So, it snowed. I took my motorcycle to work… to say something suprising, I did not freeze to death. No, really. I wasn’t even very cold. I was pretty chilly coming back, to be fair, but I think that was more down to poor preparation on my part. At any rate, there I was doing my best michelin man impression, wearing Thermal top (Canadian), Thermal longsleeved T (Alaskan), Hoodie (cheers Trey!) and my motorcycle gear in it’s winter configuration (extra layer of insulation). My fingers, they got quite chilly; my toes were cold, (only can squeeze two layers of socks in there). The ride, though, was not nearly as bad as I was expecting – and my little Cherry Red Zed, she took me all the way to work without missing a beat. Leaked oil everywhere, but ran like a little ‘zed should.
I sat in an interesting course about wound management all day. Should you be feeling particularly keen, I’ll tell you about it :-)
And then at 4:30 I put my bike gear back on and headed off, by now the snow which was covering the ground and making things a bit dicey this morning had gone. Gone gone gone. So I pootled. At the first corner, things nearly went sideways. The bike slithered slightly on the (presumably diesel soaked) road – gently backing off very slightly we made it round, and I flew down the M25. A bit of filtering in some stationary traffic and I was off, onto the M4. It was about halfway down the M4 that a thought hit me. It was the kind of thought that made me as paranoid as the devil in god’s hottub.
I’d left a rather important piece of my safety gear propped at the end of my bed. Where I’d moved it so it’d not be ‘as cold as the wall’ in the morning. My back protector. My favourite bit of motorcycling kit. After this revalation I rode like a saint. Unfortunately, these revelations have a tendancy to wear off, especially when spurred to forget (as I was) by the bike going “…and no”. Which it did, when it ran out of fuel. Fortunately I was in the slow lane and headed off the highway onto the hard shoulder. I wasn’t quite quick enough switching to reserve, so had to hop off and re-kickstart the bike (you loose these skills). After a brief interlude we were back and back protector all forgotten, filtering like a demon. Well, a very civilised, quiet demon; the kind that still sticks to rules like ‘no more than 15 miles an hour faster than the surrounding traffic’ and so on.
I came off the motorway, made it through Slough and up to near my house, where there’s a motorbike overtaking lane (or hashed area) and almost always a queue. Taking advantage of this lane I trundled up the queue and indicated left as I approached my *KEEP CLEAR* junction. The lights ahead were red as I drew level with the car at the head of the queue, stopped for the ‘keep clear’ zone. Some part of my animal brain alerted me, the driver had started to move, my left-turn, dubious as it was before hand was now going to be a left turn into a moving car…
…I braked hard, and sometimes luck is your pillion, despite the front wheel locking and me having to release some braking effort I came to a stop. The driver carried on, unaware, because he didn’t bother to check his mirrors.
Fortunately, the driver behind let me through…and I made it home without further incident. I fully admit, I should not have done that left turn, tiredness and a desire to be at home in the ‘warm’ overrode very basic bike skills. I am, as I would say, a dumbass. But it underwrote the importance, to me, of wearing my bike gear… and when I’m driving, of checking those mirrors and blind spots, because while I only do it when I’m dumb, couriers and take-away delivery guys, they do it all the time…
So yeah. Safe, but very lucky.