Once an adrenaline junkie, always an adrenaline junkie!
The attentive reader of “To Drink the Wild Air” does know that I have sold my last street bike back in 1995 after I blew up the engine of my Kawasaki KLR 650 and shortly before I moved to Mexico City. There was no need for a bike in Mexico City and I had to concentrate on different things down there as it turned out. Mainly to make sure that my stuff didn’t get stolen left and right.
I never rode a bike ever since again until 2010 when I took a test ride on a Kawasaki KLR 650. Already then I jumped on that bike and rode it like I never took a break. That ride was only a short one on the streets in the city and of course the bike’s characteristics can be compared to a tractor rather than to a slick race bike. Nevertheless it was a bike and I rode it.
My fascination for bikes never had disappeared and there was never any doubt in my mind that I would forget how to ride a bike. Yesterday morning I sat on this Ducati 888, turned on the engine, threw in first gear and rode. The moment we hit US 1 it was like always. The same feeling, the same control, the instinct, the know-how and the knowledge of how a bike of this caliber will behave and how much power there is to control. We went fairly fast into the first batch of windy roads in the back country. A slight adjustment to the bike was necessary. When the roads got twisty and fast I rode fluid but not flawless. Mis-shifting , losing power coming out of the turns, breaking too late or too early going into the turns ( both can lead into scary situations), and the simple adjustment to the bike. The feeling of riding was the same like a long time ago on the race track. The necessary focus, the excitement and the fun. It was great !
On our way home we switched bikes and I rode the Aprilia RSV 100 to the end of our ride. What power house that engine is. The fusion of improved materials, perfect geometry, an incredible power band and acceleration showed me the improvements of 16 years I literally was missing in action in terms of street bike riding and my even longer absence off the race track.
Who says it cannot be done???? Not that I want to get back to the racing scene but I think it would be nice to take some laps on a racetrack again to realize that time is a relative thing. Some people might have lost their instinct for riding a bike over time but in my case it just went into hibernation and now it is back again!!!!! What I will do with it will be the question. It will be important to find a healthy balance and combination. To be able to fuse the more settled side of me with the wild side but still live a responsible and “normal” life.