I was sitting outside the Garbeth Inn, a famous biking pub that lies about five miles outside Glasgow. Drink in hand watching the more enthusiastic of us tearing up and down the Stockiemuir road on a variety of machines, mostly GPzs. I'd just had a pleasant chat with a couple of guys from England on a Kawa RX1000, the usual small talk - nice view here, yeah great, nice machine you've got there, etc. Turns out they are on holiday with their girl friends who had given them the day off to go and mix it with the local bikers (in the nicest possible way). Anyway, we talked for a while and then they finished their drinks (orange juice) and went off to meet their girl friends.
I stayed for a bit and pondered on the injustice of a world that allows the beauty of a RX1000 to co-exist with the likes of a clapped out CB550 and then finished my drink (large one) and set off to feed the cat. I felt like flicking on the auto-pilot as I rode down the familiar road. Up through the gears until you brake hard for the sharp right hander that takes you to the first of the jumps. The most vicious of these lines lies at the end of a fast left that allows you to take it at 80 to 90mph.
This usually results in the repositioning of your backside to somewhere in the middle of your back and knackered front fork seals. I saved the medical and mechanical expense by taking it at sixty (well no-one was looking). Then down through the gears for a sharp right and hard on the brakes for the ambulance in the middle of the road.
The guys on the RX1000 had died. It wasn't anybody's fault. No-one had pulled out of a side road and the road was dry and in fair condition. The bike they were riding had the best tyres money could buy, terrific brakes and state of the art suspension and chassis. Yet they had crashed and been killed. Another biker who had been riding behind said it looked like the driver of the RX had given it a handful and the back end had spun away - he was doing about 70mph when this happened...
Power, power, power - this one will lift the front wheel at a hundred, son. It's just what you need, only £3995 buy it today.
I refuse to accept the usual romantic crap such events usually bring on - man and motorcycle on tough demanding road, followed by three or four lines in the small ads: To Johnny, rode free and died young, see you on that big highway in the sky. Tell that to his mother.
What I'd like to know is what's the bloody point of owning a motorcycle that has enough power to hit 150-60-70-80 mph? Is it some indication of your skill as a rider? 1 think not, on most British roads a well sorted 500 of Italian, British or Japanese origin with a competent rider will be just as fast and probably more enjoyable than the mega-bikes that are available now. Is it an indication of how you stand relative to the society you live in (how much cash or bottle you've got)? The answer to this has to be yes, even if it is to a lower degree and with less hypocrisy than car owners. Is it some Freudian thing about your virility? I'll leave that one open for I'm no psychologist and I'd like my friends to speak to me occasionally.
Eleven people have died on the Stockiemuir road, most of them on bikes that were wildly overpowered for an eight foot wide B-road. Let's face it, it's all very well being Randy Mamola when you've got a thirty foot wide track, run off areas lovingly cultivated with nice soft grass, and a team of paramedics on hand. But try lying at the side of some godforsaken road in the middle of nowhere waiting for an ambulance while your mate tries to put your leg back together. No fun.
So what's the point of all this? I'm a bit nonplussed myself, biking's in my blood and I can't see myself ever giving it up but I'm pissed off at seeing people spread all over the road, so I think this is a call for self regulation but above all sanity. There's always going to be the plonker that pulls out on you but most of the time your destiny lies in your own hands - the right one to be precise.
So the next time you're in the dealers being given some spiel about the latest mega-machine, stand back and ask yourself do you really need this? And if the answer is no, then start hunting down that used bargain this magazine's so keen to promote. Oh yeah, buy your mum something with the change.