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I am waiting on Bertie Simmonds, Editor of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics, to finish off the News pages for me to check, then we can put the magazine to bed for another month. So, it is time to grab some fresh air rather than linger in front of the screen.

Pumped with Diazepam to keep the anxiety in check, I wheel the Breakout out of the garage for the first time, flip down the side-stand, stand back and admire the Harley. The sun pops out from behind the cloud to get a better look, then pops back in again, curiosity satisfied.

Breakout

Flicking the switch, the Vance & Hines exhaust bursts into life, scattering the pigeons that had flown in and hunkered down for an early roost in the nearby spinney. Fuckers. It is they and the bastard crows that always consume the bird food that I put out daily for the blue tits and other small birds.

I straddle the bike, tip it upright, flick up the side-stand, and drop her into first. Clunk. Time for the shit-show to begin. Yes, I am nervous. I have ridden these beasts before, and they are fine in a straight line, but even trundling down my road to leave the village involves some left and right sweepers. Nothing drastic, nothing tight, just, well, simple curves flowing like a gently meandering river. It’s all in the mind, I tell myself.

Breakout

Reaching the T-junction, I want to turn right, but as I’ve told you before, I hate right-handers, especially at a Stop sign on a big, heavy bike. I could go left and keep going left in a big circle, but that is the coward’s way of doing things, and I am a biker, with a beard and long-ish hair and a leather vest and jeans and view myself as badass on an even badder-ass bike. What to do? Topple over on the first right-hander and I will leave the bike in the road and drag myself home, angry, embarrassed, and ashamed of my incompetence. Sod it, I go for the bold move and turn right.

It’s okay. Like some freak-shit weirdo careering down the road, eyes bulging, I am transfixed on the centre line, praying that no lunatic driver comes barrelling towards me with one hand on the steering wheel and the other occupied, sending text messages.

I had one of those behind me yesterday. Some sheep-shagger in a pick-up hell-bent on crumpling my rear bumper because I wouldn’t move out of the way so he could pile into oncoming traffic. Part of me wanted to stop and rip his throat out, the other half told me he wasn’t worth lingering in a jail cell for even though he was a first-class dickhead.

I’m in third. Now fourth. It’s going well. And heck, this seat is very comfortable indeed. Left and then 90-degree right-hander coming up. Steady as she flows. No problem. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy. The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day.

Breakout

Rule No.1: Make sure you know how to remove the fuel cap having pulled next to a pump. Can I get it off? Can I hellers like. Oh well, carry on. Sorry about that to the man who is looking out the pay window. Bloody Harley riders.

I stop and take some images of the bike. I hear a sports bike approaching. Hell for leather. Knee down, sweeping left-hander. Christ he’s shifting. I carry on with my snaps before heading onwards.

Rule No.2: Don’t panic when right heel strikes bitumen on slow right-hander (right-hander again!). And I have been doing so well. This bike must have a lean angle of about five degrees. (It’s actually a modest 26.8 degrees, but it felt a lot less than that, and it still sucks). Bit of a heart-thumper because I am not expecting it. What I am expecting and, okay, hoping for, is a stable, joyous ride in a straight line. But this is Lincolnshire and under me is a muscly bike with an enormous flat profile 240mm rear, wide bars, and elongated design. Little wonder, then, that Harley term it as their ‘drag-strip inspired model’ and, of course, drag strips are those crazy straight-line sprints, eh.

Breakout

I tell myself to take these factors into account, concentrate on the fact that it hates corners and takes some effort to shove it round bends, and as to manoeuvring at slow speeds, that’ll be a no-no from me. Not even tried that one. But the torque is phenomenal, and the pops and bangs from the exhaust on deceleration are grin-inducing.

Once I have muscled my way home, I am not sure whether it is the bike or me that is grunting. The long stretch to the wide bars causes my shoulders and neck to ache, and I check my right boot to make sure the heel is still in situ. I’m sure the lean angle will be more conducive if I manage to lift my feet up a bit rather than position them at such an acute angle, but it is a stretch to the pegs.

So has it all been a bit of an effort? Well, yes, but only because this has been my first ride-out. I have learnt a few things. And with no dummy fuel cap on the left-hand side of the tank, I was turning the right-hand cap anti-clockwise correctly, but it remains stuck. Who’s the dummy now…

Gonzo

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