One of the many things that you may not know about me (yet) is that I’m a biker. I was brought up around motorcycles. As a young girl, I would ride on the back of both my mum and my dad, depending on who’s turn it was to ride the Norton whilst the other one had to slum it in the car.
So, it was inevitable that when the time came, I would want a bike of my own.
I was a teenager growing up in a Lincolnshire steel town in the mid 80’s. Money was scarce in the Thatcher Post Industrial Apocalypse world that this Northern lass was growing up in.
At the age of sweet sixteen, legally, I could have ridden a 50cc. The Yamaha FS1E (Fizzy) was THE bike of the era for that all important first year of freedom. But, for me, at the time, it might as well have been a Ferrari. Out of my reach, out of my league, out of my pocket money range.
Back then, the humble motorbike was still the regular commuter vehicle for the working man. 100cc and 125cc bikes were common place and relatively affordable.
Reality check. I’d need to wait till I was seventeen, when I might just be able to get a nice, sensible, basic motorbike on the road. For the first time in my life, I needed a plan!
First thing I figured was that I needed about £150 to buy and insure a rough-ish but running bike. Bearing in mind, my pocket money was 50p a week, I earned another 50p by doing some household chores, and a final 50p helping my dad out with his spray-painting business. On my weekly income of £1.50 it would have taken me 100 weeks to get the money together. 100 weeks, nearly 2 whole years. I’d have been nearer eighteen by then and my goal was my seventeenth birthday.
The initial plan would not achieve the end goal I had in mind. But it spurred me into action. Quickly I secured a Saturday job, working in Poundstretcher, and an ad hoc baby-sitting gig. Pretty much everything was cash-based back then. I had a plastic jar that had previously held hair gel sitting on my bedroom dresser. All of my hard-earned cash went into that jar.
After a few months I had over £100 saved up, and my nightly scouring of the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph turned up a Honda CB100N for £75. It didn’t actually run, but seemed to be in reasonable mechanical shape. Trusting my motorcycling family, I sealed the deal and the bike came home with us. That winter, I worked through the wiring diagram to track down the electrical fault that stopped it running. I took the top end of the engine apart when it became apparent that there was an engine problem, I rebuilt the carburettor, reset the points and the bike came to life.
But when all was said and done, it was still a boring, blue, Honda motorcycle. It was transport, independence, but not yet the road machine of my dreams.
However, I had an advantage. My dad ran a spray-painting business. So, we took the bike apart, down to the last nut and bolt. Dad did the re-spray for me using paint that he had leftover from a job lot he’d bought when he started the business. The frame went from black to silver. And the petrol tank changed from blue to Metalflake Wild Rose Pink.
Rosie was born. She saw me from my seventeenth birthday, through my test, till I was nearly nineteen when I could finally afford a bigger bike.
Rosie taught me so much. She taught me mechanics and maintenance skills. She taught me the rules of the road. She taught me the pleasure and the responsibility of all of that freedom and independence. But she also taught me the power of a plan.
If you have a dream that you cling tightly enough to, you WILL make the plan that gets you there, the plan that makes the dream reality.