Breathless

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  • When I was a kid, I got into a great deal of accidents. Many of them were bike related, usually caused by a reckless self-belief in my own abilities on two wheels. I used to watch race car drivers on TV and listen to their single-minded approach to racing, then apply that same theory to the road, the sidewalk, or wherever it was I was riding at speeds that made my heart race.

    My mother forbid me from ever owning a motorbike. She used that very word “ever.” She was convinced that I would ride a motorbike in much the same way that I rode a bicycle, and she probably wasn’t wrong. A tumble from a speeding bicycle can be bad, of course, but a fall from a speeding motorbike is always very bad, so perhaps I should thank her for making that rule.

    “If you come home with a motorbike, you’ll have to find somewhere else to live.” That’s what she said, or something like that anyway. A fair threat to a teenager hellbent on going everywhere as fast as possible, taking every corner on the ragged edge of adhesion so as to feel the thrill of riding so close to catastrophe.

    It was only as I rode around Thailand in 2012 when it occurred to me that the lifetime ban from owning a motorbike that my mother had passed down, was no longer enforceable! It seemed funny to me that it had never occurred to me until then, so with that in mind I gave the bike a bit more gas and chewed up a few miles a little quicker than I’d been doing before. (Sorry Mom!)

    These days, I think I wouldn’t be a menace to society if I owned a motorbike, but that’s not to say that I don’t still ride too fast or take risks that I’d regret if it all went wrong. However, I still haven’t yet defied my mother’s motorbike ban and bought myself a Harley Davidson or Ninja. (In all honesty I’m more of a Vespa person anyway.) Though I had some amazing motorbike/moped adventures in various places around the world including Vietnam, India, Laos, Taiwan, and the Philippines, so I suspect the day is coming when I will.

    The thing is, no matter how sensible I might be on a motorbike, I do still enjoy tearing around city streets on a bicycle, weaving in and out of traffic and scaring the occasional dopy pedestrians who isn’t paying attention. The enjoyment of those breathless moments when you’re pushing your luck as hard as your peddles, they’re still worth it once in a while if you ask me.

    (Today’s picture was taken on a Velib’ bike rental in Paris.)

    Stand where this picture was taken, using Google street view

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