Blimey, I ache, but what an adventure!
I set off at around 8:30am this morning to meet my friend Simon (work colleague) by the roadside cafe in Coulsdon. The plan: to scoff breakfast before we began heading down to Brighton together; alas, Simon text to say he was sick and not up for going, git. So I finished up my bacon sandwiches and headed off into the unknown (or Godstone) to meet my mate (and boss) Alan and his acquaintance Scott to begin our journey down to Brighton together.
Now, let me be perfectly frank, since passing my CBT earlier in the week I’ve done a few miles locally in and around Croydon/Sutton which was great fun; however the idea of riding 40 odd miles to Brighton and then back again was rather daunting to say the least. In fact, I was cacking myself at the prospect of having to keep up with two very experienced riders AND tackle just about every car/bike/soapbox racer from here to the seafront.
One thing I thought was really cool, was that other bike owners nod their head to you in a mark of respect; I really digged the camaraderie.
Learners like myself are not permitted to travel on the motorways, and although I was initially disappointed by this when I found out, I quickly changed my mind given that I realised you’d miss all the funky ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads that have so much to see compared to going on generic looking motorways. On the way down we passed through some really lovely country towns and villages including one of Alex’s favourites, Lewes, before eventually making it to the coast at around lunchtime. On a bike you feel so amazingly aware of your surroundings that you can’t help feel slightly relaxed when you pass through a gorgeous old town with lots of character after coming out of stressful London and it’s suburbs.
You probably know the sort of places I mean? A quintessential English village, frozen in time, with a token old man passing by the solitary convenience shop, walking his jack russell dog on the way to the pub for some pork scratchings? Had there been Morris dancers poncing about next to a game of cricket on the village green it would have been perfect. In fact, had this been the case then I probably would have impaled the Morris dancers with the spare set of stumps and sat watching the cricket instead of going any further.
Upon entering Brighton I felt a wave of pride as I saw the sea (ding ding ding ding, another pun!); it’s a bizarre thing really because I never expected it to matter in such a way because as far as I’m usually concerned it’s just going from one place to another (I can be a bit black and white like that, no pun intended). But in reality it felt like I’d really accomplished something today having not ended up in a tree like Marc Bolan; if you don’t know who he is, leave my blog now and never return!
The three of us parked up, had lunch (I had fresh cod and chips which was fantastic, cheers Scott!) and after a seafront stroll we headed back to London. It was bloody cold down there though, and even with three layers on including my jacket I felt chilled to the bone. So off we went again……that was until my right throttle housing decided to come lose, and considering that’s the bit you hold on to/make the bike go brrrm brrrm brrrm, probably not the best thing to fail on a bike going around a corner at 60mph. Goodbye testicles!
Luckily, I pulled over by a Kwik fit and the guy there tightened it up for me using an allen key (really nice chap, no charge) and off I went again……for about 2 miles when I broke down again. This time due to a lack of power (eventually found out it was because of a dodgy fuel tank supply tap). Bugger! I thought I was cursed, perhaps I’d been too elated at having made it down there in one piece and now I was now going to have to suffer the humiliation of being recovered back home. Worst still, my roadside policy is through work. Can you imagine the stick I’d have gotten from people in my office!?!?! I work with former army engineers and grease monkeys for gods sakes. I’d have had to give my notice in, no two ways about it. I’d rather french kiss Amy Winehouse after she’s smoked 20 Bensons than be recovered back home.
Luckily, Alan did a bit of a roadside tinkering and after a couple of road tests (and 2 more breakdowns) my bike was broken no more, and, after seeing my companions go their own way, I hammered it all the way home in time for tea and crumpets. My bike had never been better in fact and I’m happy to report it’s happily parked up in my garage whilst I sit here with my feet up and have a blanket over my legs keeping them warm. Rock and roll?
I had to post this picture, it’s at the point I’d taken my crash helmet off and was shaking my hair which hasn’t been cut for a month. Just in case you wanted to see firsthand the Anglo-Indian hair curse that I have to carry. Now, where’s the rum gone?