Tapping out

Not gonna lie, I 100% wanted Danny to ride my new bike home from the shop. Don’t get me wrong, I was uber excited about getting my bike, I just had it in my head that this would be the best plan. After all, I’d not ridden a bike since my CBT in July 2014 and it was now April 2015.  As you can imagine, I had a mega dose of the heebies. We chatted about it loads and he said over and over that it would be best if I just bite the bullet and ride it back myself. He was totally right, tut.

Two weeks zoomed by and before I knew it, it was bank holiday and I was on the back of the Street Triple on the way to Hunts. If you’ve read my first CBT post you’ll know how nervous I get about things. It’s safe to say that nerves on this day were CBT x 1,000,000.

What if I bin it in the car park? What if I stall every time I stop? What if I just cry like a big girl?

All of these thoughts were whirring around my head. I had excitement in my belly and fear in my brain. Oh God.

When we got to the shop my little white mini beast was sitting there outside the shop ready to come home with us. Everything was so shiny and pretty badass and mean, it looked ace and I was already so pleased with it!

After admiring the bike for a bit, reality set back in and I wobbled into the shop and sat at the desk. I actually hoped the paperwork would take so long everyone else in the shop would push off home and not watch me ride away. Unlucky for me, everything was done and dusted in a few minutes and it was handover time. My wobbly legs carried me back out of the shop and we went through the basics of how to start, stop, switch on the lights etc. I hope I looked like I was listening because what I was really thinking about was the mega junction right outside the shop. Literally, a potential death risk in the first 6 seconds of leaving the shop. Oh God.

After not really listening for what seemed like forever the guy handed me the keys and the bike was officially mine. It was such a mix of emotions! Danny immediately set to making sure I was alright and felt ready to get cracking. I think he probably had more heebies than I did at this point. It was SO REAL and for the first time he could see how nervous I really was. He suggested I ride up and down the side street first which I did, in a fashion. I don’t think I made it past seven miles an hour. Plus it was a dead end and after u-turngate, I would stop at the end of the road and push myself with my feet (think a toddler on a balance bike) until I was pointing in the other direction. Oh the lols. This went on for a while but eventually, it was time for home.

Jesus wept i’ve never, ever, papped myself as much as I did in that moment.

We readied ourselves for the off but I couldn’t set off. I’m out, I thought. Danny knew it was now or never and tried everything he could to get me to go. I was completely on the verge of tapping out. I just kept saying “ok, i’m going” into my helmet and not actually going anywhere.  “Where do I need to get to again?”, I squeeked into my communicator* “Just those traffic lights there honey and then stop”. Poor Danny. Looking back, I’m almost 100% sure the guys in the shop had a tenner bet on what time i’d give the keys back.

Then, somehow and to the utter relief of Danny and probably the guys in the shop, I just shot off. I don’t think either of us knew how it was happening but it was. I’m almost 100% sure I rode through that junction with my eyes closed. But that doesn’t matter because I was doing it!

The whole ride home was no easy feat seeing as we live in the city centre but it’s safe to say by some miracle and with only a few hiccups to note, we made it! When we did arrive back we pulled into a side street and I was so happy and relieved and so full of adrenaline I clambered off and lay on the pavement for a little minute. Happily laying there, glad to be alive.

I’m usually a proper little giver-upper but that day I went from zero wheels to two and I smashed it.

*We use the Sena SMH5 communicators and they’re mega. Blog post to follow…

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Wait, what’s that now?

I’d never heard of a Honda Mini Street X-treme before or MSX for short, but as soon as I saw the little thing I was smitten. It looked like a big bike but with tiny proportions. At last, something for me!

Based on the original 70’s monkey bike, the MSX seemed to be taking the bike world by storm not only with new riders like me, but with seasoned bikers too. A little 125cc offering great performance, good looks and fun times, what was not to like?

The MSX or Grom as it’s known in the US, was getting more and more rave reviews so we went back to Hunts to take a look at one in the flesh (it was Hunts we visited when viewing the Van Van).

There’s no point in beating around the bush, as soon as I saw the little thing I wanted it. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. The styling, the weight, just the sheer cheekiness of it…it was just perfect. Dan could see how delighted my cockles were, so in one swift move he whipped out his wallet and paid a deposit there and then. I danced in my seat as we crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is with Damien, the sales guy (who also owned an MSX as it turned out). It didn’t take long before everything was in order and my bike was officially on order. My bike. On order. MINE. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Decisions – KTM Duke 125cc

I had one thing in mind after passing my CBT and that was to buy a bike. I wanted to learn at my own pace, on my own bike and thought everything would be dandy. Danny (the other half) thought it would be better to go back to Moto-technique and have some lessons but I was a bit reluctant (after u-turngate) and thought I knew better.

A few weeks passed and then a couple of months and I still hadn’t sorted anything out. Time was ticking and confidence was waining. Trouble was, I couldn’t find a bike I liked and I wanted to LOVE it or else I wouldn’t ride it. We were going round and round in circles trying to find a bike that fit with my ideals…not too big, not too sporty, not too old, not too expensive….needless to say it was a bit impossible.

Then the KTM Duke 125 caught my eye. At first I thought it was a ‘bit orange’ but after a while I really started to love it. Especially when I saw it wrapped in the ‘funky’ graphics kit (featured in the image above). We did loads of research on it and even a guy at work had a nephew who had one and he said he loved it. I was sold – it was The One.

One weekend we had a drive out to the Rocket Centre in Lancashire to go look at one in the flesh. It’s worth saying that the Rocket Centre’s great! They carry loads of stock including bikes, clothing and parts and the staff are really helpful too. Anyway, they got a Duke 125 out for me and I got on…just. It was too big. Gah. I’m only 5’2″ and I was on my very very tippy toes. I just didn’t feel balanced at all. I was properly disappointed. Had I had more confidence, it probably would’ve been ok but it was too soon.

Over the next few days and weeks we talked about buying one and getting it lowered a few mills. That might have been okay but the nail in the coffin was when I did the maths with purchase price and insurance*. Over £1000 to get insured on a £4000 bike. It was too risky. What if I hated it? What if I couldn’t ride it? It was back to the drawing board.

*This was back in 2014, right now you can buy a 2014 KTM Duke 125 from the Rocket Centre for £3999 at 0% APR and 1 years free insurance. Lucky you!