Motorcycles
 
  Ramblings from my Travels With Guido column in Australian Motorcycle News.



Pleasuring
I've been intrigued by that term -- pleasuring. Though a basic note of pleasure is the foundation, it's the "ing" part which really gets me. It suggests something active and undefined, very motorcycling when you think about it.

Grab a motorcycle and there you have it: a wheel at the pointy and blunt ends, some means of propulsion in the middle, brakes, handlebars and somewhere to sit. Can't be too tricky to build one, can it? Okay, okay, I can accept the protest from the bod in the back row of the theatre (would you be a bike designer, Sir?) that years of racing development has gone into this fine example of the engineer's art.

No matter how you wrap it, it's still a motorcycle. Give it the right engine, it will be the most powerful. Add in the right aerodynamics and weight, it will be the fastest. Throw in the appropriate suspension/chassis package and it might be the fastest when someone presents it with a turn or bump for a GP. Which raises another question: doesn't GP stand for Grand Prize?

Have you seen the trophies they (from the same family of "they" who make paying taxes so taxing, apparently) sling at race winners? What are the riders meant to say? "Oh, gee, you shouldn't have...another cut crystal fruit platter with hand-etched motorcycle motif, done by a unique craftsgit whose grandad once met the first motorcycling Prime Minister of Finland? You shouldn't have...no, really..."

Grand prize? Come on you lot. A grand prize would be an all expenses-paid week on a Boeing 767 with all the men/women/small furry animals you can eat or do the other to. Slaves and platters of stuff should be in there as well.

Now there's a revealing interview. Grab the likes of regular top-line winners such as Mick the D, Carl the Foggy, Aaron the Slight and...well...oh dear, a short list, isn't it? You'd have to have the Gobert Show in there too. Ask them what they would regard as being a grand no-holds-barred prize.

I once interviewed Mr G on radio and he was a hoot to talk to. A genuine live-wire with no pretensions and a funny outlook on his life. And I'm backing him - well, up until the stop-it-at-once police got to him -- for the most interesting answer.

What all those folk have in common is a top-line motorcycle. Does the bike on its own pleasure them? Nup. It might be a nice and valuable trophy to hang over the proverbial fireplace, but it's a cold and useless object until they work or meld with it.

That's where the "ing" part comes in. Until the human gets on the bike, it's just a motorcycle. At that stage it could be a factory NSR500 or a CT110 postie. A cold and useless object.

Throw a leg over and it has some potential. But it's not until the powerplant fires and the awkward nexus of red mist, truncated survival instinct, unusual reflexes, mechanical telemetry versus biological and the weird twist of pilot's goal come into play that it means anything. We're now motorcyling and the motorcycle becomes a secondary but interesting tool. It's no longer the primary game.

If you need any illustration, look at the last corner of Mick's last lap at the 1997 Phillip Island GP. Can you imagine the sheer violence of what he was doing? I've tossed a few bikes into turn one at that track at over 200 - scared. Pussy. He was going it at 300, braking much, much, later on an infinitely more flighty machine.

The front end went. Wind the video back and have another look. He stuck that knee-grinder hard into the tar ? and you could see he had plenty of time to think, in Mick terms - figuring he just might save it. But the front tyre wouldn't play and, after a painfully long struggle, he let go...slid across the grass, got up and went on to the next battle.

Something which no-one has discussed till now is that he, regardless of the race loss, walked away with a big grin on his face. Despite the hideous risk to body and career, I reckon he enjoyed that battle with bike and physics. He'd grabbed the motorcycle and went pleasuring in a mad sphere of skill that most of us can only aspire to. Crash? Start a new game.




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Article by Guy Allen

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