Picture the scene, I am sat astride a powerful Suzuki SV650S, a pointy to those in the know and my hip is aching, twenty seconds after climbing aboard. This does not bode well given that I am about to embark on an epic journey, my first big one on my own. I dismount and stretch out my legs and then climb back on, the engine is gently purring, I snap my helmet closed, pull in the clutch and select first gear. The bike pulls away beautifully I am away.
It was Thursday and I was on my way to see some gorgeous friends from way back, firstly I was riding over to Box, just outside of Bath to see my friend Tina and meeting me there was one of the most special people in my life, my dear friend Sarah, freshly flown over from the States.
The journey from Weston to Bath was simple and actually rather enjoyable, for a motorway trip, but was a good opportunity for a spot of MP3 action. My player is filled with a mish mash of rock, blues, folk and Black Metal, which makes for an interesting riding experience when the music switched from “With Strength I burn” by Emperor to “Three Ballons” by Stephen Lynch.
The final bit of road up to Tina's Farm was quiet and when I pulled off on the track that leads to her gate, I felt like I was a thousand miles from the nearest person. The Farm was deserted, apart from two loud and happy dogs. Rosie, the boarder collie was pleased to see me and came bounding over to say hello and have a cuddle. The Bike cooled as she sat parked next to the chicken house and I sat on the steps of Tina's truck waiting for her to come back from her deliveries.
Sarah arrived first with Jan and the smile on my face was matched by hers. It is no exaggeration to say that Sarah looks amazing, every time I have seen her recently, she looks happier and healthier. A happy life in America obviously agrees with her and she gave me such a hug. I did not realise that I had missed my friend so much, but knowing that she is happy and well eases the loss.
Tina arrived next and again, she looked amazing. Tina lives in a dream world of her own creating and she worked damn hard to make it real, the farm is beautiful, animals are every where and the feeling of peace, calm and tranquillity is everywhere, as if the farm is made of the very substance.
A tour of the farm with Tina and Sarah allowed us to meet a foal, less than a full day old and being cared for by his beautiful mother. It was a real feeling of joy to see such a beautiful animal standing and walking, despite being so young and tiny. Next was the goats and to see baby goats wandering around and bleating is a joy I shall never forget. The only sad part of it is that very soon a couple of the goats are probably going to die due to bracken poisoning they picked up before Tina bought them. As for the rest, if anyone wants fresh organic goat in a few months, Tina is your woman.
We all retired to the barn and helped Sarah pack and store her kit, taping up the boxes to ensure that the Mice would not find it easy to get in an eat the contents. Once packed and stored we got ready to hit the road once again. The plan was for me to follow Sarah and Jan back to Frome and stop over for a proper chat and a catch up. A simple journey you would think, but you are forgetting that the roads from Box to Bradford Upon Avon are lanes that are barely a car width wide and covered in loose gravel, moss and slime. After a couple of scary moments we finally pulled out onto a real road and I was able to keep up easily, just hanging back enough for the sake of safety.
Total distance so far was close to sixty miles, my wrists were starting to ache, my back was starting to ache and my arse was slowly going numb. Thankfully, we pulled up outside of Jan's house and I parked the bike up, set the alarm and took off my riding gear. The day was warming up nicely and the road was sticky, pretty much like the inside of my bike jacket.
The time with Sarah was pretty cool, chatting and catching up on news, talking about our respective partners and just enjoying being with a good friend again. Then like a moonbeam on a cloudy night Alex walked in and greeted me with a smile that could dazzle a blind man. A few compliments about Sylvie my fabulous steed and I offered her the key. It is funny, I have not seen a lot of Alex since 2000, but the years have been kind to her. She declined the offer of taking Sylvie for a spin and as quickly as she came in, she headed off to work again.
The time passed far too quickly and I realised that I needed to head off to ensure that I got home before dark. A quick look at Google Maps and I knew the way home. Yeah, sure. I would not get lost now would I? Two minutes after leaving my dear friend Sarah, I was lost in the middle of Frome, but found myself outside of my dear friend Emma's wobbly house. Sadly despite my banging on her door like a mad woman, Emma was not in. So it was back on Sylvie and back on the road home.
The road home was joyous, Frome to Shepton Mallet to Wells to Cheddar to Banwell and finally Weston and home. Frome was much easier to ride through once I had worked out where I was going and the sign post led the way on to a nice big wide road. On this journey home something happened to my riding, I felt like I bonded with Sylvie, she responded to my input in a way that I had not felt before. It is probably more likely that she has trained me to ride her properly. Sylvie has presence on the road and she flows from corner to corner in a way that touches my soul. I held the speed in the corners as the music played in my helmet, it was a feeling like no other I have experienced, as the bike snarls down though the gear box and the corners lay down before Sylvie and I. I became a better rider that evening.
Finally the road cut through Cheddar and I rolled down into Banwell, past the castle and through the light traffic. Weston came next and finally home. The tacho read one hundred and three miles, my arse said one hundred and three painful miles and my body was exhausted. I put Sylvie away and walked back up to the flat, a wiser, more experienced rider than I had been that very morning. One hundred and three miles later, I still loved my bike.