When my birthday rolls around in November 2015, I’ll be forty. It will mean I’ll have been a card carrying motorcyclist for just over 20 years and a professional rider for just over 15. That’s a good time to gather your wits, look around and set some goals right? I figure that I have maybe another 20 years if my eyesight and hearing permit for rapid riding before I’ve to back off the pace and look for calmer, gentler machines to get my jollies on. I decided, therefore, that the new year and the attendant cliched call for resolutions was a good time to do this.
1. Own a proper fast machine
Yeah, I know my KTM is quick but I’m talking 100PS minimum with a modern chassis, sticky tyres and a level of performance where my skills are challenged into improving constantly. Something that’ll make my eyes twinkle and the corners of my mouth crinkle at least for the next few years. The longevity is critical because I’m not rich enough to be able to swap, upgrade or trade this motorcycle for at least that much time while my bank balances recover from this nuclear hit. This is obviously subject to me not winning a lottery, KBC or getting adopted by a stinking rich benevolent soul. If that happens, boy, all bets are off.
2. Do more track days
That’s logical right? If there was a track geographically closer I’d be there every other weekend but be that as it may, I resolved to quit whining and start making things happen a while ago. I’ve managed about five to seven track outings over the past couple of years (wish I’d started a whole heck of a lot sooner), but hey, if I can get closer to twelve, I’d be a lot happier, a lot scrappier with the laws of physics and as a consequence, a lot faster.
3. Get faster
I’m not a competitive person and I don’t want to race anyone else, but I do know that my fears and increasing awareness of my mortality is causing me to ride very conservatively. Which is great on the street but perhaps not on the track. And I would like to fix that. I know there’s no magic pill that eliminates the fear of injury or death but I would like to be braver and I think can willpower myself into showing more courage around a racetrack. Forty is the new twenty, right?
4. Ride in the dirt
I’ve hardly ever done it and it scares the living daylights out of me. Yeah, an Indian saying he hasn’t been off-road sounds wrong, but I don’t mean pothole bashing. I mean proper off-roading on a purpose built off-roader. Not hammering some poor KTM through dirt roads. I’d like to do that and I intend to badger CS Santosh (best of luck CS!) into bootcamping me into off-road shape at his highly recommended Big Rock facility in Kolar.
5. Ride in South America and Africa
These remain the two continents – Antarctica aside – where I’ve never been two-wheeler borne (except for a short stint on a Yamaha 250 in Brazil ages ago). I think I need to fix that. I don’t have specific countries in mind or specific roads in mind. I don’t even really care what motorcycle I ride around on, but I’d like to get these two continents under my belt.
6. Ride more
Because, simply, you can never ride enough, right?
7. Take a solo tour
Yeah, I’ve never done it. I’ve been to Ladakh twice on a bike, for example. The first time was the inaugural Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey and the second time, I was leading a handful of Mahindra Centuros. I’d like to throw my beloved Kriegas on my own bike and head out somewhere and then return covered in experiences and memories.
8. Go back to New Zealand
It really stands out to me as the most impressive riding country I’ve been to and as I said the last time around, I’m going back. It’s just a matter of when, how and for how long rather than anything else.
9. Become more mechanically adept
I’ve learnt to do a few things on my bike but I’ve never been a fan of getting my hands dirty. But the increasing number of DIY projects that consume my weekends seem to suggest that it is only a matter of time before my toolbox full of shiny wrenches is about to see more and more use. Maybe once my eyesight and hearing reduce my ability to be on the top of a bike, it is being under one that will keep the flame burning, eh?
10. Learn how to pull a wheelie without scaring myself
I think they look awesome and I’ve never really gotten around to figuring out how to pull a good one properly without scaring myself. My fleeting time on Youtube seems to suggest, more or less, that any monkey in a sleeveless tee and a pair of flappy shorts can figure this out so it stands to reason that wheelies are easy to learn and pull and this won’t hurt a bit. Sounds just like my cup of tea. In which case, I guess this is where I should start. What do you say?