Interesting Visitors and An Exhilarating Ride

5th June 2022 |

When I first moved into Aspiran, my village in the South of France, there were people here who thought they would be overrun by hordes of noisy bikers; a sort of Mediterranean Sturgis. Alain, the café owner, would have been delighted, of course. Everybody else would have wanted to run me out of town.

They vastly overrated my notoriety. It seems I am not so famous after all. What with Covid and all, I can count on my fingers and toes the number of riders who have actually turned up at my house, not to mention the three others who came to the village but couldn’t find me.

What I will say though is that the ones who did find me have all been very interesting, intelligent people with an extraordinary range of professions, like the two who turned up the other day. Matthias from Berlin spent years of his life working for a UN agency trying to control drug production before he gave it up, I gather, as a lost cause. Oskar from Holland runs a head-hunting agency in the field of logistics. I have had a marine biologist, a high-flying geneticist, an agricultural advisor to under-developed countries, and a video producer from New York, but also several people who were just very stimulating regardless of what they did for a living.

People who travel on bikes are pretty extraordinary, and even though many credit me with having got them on the road I’m fairly sure they would have found their own way there sooner or later. My problem, sadly, is to find my way back.

My yellow BMW sits in the garage and looks at me despairingly. I keep the battery charged but it’s a long time since I took it out. The truth is I know I am losing strength – physical strength. Sitting on the bike is not a problem; I can ride it well enough. But manoeuvering it on the ground is harder, and I am not at all sure I could pick it up. Then the other day I thought I really must make my mind up about this and got ready to ride it out of the garage.

The starter failed.

Just a stream of rapid clicks. How could that happen, with the bike just standing there? I started it not long ago, just to make sure. Who says bikes don’t have feelings?

Does it know that only ten days ago I bought another MP3 scooter? I’ve finally admitted the truth; for running around here, between two houses, shopping and so on, the old MP3 I took around the UK was really much handier than the BMW. So I’ve bought another one, with a bigger engine. 500cc.

I bought it from a restaurant owner 125 miles away in Toulouse and brought it back in an exhilarating ride just before dark.

So now I will have to get the BMW to a mechanic, three miles away, and I don’t feel I have the strength to push start it safely. Sure, I’ll find someone to help, but the lesson is all too clear. If I can’t handle the bike on the ground maybe it really is time to let it go. I shouldn’t complain, and stop dithering. We’ve had a wonderful twenty-three years and 40,000k together, everywhere from Spain to Ukraine, England to Greece. Isn’t that enough . . . . well, not really. Damn!


I know, I know, it’s the battery, not the bike. No more street cred for Ted. But the rest of it was true. By the way, that was Matthius in the picture with me. He came from Berlin on his 1100.