Right then. After a thousand miles on the Enfield …time to carry a passenger.
From the start of this motorbike brainwave, my wife, Charlotte, has been remarkably supportive. She was pleased and interested to hear I was getting a motorbike and took no persuasion at all when it came to riding on the back. So I got the licence, then some experience of riding the Enfield, building skill and confidence. The next thing was to get Charlotte a helmet.
On Bank Holiday Monday, we went out in the Lotus and went for a walk along the dunes near Ogmore. Then it was off to Thunder Road in Bridgend. The parking area outside Thunder Road is like a bike show in itself. There are Harleys, Japanese superbikes, old British classics, all with their own distinctive sounds. If you park a car amongst that lot, it can’t be any old car. It has to be something that’s built for enjoyment rather than mere transport.
Inside, after walking past some gorgeous, gleaming machinery, we met a nice lady called Rhian who knew all about helmets. She looked at the shape and size of Charlotte’s head, noted that she wore glasses and came up with an all-black Arai that was, apparently, greatly reduced in price at ‘only’ £250. Despite this shock to her purse, Charlotte proceeded to look at biker jackets and trousers. She found a nice, figure-hugging jacket, some leather-and-fabric trousers and a nice pair of gloves. And it was a really beautiful, sunny day.
I could hardly wait to get back home and give it a whirl. Charlotte, though, is very practical and said we should wait until the Bank Holiday traffic jams had cleared. She was right, of course.
I pumped the tyres up an extra 2psi and checked the rear shock-absorber setting. As Charlotte straddled the bike, I told her the drill. Keep your feet on the footrests. Don’t get off until I tell you. Most of all, do lean with me and the bike; do not attempt to ‘correct’ the lean by remaining vertical.
I rode round the block first and then off to the north of Cardiff towards Radyr. Llandaff Fields were golden green in the late-afternoon sun. Pink cherry blossom was blowing like confetti across the deep blue sky. People walking dogs and pushing prams stopped and watched us go by.
At the Radyr roundabout, I turned round, pulled in at a lay-by and stopped the bike. I asked Charlotte if she wanted to go back now. I guessed this would be far enough for her first outing. But no. She was up for more. So on we went, up and down hills, around sweeping bends, the Enfield engine thrumbling and grumbling away.
Back home, safe and sound; Charlotte loved every minute of it. Now she’s planning a surprise visit to friends of hers who don’t yet know about the bike. Looks like this motorcycle lark could become a shared hobby.