There’s no such thing as a light motorbike…

I have a motorbike. I got my licence after I had baby boy but can count the number of times I have actually ridden one on my hands, so to say I am a little rusty is an understatement.

From next week, when I start my new job, I will be riding a 40 mile round trip on a daily basis, so I have to get good and quick.

The problem is I gulp at the mere suggestion of getting on the bike but I have this feeling (which happens regardless of the challenge) that whenever I am faced with something that makes me gulp I have to do it and conquer it.

So, the easy option would have been to let my husband ride the bike back home after we bought it as it was a longish trip. But I knew I had to get to grips with biking fast so I dusted off my helmet and climbed on board.

I am solo glad I did because once I got through all the coastal traffic and got some open road the feeling was heaven. At speed the bike becomes as light as a feather and willing to do whatever you ask of it. However, when stationary it is this massive lump of metal that won’t budge when I am pushing it backwards to park with my legs. As for putting it in the centre stand…..well that is the most infuriating thing as I watch my husband ‘just’ shove his foot on the stand and lift the bike back ‘just put all your weight on the stand’. I did and nothing happened, except a few popped muscles down my rib cage and up my arms trying to wrestle it backwards. “It’s no good if you need to fill up with fuel” my husband says, “you need to put it in the centre stand” grrrrrrrr.

Think I will sit astride it to fill up instead….

This blog is for UNICEF. Thanks for reading. 

A bike in a midlife (plus a good excuse)

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike….(so the song goes)

I am not talking about a pushbike, I am talking about one that goes brum, brum.

Unfortunately there is no parking near my new job and it would take me a while to get through the traffic in a car anyway before I even get to using the park and ride bus system. As there is a perfectly good motorcycle parking bay by the offices, it looks like I will be forced to ride a motorbike to work (plus I don’t need to do the school run anymore – although sidecars are an option).

So as we approach the milder months I will hopefully be dusting down my oversized motorbike jacket (which is so masculine I look like a dyke on a bike) and jumping on something that can make me nip round the traffic into time at all and park without the need to buy a ticket (just don’t tell my Mum).

I am quite excited and nervous about returning to bike riding but it’s all good in the midlife crisis hood….

This blog is for UNICEF.

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The Self Preservation Society

The RNLI save 22 people a day on Britain’s coastlines. Today they saved three children who were caught out by the sea current in Wales.

This is a very impressive contribution to the preservation of human life. When you think about it many other organisations and public services play in an invaluable role. Aside from health professionals, the police, for example, do their bit.

Drive along a bendy road near a town in Hampshire and you will see police signs of bikes leaning in on corners saying ‘to die for?’ if the sign makes one biker question his speed on entry to a corner then its doing its job.

The same could be said for the recent youtube footage of a biker meeting his death in Norfolk – Having looked at this footage, he didnt appear to me to roll off the throttle when it was clear there was a car intending to cross over his side of the road. There has been a lot of criticism of the speed he was travelling at near a junction, but I wonder at what speed would the collision have reduced from fatal to serious? In this case I feel driver education is more valuable than rider in this particular example.

Thats why the slogan ‘Think bike, Think biker’ is such a powerful one.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Oh the joy of being ‘Mum’

I am going to try not to sound bitter in this next paragraph….

My cycle test to be a bikeability instructor for primary and secondary schools went well and they want me to do the full course. Downside being that, as a Mum of a 2 year old, childcare costs will mean my earnings are minimal. However this will improve as he gets closer to school age. Hubby doesnt understand this. Thinks I should stay at home until I am in a position to earn ‘decent money’. But when will that be…. when they turn 18? The fact is that jobs that fit around school time dont tend to be big earners. But when I have proposed to hubby that I take on the full-time breadwinner role and that he stays at home, he back-pedals faster than Chris Hoy in reverse. Why is it women who have to organise and deduct childcare from their salary thus limiting what they can actually do as a job?

So I guess my issue is not with parenthood but society’s historic approach to womanhood.

On a separate note, Oxfam emailed me about the appalling situation in South Sudan, which seems to be un-reported in the media. The country is nearing a famine and thousands of families are in refugee camps living in appalling conditions…… all because of war. If you can help please visit this site.

This blog is for Unicef. As i missed last night’s blog, £1 in the pot to Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

PS I did feel a bit of an idiot in my over-sized hi-vis gear and my panic buy helmet from Halfords, particularly when positioned next to  lycra clad and cycle shoe heeled streamlined instructor.

PPS, if you are in need of a laugh,check out the Sam Mendes film ‘Away We Go’.






Beware of cyclists

I have just taken delivery of a mechanism that will hopefully prevent me and baby boy getting squished the next time we are cycling on the road.

I am pinning my hopes on a bit of plastic with a lollipop reflective end in an effort to make motorists go around me when overtaking. Every time I cycle on the road with baby boy sat in the rear seat, at least one motorist drives past us so close that only a hair would separate us.

I have a ‘please pass wide and slow’ vest on the back of my bike but this doesnt make a blind bit of difference (excuse the pun). I have also experienced oncoming cars overtaking into my side of the road because they cant wait another five seconds, forcing me to stop pedalling so they can make it through the gap.

This is just the country roads. Given the general lack of respect that motorists give cyclists on Britain’s roads, I would class all cyclists on main roads as potential organ donors. There is very little room for error between a bike and a car, when a mistake happens it is often fatal – so why do so many motorists show so little care?

Aside from the tragedy for the cyclist’s family, what would life be like if you had killed someone because you couldn’t wait five seconds or you couldnt be bothered to move your steering wheel a fraction more?

If that still doesnt make you think, then how about the paramedic who has to piece together a body that has been annihilated after a bike accident involving a lorry? I witnessed the aftermath of such an accident – the paramedics resuscitating a bloodied torso and a lorry driver throwing up on the side of the street. Several lives changed forever in less than 5 minutes.

I am blogging for Unicef.

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Yes woman

Unlike Jim Carrey’s character in the film ‘yes man’, I have the opposite problem – I find it hard to say no.

I am a change junkie, I love change. If my husband said tomorrow that the whole family were leaving for Australia, within minutes I would be researching flights without a backward glance. I was once told I have a higher than average sense of mortality (which is a bizarre observation when you think about it), I am not one of those people who say ‘it wouldn’t happen to me’, more like ‘what if it happened to me?’ So I believe in living for the here and now (you might have guessed by now that I am not a huge fan of saving, but surprised to hear that I have been paying into a pension since my early twenties……i am also an optimist).

The trouble with being a yes woman is that pretty quickly your life can fill up. Just in responding to adverts publicised in my locality since giving up my job because of childcare costs, I have said yes to: a job working from home for the council, an interview to be a cycling instructor and become a member of a netball team). This is aside from two children, helping my husband with his business and helping look after horses 3 times per week. Oh…..and I did sign up to bootcamp on the village green every Wednesday from September.

Thinking about it, the only time I say ‘no’ is normally in response to my husband asking me if I can do something……because I am too busy doing everything else. I am also (on the whole) successfully saying ‘no’ to sugar (although ate an eton mess for pudding earlier…..whoops).

This blog is for Unicef.

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Ethical racing

Picture this. Imagine you are a racer and you are in the race that you have been building up to for years. It is one of the most challenging race-tracks in the world and of the fastest and dangerous races in the world. Regardless of this, you are in the lead half-way through and recording brilliant lap-times. Then your worst nightmare happens. As you go along the track, you see marshalls waving flags at you, so you ease off the throttle and see the reason for the flags, your brother’s smashed-up machine is lying at the side of the road and you have no idea whether your fellow racer and brother is dead or alive. You cant stop so you speed up to get to the pit-stop to get news of your brother. Suddenly race position, fuel, tyres, none of it matters if the worst has happened to your brother.

Once in the pit lane, you flip the visor up and shout the all-important question over the noise of engines and the re-fuelling. You hear them shout “He’s OK!”. The relief floods in but as you speed off down the lane you wonder what ‘OK’ means. What if they didn’t really  know and were just saying that so you stayed focus on the race? Your lap times drop as you mull it over but you soon realise there is nothing to be gained by hanging about. As Colin Mcrae said, ‘If in doubt, flat out’. You’ve done it, the race is won but the glory is not there, just the feeling that you almost lost your brother.

This was what happened yesterday to Michael Dunlop and his brother William at the Senior race of the Isle of Man TT. What I dont like to think about is what the crew would have said to Michael in the pit stop if William had died?

The skill of these riders is astonishing – makes F1 look like a Sunday leisurely drive in comparison.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Desperately seeking bikers (with boobs)

My husband has got a new helmet and pair of bike trousers. He didn’t have to change the size of his trousers, but his helmet did need to go up a size. I didn’t know that your head continues to expand into your thirties, but clearly this is the case  with my husband.

As part of his order, he was given car window stickers that read ‘Born to ride, forced to drive’. I first rode a motorbike when i was 14 and took to it like a duck to water, i wonder what could have happened if i had got into biking earlier. It certainly would have saved me a lot in fuel costs on the daily commute. I would have built up so much experience that would have helped me to ride the bigger bikes, i find them now rather intimidating because i worry if they get dropped thats it, im stuck.

Months have passed and i am stuck driving my estate, commuting on a bike now is impossible with the tiddlywinks in tow. I could go out for a ‘ride’ at the weekend but it feels wrong to be on my own when i could be with the family. Although i would enjoy it i would also feel a bit lonely riding out on my own.

I would love to have a girl friend who also rode a bike but it seems most of the female riders are lesbians, so have absolutely nothing in common with me.

Is there a biking Mum out there who is also in the same quandary. Female petrolheads keep their passion secret, particularly amongst other women. I used to stay up the small hours to watch an F1 GP live and last night was up past my bedtime watching highlights from the Isle of Man TT.

So it would be great to hear from any female bikers out there to exchange experiences and enjoy pep talks.

I am blogging every day for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.


When only chocolate will do…

Approaching Mother’s Day, I am so anxious to ensure my mother receives something for the day, even though she is in Spain that I don’t give my new found role as a mother a second thought. I don’t want to put my kids under pressure to do something amazing for me on Mothers Day, after all it was me (and my husband) who decided to have them in the first place. It is a tough world and not always the most inviting environment to inspire confidence in future happiness for our kids. When things start to get tough for them, we will begin retirement and spoil the grand-kids. So I think the person who should be really under pressure to deliver on Mothers Day is my husband, because technically he made me a Mother in the first place.

But, back to my Mother, one year I forgot Mother’s Day. Well, I didn’t forget, because I gave her present to her in advance before she returned to Spain but she was obviously looking for something else too. I got a call at 11.30 at night from Spain when she said ‘what happened to my special call on mother’s day?’ At home it had been just like any other Sunday, so I had forgotten and my mother took offence. When I tried to argue my case she said, ‘Mother’s Day is more important than birthdays.’ (groan) I wasn’t going to attempt to battle with that viewpoint.

So Mothers day, like Christmas, has just become a day that creates lots of to do lists and pressure. On behalf of my husband I chose some flowers and card for my mother-in-law and for my Mum I already bought a gift and gave it to her a while ago and for the day I will send her a gooey interactive card.

I’m going to say something really naff now and say every day is good to be a mother, particularly when my daughter makes me a cup of tea and my baby boy does something in the potty.

As for my husband, I am trying not to be jealous of the new motorbike he has got, although he says I can ride it. I am going through a phase where my husband is immensely irritating and I find life more complicated when he is around. I am assuming this has something to do with the fact that it is our 10th year of marriage and partly to do with my slightly hostile hormones. Either way he is driving me nuts and no amount of tea, wine or home-baked scones is going to get me out of this mood.

He got me flowers but I really wanted chocolate….

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Riding in Harmony

This week the mega, insane, awesome, mind-boggling, motorbike hill-climb race of the season has been buzzing round the Isle of Man. The biggest news is the success of King of the Mountain John McGuinness after a week of knocks he claimed his 20th victory in the race everyone wants to win – the seniors on his Honda Legends bike. It was stuff of fairy-tales.

I enjoy watching horses and riders perform in harmony, it is a pleasure to watch. Seeing John and other riders in the TT effortlessly weave their charges from one bend to another, rolling off the throttle if required and leaning in to the bike when it starts to rear is more than just enjoying the thrill of insane speeds. It is also the enjoyment of watching such skill at work.The lightest of touches undertaken in milliseconds makes all the difference between success on the road and complete disaster.

Riders of horses in eventing, show-jumping or dressage have a similar set of skills, which you can observe in display at top level competitions. The lightest of ‘half-halts’ on the reins of a horse in order to hit the right stride to a ridiculously high fence. The smallest of leg aids, to tell a horse of a change of movement in a dressage test, the subtle shift of weight in the saddle across country to communicate a greater collection in anticipation of a bounce fence across country. Both rider and horse and rider and bike combinations are a partnership. In equestrianism it is understanding the psychology of the horse and how to work together to get the best results and in bikes it is understanding the engineering and how to get the most out of it. That is why I enjoy both past-times so much.

One day I look forward to visiting the TT.

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