Pictures by Ingrid Ash
Arriving at the Excel Motorcycle show by car did not feel right. My excuse was that the weather was atrocious with very strong winds and therefor coming by car did seem the better option.
Oh, and I haven’t got a bike, so it wasn’t a realistic option anyway. The car park was heaving with cars, but not a bike in sight; a bit worrying. I was wondering if I had come to the right place.
Walking up to the ticket control, I handed over my ticket. I was as excited as a child let loose in a sweet shop. It was most disappointing to have my ticket returned and refused entry. I have travelled two and a half hours and I cannot go in? What sort of cruel trick is this? The man pointed at the sign which read clearly in bold letters that this was the entrance to the diving and watersport show. Ah…I had not spotted that. That felt a bit silly, say the least. I make a mental note to get my eyes checked next week.
Finally, I get past the correct ticket control and I feel I am back in a very familiar world. Bikes everywhere and lots of people who have the same passion. Heaven.
I head off to CCM. On their stand there are two,new, very clean looking 450’s. I think they need to be worked off road a bit, to show them what they should be used for. Maybe the public doesn’t want to get dirty on bikes? The first 450 I try out feel lovely and high up. I think it is a similar height as the Yamaha TT R250 I rode recently. I am told that I will be riding the lowered version as I swap bikes. This one has been seriously lowered as I can put both feet securely on the ground. It almost feels a little to low. When I get of the bike and compare the clearance under the bike, I can't see there is any, or much difference between the bikes. So the height difference is taken off the seat and under it. This is fantastic as shorties, like myself, can ride the bike feeling they can but there feet down and reach the ground and have the advantage of the same ground clearance as lofties, like Kevin. That is surely the best of both worlds. Can’t wait to try it out.
My next stop is with Mark and Lizzy of the Spyder, Club, having a chat with them.
During the day I meet up with staff of Honda, KTM, Triumph and Ducati. I get reintroduced to Badger from California Superbike School and get my first lesson on how to sit properly on a bike. You have to start somewhere!
At lunchtime I observe the crowds, whilst eating the most expensive hotdog I have ever eaten. I notice the same thing as I observed at the last show at the NEC. It is plain to see that there is a serious lack of young people at the show. I am wondering what is going to look like in say about 10 years time. Maybe manufacturers need to start thinking of designing bikes for the elderly.
Where are the youngsters? What is putting youngster of riding bikes, I wonder. Can’t be the constant rain, or their mother’s disapproving attitude? Or are boys not boys anymore?
Is it that the government is killing of motorcycling on the roads? I do know that taking your test nowadays is not the same as when I took mine, 20 odd years ago. Getting a licence is costly, and there are a huge amount of hoops to jump through, before the government, will allow you near the roads. Then you need to get insurance, which is crippling too, and a bike and riding kit. I think it is such a shame to think that youngsters have so many obstacles put in their way to experience something that I took for granted.
In the afternoon I meet up with Phil West from MCN at the MCN stand. I am very proud to say Kevin had been awarded a Dave Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award, and I was here to collect it on Kevin’s behalf. Phil hands it to me and I get offered a plastic bag with it, to keep safe when taking home. There were no trumpets, speeches or applause. Just as arranged, just as Kevin would have liked it. I will have a drink to this, tonight. Thank you all, staff of MCN, for awarding Kevin with this prestigious award. He would have very much appreciated this, and then he would have said something about this which I cannot possible write here.
I go round the stands and show it off. I am so proud.
I finish of the day with a beer and a smile on my face, having had a good day, and a long drive home.
Sunday, 9 February 2014
I woke up with the realisation I had forgotten to buy Saturday's Daily Telegraph. How do I get hold of one now? I want to read the motoring section. I jump into the car and pick it up from one of my clients I work for.
There, for the first time, is an article about me written by Erin Baker, the Daily Telegraph's motoring correspondent! I am so excited. I wish Kevin could see this. I hope he can. He would be so proud of what I am trying to do, I am sure.
I have a strong desire to keep Kevin's life going. He was such a great man, I do not want his work and his passion for motorcycles to stop for him or for myself. I feel I still have a connection with him by riding bikes. I can not have him back, but I am hoping to ease my pain by doing the things which we loved to do, such as riding motorcycles. I now know I do not have to say goodbye to that as well. I have to create my future myself now. I would like to do the things Kevin and I had planned, hoping it will help me to come to terms with losing Kevin and our future together.
All this is way out of my comfort zone. For years I have been very happy being pillion with Kevin, and had little desire to ride myself. Kevin was an excellent rider, full of confidence, without taking stupid risks. He knew his limitations and worked to improve himself. But, having lost my rider, I have to move forward on the seat of the bike and take control myself.