Three weeks in…

Today was one of the foggiest days I’ve seen in London. With this in mind what did I do? I rode Charlie to my Ultimate Frisbee tournament on the other side of London. I thought the fog would lift – it didn’t. It actually got worse throughout the day!

It’s been three weeks since I did my compulsory basic training (CBT) and I am feeling much more confident on the bike. I still don’t like being close to big vehicles like buses and trucks, and I am not confident enough to speed past lines of slow moving traffic, however today I managed to safely ride through difficult conditions and lots of traffic and that feels great.

I’ve made a few key purchases in the past three weeks, a pair of Alpinestars Gortex riding trousers and Hein Gericke riding boots (also Gortex and guaranteed waterproof). Those two items will be coming along on the Ultimate Ride.

I’m keen to buy a helmet, but am overwhelmed with the choices. For the moment I am wearing a Highway brand helmet that unfortunately does not have a visor over the face, it’s fine for now, but I am very aware that I need a better one.

The one I like most right now is this Shoei KR-1100

I think I need to do a bit more research though. Helmets are expensive and I am going to be wearing it every day for months and months, so it has to be right!



Male vs Female

Don’t you just hate it when you can’t tell if someone is a man or a woman? From babies to oversized “women” in the tube, it’s embarrassing not to be sure.

From when I picked up my new bike (a Yamaha YBR 125) I have not been sure whether it is male or female. This, among other reasons,  is why she has now been named Charlie.

I first asked my friends on Facebook what to call my new ride, and the suggestions ranged from “Dribbler” (this from my friend who has recently become a mother) to “Corporal Steel” (firmly a male name).

The name Charlie came from my friend Dave, when I complained that my bike was to small, shiny and fun to be called Corporal Steel. His reply was:

“Charlotte Coleman was small and shiny and cute. You could call it Charlie.”

I immediately loved the name. One small problem  “Charlotte who?” was my reply.

“Actress, played Hugh Grant’s kookie flatmate in “Four Weddings”…”

Perfect. This is how Charlie got her name. Even better, being an androgynous name, I can whine about Charlie being male if he ever plays up or is a pain in the bum. Can motorbikes catch man flu?

A Week of Firsts

This week I have taken huge leaps towards starting the Ultimate Ride.

Sunday I did my compulsory basic training (CBT). This one day training course must be completed successfully before anyone is allowed to ride any scooter or motorbike on UK roads. I found it both exciting and also a reality check. Riding a motorbike involves a lot of concentration and a lot of skill. Both hands and both feet have important functions to perform, and all in precise timing. Despite the complexities, and a slight nervousness of roundabouts, I passed all the competencies and was awarded my CBT certificate.

When I got home all I could think about was getting myself a bike. I bid on a Honda CG125 (the bike I learnt on in the CBT) on ebay, but was outbid in the auction. This turned out for the best, because I then made an offer on Charlie, my new bike.

I picked her up on Tuesday with the kind assistance of my friend Clive, who rode with me the 25 miles back to London – fantastic and terrifying in equal amounts. Unfortunately it was also that day that Charlie got her first injury – someone snapped the left wing mirror off while she was parked on the street.

Wednesday I bought Gortex trousers with motorcycle armour in the knees – they are a lot like snowpants! Good job I bought them, because Thursday morning I attempted my fisrt commute to work. 11.5 miles of wet roads, buses and white vans out to get me.

Statistics from my first commute:

  • 1hr 15min (approximately)
  • Wet roads
  • 3 big, terrifying roundabouts
  • 1 fall (braked too hard, resulted in yet another broken bit on Charlie, but not broken bits on me.)
  • 2 hours of sitting at my desk, trying to calm down with adrenalin coursing through my veins

The other preparation for the Ultimate Ride this week is best explained by the picture below of my living room wall. Bring it on!!

Went a bit crazy in the map shop...