Bogri's Spring Ride
I had primed up the blowtorch and started to burn off the winter protective layer of gunge from the Vinny, two winters actually, forgot to clean it last year. There was a suspicion of spring in the air. To confirm it Malcolm had dusted out his crash helmet and paid me a call.
"Going for a run?" he asked brightly.
"Yeah, why not?" I agreed. After all it was a couple of hours to opening time. I pushed the bike outside and glanced up and down the road.
"Where's your bike, Malc?"
"Still in bits." replied Malcolm. That's how he bought it.
"Gonna run in your plimmies?" I asked.
"You've got a pillion seat." While I buckled my helmet Malcolm amused himself trying to start the Vinny. It's the only exercise he gets so I let him lather up for a few minutes to draw the petrol through. Then I started up and away we went.
It's a bit of a menace getting clear of town and the engine was fluffing and missing. Time for a good blast to blow out the winter cobwebs so I headed for some of the quieter country roads. After half an hour the bike was loosening up nicely and I was beginning to get that itchy feeling. In no time we were into the flat roads out east and turning it on. In an hour we were really buzzing, scratching on the bends and burning up the straights. Malcolm was getting fidgety but didn't get much chance to move or say anything; he hardly dare stay on for the corners and hardly able to stay on for the straights. I'll teach him how to put a motorbike together!
We pulled out of a bend and screwed it in second. Malcolm's feet came up under my armpits but went down again as I engaged third. The needle shot up to a ton on the approach to a slight hill. As we hit the crest we hit fourth. With everything airborne including the gearbox, Malcolm's scream sounded lonely and piercing but his fingers caught the fringe of my leather jacket and he stayed on. The tyres bit as we landed and we surged down the hill. I pursed my lips to stop the wind turning them inside out and squinted at a level crossing a mile down the road. With a ton on the clock and quarter mile to go the lights started blinking. It was instinctive to turn up the throttle. I pulled down on the handlebars and squinted for the first movement of the barrier. Malcolm groaned and buried his nose in my back. Ton twenty five at three hundred yards and the barrier started to close.
When in Doubt - Chicken Out!
Grabbed the brakes and sat up straight. Malcolm hit me like a sack of bricks, nose first. Good job he is only eight stone. The girders creaked, the brakes squealed and hissed, the tyres slid and smoked. Three long seconds crawled by like a slow motion dream. Down to eighty yards and still doing seventy with the back end bumping and the brakes fading. From this distance I reckoned that flat on the tank we could just duck the barrier so I flattened down on the tank again. The air blast nearly took Malcolm's head off but it gave him a clear view of the railway barrier and the train. I sat up again and gave another heave on the front brake. - oh God, don't let the cables break! Thirty yards to go and we seemed to have stopped but the clock still said fifty and we were still closing fast on the crossing. If only it wasn't downhill. By twenty yards I knew we were OK and could even ease off the rear brake and bring the back end under control. Malcolm however thought we were gonners. His feet went down and his elbows came up ready to cast off. I flattened down on the tank once more to give him a clear view. We arrived with front wheel under the barrier just as the train crossed.
For half a minute the train rattled by and we just sat watching it. I could feel Malcolm shaking through the suspension. The bike was red hot. The brakes glowed, the engine steamed and the smell of burnt rubber pervaded the air.
"Can you smell that?" I asked, innocently.
"Smell it?..." cackled Malcolm, "...Smell it? Wha'd'ya' mean smell it! I'm sitting in it!"