The long road
When I say that I was ready to give up, perhaps it would be more accurate to say I wanted to be ready to give up. I wanted to be able to. I wanted to be able to say to myself: "You know what? Forget this. Do something else; clearly this is not making you happy and you are not suited to it. Move on."
But even as I lay in bed through most of the next day I found myself still reading Hell for Leather articles online, watching just about any motorcycle video or short film I could find and posting my favourites to Tumblr (along with all the other webby stuff that amuses me), and playing that stupid daydream game of trying to determine exactly which bike I want to get.
It's those videos, especially, that really get me. That Ride Apart episode in which Jamie goes to Sequoia National Forest on a Bonneville has become a kind of life ambition –– a vision of how I want to live my life. So much so that almost any motorcycling daydream now involves my strapping Kriega gear to the back of the thing.
"I'll get a [name of bike goes here], a few Kriega bags and head up to the Cairngorms," I'll tell myself.
Thereafter I'll fall into a kind of melancholy at the thought of all the obstacles between myself and that ideal. First and foremost, of course, is the motorcycle license.
One of the myriad challenges I have to overcome in getting the license is that I have so little experience on a motorcycle. Apart from the handful of hours I rode when I was 18 years old, the whole of my riding experience amounts to just six days, spread out over the space of 2.5 months.
Account for the fact that these riding days are always finished by 4 p.m., and generally include lunch, multiple tea breaks and no less than an hour of waiting around for various things to occur, and it's likely my total lifetime on-bike hours hover somewhere around 24-30.
Hindsight being all that it is, and knowing now how much money I've lost in unsuccessful exam attempts, it might have been a wiser move for me to just buy a 125cc bike and ride around with L plates for a year or so. But the past is just that: the past. And one cannot know it until it has occurred. So I am left to only move forward and hope that all this money (money that by now could have paid for a plane ticket home) will turn out to have been better spent than it presently feels.
Jenn suggested that I just take the hit financially and spend an extra day training. A day of riding around without the pressure of a test. And that's what I did last Thursday.
It went well. The wind was ridiculous (I'm guessing this video was recorded on the same day), but I handled it and felt cheekily proud to already have experience in some of the worst of British weather. When I failed my Mod 2 the first time it was so cold we encountered snow; when I failed it the second time we encountered a torrential downpour on the ride home; now I've also suffered high winds.
I think my instructor, Andy, feels a kind of sympathy for me. At one point in the day, for no reason in particular, we stopped at Thunder Road and he went straight for a Honda NC700X, a bike I've expressed interest in several times before. I think now that he was subtly trying to remind me of the point, trying to place a goal before me to help me see beyond the immediate hurdle of the exam. And I suppose it worked. I am eager to try again.
Well, I'm not sure 'eager' is the right word. Willing. Obliged. I don't feel I can give up, as much as I may wish I could.