Tuesday 15 September 2009

Crash bang wallop

I've always puzzled at why people smoke, in the full knowledge that it's likely to finish you off early in a nasty way. I guess that at heart we're all gamblers. But I don't smoke.

On the road, I ride either my gorgeous Vespa or my staggeringly scary KTM (MLC - AG). I love the freedom and fresh air and seeing the tarmac disappear beneath the bike. In London, the Vespa is really the only way to get around - I can weave in and out of traffic jams and get from a to b in half the time of any other mode of transport...apart from the cycle. It's a lot of fun, but I'm pretty careful and get left in the dust by teenage tearaways who've just discovered the freedom that two wheels bolted to an engine can give you.

But there is an inevitability with bikes. At some stage, sooner or later you will come off. No matter how careful you are, it's as certain as bears pooing in the woods...

So I've never understood why anyone would ride without appropriate protective clothing. I suspect for boys/men a scar is proof positive of their manhood...like a big tattoo, but more painful to acquire. But it quite breaks my heart to see women/girls on the back of their boyfriend's bike with nothing more than a t-shirt and short-skirt to protect their modesty. I have a pair of motorcycle trousers and the label says, "Helps prevent muscle stripping." That's a powerful visual phrase. A friend told me that if you come off at 30 mph, it takes 0.3 seconds to go from skin to bone. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Sheer agony. And effectively irreperable. Not a good look in a bikini.

I've had three significant tumbles on the Vespa in the last seven years - the first was when I used to take the boy to school on the back. We skidded on gravel at the traffic lights and both tumbled off. I was completely unscathed, he broke his foot. He's forgiven me; I haven't. The second was at the bottom of the Lane, a car hurtled round the corner leaving me to slip on a wet drain cover into the bushes. I carried on to work, had lunch with a client and then went to hospital...and got my broken arm strapped up. No wonder I'd been sweating all morning. Today, I rounded a bend I've been on a thousand times. The wheels just skipped away from me as I crossed some gravel and I tumbled to the floor. I've severely broken my over-inflated ego, but apart from that the only injury is a bruised thigh. The bike is scratched and dented; it'll cost a pretty penny to fix (but not worth claiming on the insurance). My kevlar-reinforced jeans are scuffed, but fine. Hurrah. And the little widget for my phone is dented....deeply upsetting as I dislike my phone, so it would have been a good thing for it to have been flattened. The real peculiarity is that my shirt is ripped to shreds on the left shoulder, even though the jacket was unscathed. Odd.

Oh and sorry, Grandma in Cyprus, I know you don't like reading about these things


  1. So glad you are all right (well, apart from the shirt and the bruised thigh!) Greg used to ride a motorbike and only stopped when he had an argument with some iron railings - the car to the left lane in front of him suddenly moved right into Greg's lane without indicating and Greg had to veer right to avoid going into him. He ploughed into some park railings and the bike was write-off. I have also sat behind him on motorbikes on Greek holidays with little else than a pair of shorts. Sheer cliff drops to the side of us. (Shudder - you don't think of the dangers when you are young!)

  2. Bad luck. Glad you're OK though even if the bike suffered.

  3. Bummer! really pleased you are ok. Feel the Widget photo is good for a charity "what is it" quiz. On holiday in Greece in the 80's I was the only girly who refused to get into back of boyfriends bike and I spent the day alone on the beach whilst they all toured the island - actually whilst I still know it was the right thing I rather regret it and I have still never been on a motor bike - something I must change.

    And I rather like the man in the tight motor bike trousers and I will take this over the manboy in shorts every time!

  4. Glad you're okay. Our friends ride bikes and they can never understand why people wear non-kevlar clothing. It is beyond stupid.

  5. I'm glad you're okay x you, me and the boy had that very conversation just on Sunday in the car !

  6. Glad you're ok. I ride a push bike and it's exactly the same, you have to accept that you will come off it every so often. Sadly lycra doesn't afford much protection!


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