end, but it was terrifying for all of us) I decided to go for a swim. Well, it turns out that “Three bottles of Lucozade and a flapjack on the train” isn’t exactly the breakfast of champions, so tonight’s swim was slow and disheartening. On the other hand, I’m now sleepy and warm, and have license to go to sleep. Tomorrow, all I have to do is phone a couple of bike sellers (Two more GZ125s, one of them closer to home) and maybe think about ringing around for double glazing, since the house is starting to leak.
And the day after that, I might be going to Cleethorpes on holiday. Three holidays on the beach within the year – Look at me being decadent!