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Yesterday Z and I ended up wondering around Covent Garden until we found a place that was open late and willing to sell us Tapas at reasonable prices, and then afterwards he gave me a lift home on his motorbike.

For the most part [that is after I had overcome my initial abject terror] it was wonderfully exciting and I enjoyed myself hugely [i shall also enjoy not telling my mother about this, lest she take it upon herself to enjoy chasing Z with a pitchfork].

Before last night I had been on a bike years ago in the American Midwest, and I remember not having any suitable shoes and having to borrow a guy's pair of sneakers [which were somewhat larger than my feet]. It was the height of summer and my helmet looked incongrous perched on top of my short-sleeved form, and the roads were vast and silent and gently-rolling-strightforward and empty and I remember having had a great time and even managed to remember to not burn myself on the exhaust pipe. [The fact that London roads contain none of these elements had not made a significant impression until I was on the bike hurtling between cars at 50mph].

So buoyed up by that positive experience, I was feeling somewhat excited about riding on a bike again with someone I trusted and it wasn't until we were standing by the bike and I was attempting to stuff my cranium into a helmet and Z was checking to see that my shoelaces were tucked in and my scarf wasn't fluttering behind me that I felt the beginnings of panic.

Of course, at any point I could have changed my mind - that was not a problem. If I decided I'd felt insecure, then we would have said goodbye and kissed and I would have gone home on the bus with no hard feelings. But I was reassured by my past experiences and the fact that he'd ridden bikes for ten years without accident [before he became an eingeneer he supported himself through being a courier and delievering pizzas]. So I reiterated to my guardian angel the importance of keeping a particularly close eye on me now, please, adjusted the helmet, buttoned up my denim jacket and hopped onto the back of the bike, seated myself as comfortably as possible for a person hunched over and grabbed hold of Z's jacket.

And then we were off! His bike is a beautiful thing and it sprang to life with a passion of a young buck and before I had time to scream, or have second thoughts we were barelling down across cobblestone and into traffic.

The night was crisp and clear and so were the thoughts in my head. Particularly the thoughts that said things like:
"Right now you have a plastic hat and some denim standing between you and destruction"
"The traffic in London is really very very dense and we are going very very very fast and the windlash is certainly extremely cold and fucking hell it is so not the middle of summer"
"Oh my God, if this thing crashes it's going to hurt A LOT"
"I am going to die"
"That commercial about watch out for the driver who didn't see you"

I especially thought of these things as the bike slid along the middle of the road between buses and cars like Indiana Jones throwing himself through narrow openings and escaping collapsing walls.

Nonetheless, by the time we had found our way out of Trafalgar Square my paralysing terror and convinction of imminent demise had receded to a Deep Apprehension as I consoled myself with thoughts such as:
"Z is an excellent driver. He knows exactly what he is doing. He hasn't had a crash in ten years of riding, the roads are not slippery, and we'll be just fine".

In the initial stages of diving-between-traffic I had shut my eyes so as not to watch myself get splatted across a bus, but after five minutes of nothing-bad-happening I decided to keep my eyes peeled on the road watching out for any vehicles or obstacles, and as Deep Apprehension receded into Major Adrenaline Rush I started to enjoy myself immensely.

It was great! We were going fast and we weren't going to die! There was a wonderful sort of exhiliration in it all and I'm sure I'll enjoy myself more when I steal one of Z's spare biker jackets and therefore won't be Fucking Freezing.

Afterwards, Z complimented me on being a marvellous pillion and I must say we have my keen sense of survival to thank for that.
e.g. if the bike is turning a corner with some cars alongside, and Z is bending towards the ground with the turn, am I going to jump around causing us to wobble and hit some big fucker made of metal or concrete? Hell no. I am going to stick to him like his own shadow and bend with the line of his body in the same direction at the same speed.

And it was fun! It truly was! It was terrific and laugh-out-loud exciting and I want to do it again [when my joints feel up to it - cold wind is not good for arthritis]. I especially want to do it again in summer when there are possibilities of cruising around Richmond Park or going to Brighton.
Wheeeeee! Bike joy!
I can see why he loves it.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 10th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)

Once, when I was little, I got to ride on the back of a policeman's motorbike. It was at the school fair, and the policeman lifted me up and sat me down and said to HOLD ON VERY TIGHT and we went up and down my village high street. It was brilliant, but terrifying.

I think you're brave going on a motorbike in London. I think if I did it I'd go Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhh!!!! the whole way
May. 10th, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC)
I think if I did it I'd go Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhh!!!! the whole way

Oh yes, me too!
May. 10th, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC)
if you trust the driver, it's really not so bad... :)
May. 10th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC)
The only person who's ever offered me "a go" is my b/f's stepdad and he's a bit too scary!
May. 10th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC)
my one and only pillion ride was through inner Birmingham as a student, with someone I trusted less. I was - er - terrified.

I do think I'd be OK driving a motorbike, I could cope with that.

With things like this I am somehow jealous of people who can let go in such circumstances, enjoy the exhilaration rather than feel the fear...
May. 10th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Z says he is anxious if he is the passanger. I suppose it has something to do with perceptions of control.

On the other hand I am incredibly anxious as a driver, and prefer to leave the responsibility to someone else [provided it's someone I trust].

May. 10th, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC)
I think if I hadn't trusted the rider I would have been going AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrghhhh all the way too. But I felt confident in the knowledge that he is a safe rider and that he didn't want bad things to happen to either him or me. :)
May. 10th, 2005 02:41 pm (UTC)
MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm bikes... Bikes..... I SO need to get me a bike, and when i have some money, i shall indeed to JUST that.

I remember the first time i was a pillion, and i got congratulated for knowing to bend into the corner. Well Duh, if the rider is bending, I'm hardly about to try and sit bolt upright! :o)

*bike love*
May. 10th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC)
*bike love back*

I remember the first time i was a pillion, and i got congratulated for knowing to bend into the corner. Well Duh, if the rider is bending, I'm hardly about to try and sit bolt upright! :o)

exactly :D
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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