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Southport Swannie Sojourn - Aug 2013

Time off work now equals bike time. So my next day off means a second outing for the bike and a trip to Southport. The carousel at Southport is a biker hang out so it is kind of a big deal to be going there under my own horse power, all 11 of them.

I try my best not to over-think the ride. The boring, sensible, panic side of my me says Southport, you on your own bike, no way! I put this side of me in a box, close the lid and leave the more optimistic side to smile and say Southport, ok sure lets go.

The main problem will be that as I am riding a new bike I am still running it in so I am at present restricted to 40mph max. Despite the limited speed good friends Kath and Rick agree to come along and we arrange to meet at one of our usual meet up points for club ride outs.

I have not been on the bike for a few days and I feel rusty already. Ren leads and he waves at me to try and move along a bit faster. I make the mistake of trying to catch him up just as I approach a bend in the road and it all goes wrong. I hit the bend too fast and I panic and hit the brakes, front and back. WRONG!! The bike stands up and stops travelling around the bend and instead heads straight for the barbed wire fence in front of me. Arrgghh. I know it is too late to try and save the corner, I am too straight on to make it now. I also know that this sharp bend is NOT a safe place to stop on. But the latter choice is the only one really available as the only alternative would be to career through a fence, so brakes stay on and STOP!! Luckily there is no traffic behind me and I get away with stopping on the bend.

I am shaking, I have knocked my confidence hard. It takes what seems an age for me to calm down enough to re-start the bike and carry on. We are the first to arrive at the meeting point and I climb off the bike with jelly legs. Ren tries to reassure me and advises me to just put it behind me. I will try but I know I have scared myself big time.

Kath and Rick arrive followed by two other Swannie members Duanne and Carly. They have decided to come along too, I just hope they don't get bored to death having a slow ride. I enjoy riding in a group but being a new learner I am also aware that every mistake will be noticed by who ever happens to be riding behind me. All the Swannies are lovely and I know they care and will be understanding but I still hope I do not make a complete arse of myself in front of them. I am still tense as we set off and every corner fills me with a sense of foreboding. The weather however is bright and some of my anxiety abates as we ride along. A nice straight road gives me time enough to unclench my fingers and remember to actually enjoy the ride once again. Praise about my riding and Kath's from our fellow Swannies lift my spirits further and I am soon riding along quite happily. Well as happily as a nervous, scared herself shitless learner gets that is.

All goes fairly well and we are even joined on route by another Swannie Mick on his shiny new Kawasaki 1400. I do not think Mick's bike likes going slow enough to keep pace with either me or the building traffic as we approach Southport, so he and the others on the big bikes go on ahead for a while. Meanwhile in the slow world of the learner 125 I get stuck in stop - start traffic. But rather than get too frustrated I accept it is in all truth very good practise on how to keep stopping and starting and how to roll the bike slowly along in slow moving traffic. A skill in itself.

The traffic clears once we get pass the roundabouts and the coastal road is fun to ride along. However once we near the centre of town and the Carousel it gets suddenly very busy indeed. My little heart begins to race as I spy all the traffic lights and vehicles every which way. I wait what must have been too long at a junction for the car behind me because he loses patience and despite my learner plates decides he will try to overtake me just as I emerge into the road. This is not appreciated by the bf so he knocks on the car's window and has a word with the driver for cutting up a learner.

As we approach the Carousel I really begin to feel my nerves. I hope there is a space to park and I really, really hope I do not fall off and create a domino effect with all the other bikes there. Luckily there is plenty of space for us all to park with relative ease and me and Kath give each other a big grin. We made it - go us!

sharon stands next to her new 125 with l plates in the sunshine at the carousel at southport
Space to park and time to relax and enjoy the moment  

A rest, a bite to eat and a drink and we set off again, this time with Preston Harley being the destination in mind. Since we arrived a lot more bikes have parked up and trying to weave through these and the packed pedestrians is not an easy task. My eyes widen when I realise I will actually have to bump down a curb to get onto the road. Surely this is the moment I will fall off, after all me and curbs do not get on. I pray for the best and bump down. Wow I am still upright.

6 bikers stand in lines arms over each other's shoulders, the swannies with sharon
Good friends make a good day great!!

We ride as a group to Preston and it feels good to know my back it being watched and kept safe by my mates. I notice I am beginning to fluff up again on my approach to some roundabouts, a sure sign I am getting tired. Preston Harley comes as a welcome relief and it has a nice cafe to sit and relax in. I manage to park nice and smart next to Ren's bike and I think it is my best parking yet.

sharon's 125 parked smarty inline next to the bf's bike outside the harley davidson shop preston
One thing is improving ... my parking, how neat is that?

Final stop of the day will be Rivington Barn. It is on the way home so it makes sense to stop off there but more little fluffs once again show tiredness is my learner enemy. Rivington is very, very busy, people and cars everywhere. Just as I turn into the road leading up to the top barn a car decides to pull out from behind a parked car right into my path. I do as good an emergency stop as I am able and I wobble rather precariously just in front of his bumper and once again I am amazed to find myself still upright.

I park in the lower car park rather than the top because I think I have pushed my luck enough today. I have had some scary moments today but I also have had a lot of fun. I know I have to learn to accept that as a learner I will continue to make mistakes and all I can do is try to learn from them the best I can. I will also have to try and not beat myself up about them too much. I am after all just a little learner.  

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Reader's Comments

kath brooks said :-
Once again Sharon great account of a brilliant day
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Diane said :-
I'm loving your blog. I can so relate to everything you say so far :-) x
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Sharon said :-
Glad you are enjoying reading the blog Diane. Makes it worth while writing if I know it may help others relate and not feel so alone with any fears and mishaps. I am no super natural rider that's for sure :-)
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bernie kenyon said :-
I have just been given this link to your blog. Loving it already. Big thumbs up to you x
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Sharon said :-
Thanks Bernie, great to hear you like reading my blog.
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