Story by Bad Boy Wannabe Biker – Faizel
I have to get a bike. That was the monkey on my back for all of a month, growing larger day by day.
And it couldn’t be just any bike, it had to be a CBR 600 RR, it had the under seat exhaust pipes and the fighter jet look and made me drool every time I saw her. I would fondly name her Christine and we would live happily ever after. Being the super brave man that I am, I am selling my wife’s car to get the CBR as well (and I still sleep INSIDE the house – a testament to me already evolving into a bad boy biker). And then something catastrophic happened.
It was a stunning winter’s day in Durban, like most of them are. A wisp of chill in the air made the breeze more refreshing than cold. The bright sun peeked out from the lazy clouds under a gorgeous blue sky. My kit was next to me in the Yaris as I made my way to visit a dealer that was willing to swop my wife’s Yaris for a 2009 CBR 600 RR. Face to face with the bike of my dreams, she looked stunning in HRC colours. At first glance my emotions were both awe and intimidation. And then the owner started the bike up and she quickly turned into “the girl you never asked out in high school cos she would publicly humiliate you”. But this is what I have always wanted, so I brushed aside my fear, put on my kit and took the owner up on his offer of a test ride on my dream machine in the basement. Up to that point in time, the total sum of my bike riding experience was 1 day of MRC training with Hein on a 150cc bike in an open parking lot with lots of space. I was now on a powerful machine in a much smaller basement with lots of pillars and even more cars. I switched the bike off 3 times trying to take off which made the owner even more nervous than me J. Eventually I get going and in my usual fashion potter around the basement. The ride was all of 2 minutes but it was one of the scariest 2 minutes of my life. The bike felt big, heavy, way too powerful and I could see myself easily getting into all sorts of trouble. I thank the relieved owner and left.
The drive home was a quiet one with me deep in thought; shattered dreams have that effect on a person. Was my wannabe biker journey going to end as quickly as it started? It took all of one night for me to hatch plan B. I need a smaller bike – CBR 250R to the rescue. Within a few days and after consultation with the ever helpful Hein I visited a dealer, signed the deal and my brand new CBR 250, LadyC, is delivered home. I decide to only ride really early in the mornings or late at nights when there is little to no traffic. My first ride goes well without too much drama, except with a few cars getting too close for comfort. And the primary reason for that, yes you guessed it – riding too slowly. I think my better half was more relieved than I upon me arriving home in one piece. Every day that week I grew braver, riding a bit further and a bit faster than I did the previous day.
With all of that I still managed to embarrass myself a lot on the bike. What with me being the first person in my extended family with a bike, I get an audience when I arrive and leave when visiting relatives. Switching off when taking off is my favourite party trick. Parking badly comes in a close second. No pressure while everyone is watching you and you are trying to reverse the bike uphill using the foot-o-matic reverse gear. I keep learning with every ride and now give up my “night rider” title and venture out during the day and take the bike on the freeway. An apt comparison of 80km/h to 120km/h on a bike is a breadknife compared to a chainsaw. Wind, wind and more wind. I now know what the bobble head dog at the back of car feels like. Hein has a nice article on his website to help deal with the wind when riding.
Weeks go by and LadyC and I are now pretty comfortable. I don’t switch off, park better, ride better and feel more confident. My plan was 2000km on LadyC for experience and then move onto a bigger bike, Plan B – the sensible approach. And with me not being so sensible, plan C kicks in after a paltry 500km’s. Honda has a special on the CBR 600. Okay, so it’s the “F” and not the RR. It has a detuned version of the RR motor and pumps out a healthy 75kW. I want one.
LadyC is traded in and I pick up my CBR 600 F. The first ride is much better as I kinda know what I am doing. The bike feels grown up with a smoother ride, smoother clutch and smoother gear changes. It also comes with a scientific formula, the amount you twist the throttle is directly proportionate to the smile you have on your face. Moving from 20kW to 75kW is pure awesomeness. It’s amazing to have available power in all gears and she accelerates quicker than anything I have ever driven. The 600 F is fondly named Celia (from Monsters Inc.) as she is my little monster and will be until Plan D comes into play.
I have learnt that there are many perils when riding a motorcycle.
We can start with drivers – see if you can spot them when riding
- The Weaver –enjoys straddling in your lane, even when driving at slow speeds, to see if you panic and go into the bush
- The Serial Braker – brakes for no apparent reason, commonly seen on the fast lane of any freeway/highway
- The Fashion Police – will tail you unnecessary closely, I can only presume it’s to see what brand of jeans I am wearing
- Petrol Watcher – tries to save petrol by not indicating when turning. Has also found a way to reduce consumption by not switching lights on at night
I haven’t found ways of properly dealing with all of them, largely due to me being unable to operate a bazooka while riding. Normally riding as far away as possible from all of them or slowing down to let them pass helps. The slowing down may be bad for the ego but it is really good for the preservation of skin and bones.
Then there are dogs. The worst bunch of roaming dogs in my area is on a road with speed bumps, so I can’t speed off when they try to chase me. I have tried to avoid that road altogether. Sticking to main roads helps as the roads are too busy for owners to be negligent with their dogs.
High speed bends are still scary for me. Where most bikers love the twisties, I tend to pucker up when approaching a bend and talk myself through it. My main problem is that I don’t know my limits or the limits of the bike. I guess that will come in time and with more training.
Well that’s it for my 1500 km update. It’s been a fantastic journey with each ride being special in its own way. I have learnt a lot and met some interesting, helpful and wonderful people. Am I still a wannabe biker? I think so and will get my biker stripes when I start enjoying the bends. If you see me on the roads, please wave. How would you recognise me you ask? I am the guy that trucks are overtaking on bends.