I spoke too soon when I said that snowboarding was something completely different - It seems that whatever I'm trying to do turns on, the problems remain the same..."why are you looking at the ground?" asked Cedric, the infinitely patient instructor from Magic in Motion. "Look where you want to go." WYLIWYG indeed! Fortunately information, position, speed gear and acceleration are not part of the process. An ability to take punishment, however, seems essential - smug skiers have told me that if I start counting backwards from 10,000 every time I fall over, by the time I get to zero I will have learnt boarding. Fortunately I excel at falling over. On Tuesday I fell over and smacked the back of my head with such force that I woke up on Wednesday with a neck that hadn't ached so much since my early days as a greaser. Today I compensated by falling on my face with such gusto that I broke my goggles and implanted my mobile phone firmly into my ribs. That I achieved this feat not even on the snow but on the travalator in the beginners garden demonstrates, I feel, a particularly high dedication to learning through gravity.
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Monday, 25 February 2008
I am taking a break from grappling with the finer points of advanced motorcycling to try something completely different - snowboarding. Ski-ing reminds me too much of the uptight girls at school and the intimidating posh students that I spent four years trying to dodge, plus boarders get baggier trousers and stompier boots, so it was a no-brainer. Friday night saw me at St Pancras to catch the Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, to pick up the overnight Snow Train to Meribel. (Friday afternoon saw me in an advancing state of panic in my flat trying to find my passport, which I had put in a safe place....) The Snow Train is a long row of couchettes broken only by the on-board facilities - a buffet or restaurant would be far too sensible, what a train-load of alpine sports enthusiasts really needs (apparently) is a beer bar and a disco carriage. Shame it was playing French euro-techno, a few rounds of Boney M would have been much more fun.
Home for the week is the Chalet du Guide, where lots of glamourous men have come and tended to my needs, from boots to boards, ski passes and lessons. I recommend this to anyone in need of pampering. We have lovely blue skies but apparantly this is a Bad Thing, what we actually want is more snow.
After a first attempt yesterday under the watchful care of Jim and Andy, I ache in unusual places but haven't broken anything yet..
Thursday, 21 February 2008
We all know that riding is dangerous but so far I've been lucky enough not to lose any friends to the road. So it wasn't good to get a text this morning that began "Fell off last night...busted left hand, collar bone and 2 ribs." However, since they haven't yet invented posthumous texting, the damage wasn't fatal. Best wishes for a quick recovery.
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Yes - it's awards time again. Unlike the Brits, this blog isn't being hosted by the Prince of Darkness, but that doesn't mean you get away with not voting.
Motorcycle Bloggers International runs the annual Riders Choice awards - nominated by bikers, voted for by bikers.
Head over to http://www.mbiweb.org/2008/vote.html for the chance to vote.
Monday, 18 February 2008
Actually, not two words at all. When the paint on the road says "M6 Toll", that's exactly what it means - not, M6 and/or toll road. Which, as a revelation, came slightly too late and caused me to make a last minute detour across the tiger tails back onto the free side of the M6. Look out for us on Police, Camera Action soon....
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Beautiful sunny day, not really in the mood to ride but it made a nice change not to be rained on as I trekked across London in search of the A23 south - Metal Mule are very scenically located just short of Brighton. I was tempted to whip down to the coast after the mules were expertly fitted for me by Paul Goulding - glad I didn't try it myself, it's a complex job involving taking off the BMW rack, but re-using some of the bolts, using different spacers to get a good fit and then tightening everything up good and proper - but it was just a bit too chilly for seaside adventures.
Here's the result - this is my second attempt at getting a picture, the first attempt ended with Ruby testing out her Touratech crash bars :(
Saturday, 9 February 2008
Ruby is two months old which, judging from today's blue sky, means she no longer counts as a new bike worthy of being rained on. It's been so long since I've had the chance of riding in bright winter sun that I'd forgotten what a treat it is. The beauty of black riding gear is that it warms up where the sun touches you, giving a real 3-D sense of moving through the universe.
Today's lesson was a walking meditation on positioning for view. I can't do it at speed so we slowed right down and took the A507 in second gear. I can't do it in second gear either. “Are you asking yourself 'where is the vanishing point?'” Er, no. I'm saying “Oh my God you want me to ride how close to the verge?”
So the task is to ride along asking “Where is the next vanishing point?” Sometimes I can spot it and sometimes, like the trick with the ping-pong balls and the upturned cups, I haven't got a scooby.
Asked “How often this morning have you said “IPSGA” to yourself?,” the correct answer was not, apparently, once, when I was doing my teeth to check I knew what it meant when you asked me.
Sunday, 3 February 2008
I am a North London girl. I can see Alexandra Palace from my bedroom window. Excel thus had a uphill struggle to persuade me that it is a superior venue for the London Motorcycle Show. To be fair, I've found one reason – it's far enough away to justify riding to the show (it would have taken me longer to put my gear on than to walk to Ally Pally). But I'm afraid that's it. At Ally Pally, the bikes park herringbone-style each side of the boulevard all round the palace, and the cars are relegated to the lower slopes of the park. You enter the show through the Palm Court, which usually has a display of historic or exotic metal. The stunt show takes place in the ice hockey arena, which has a fully-functioning PA system and fixed seating.
At ExCel the bikes were crammed into one small corner of the car park, the approach was through a crowded food court shared between four or five shows – I know wearing lycra and handing out Carole Nash calendars can't always be the best of gigs but it's got to beat wearing a lime-green full-body foam rubber pound sign – and the stunt show? Well..
...I know Londoners are cynical. And we have just been treated to the full-on colonial spectacle of the Crusty Demons. And the comedy purple-helmet style act which opened the show wasn't going to appeal to everyone. But surely a small ripple of excitement would have been appropriate for Brazilian stunt god AC Farias? He came out after his set and videoed the sullen crowd, presumably to take back to Brazil as a warning.
And some appreciation was due for the two young guys pulling FMX stunts so close to the backdrop it looked like they'd been nailed on to it – especially as one of them was riding with a bent bike and strapped wrist after going down on some oil spilt by the comedy moped gang. I'm sorry, I can't tell you their names, because the MC mumbled and the PA system must have been borrowed from Jacques Cousteau, it was so bass-heavy only whales would have been able to make out individual words.
Perhaps the crowd had been stunned into silence by the outrageous food prices. I came over with a bad attack of Till Tourettes after handing over a twenty for a sandwich and a diet coke, and getting in return a tenner and some shrapnel.
Or maybe they were getting over having their hopes dashed by the MCN T-Shirt competition. My travelling companion can't have been the only person taken aback to find that it was a quiz to win a t-shirt, and not a competition to see which of the MCN babes best filled one out. A slightly disappointed crowd of lads and dads waited for the competition proper.
Have you got anything for the crowd? last year's winner asked the wannabe babes, all lined up in black vests and knickers (some knickers more substantial than others.) Thirty years of feminism brings us to a perky blonde from the north west bouncing on a spacehopper....all good clean fun, though the Thai exotic dancer's special moves did cause a few dads to reach over and cover their sons' eyes.(thankfully, no ping-pong balls involved) ..and a note to the pole dancer, bending over and shaking your ass doesn't really count as a talent. Not that the audience minded....
I got my Fog City shield and some good photos, but I missed the many halls of end-of line bargains and last season's colours on sale at knock-down prices. For me, Birmingham is flash new bikes and glamour, and London is outrageous stunts, babes-next-door, and cheap kit. Ally Pally did it better.