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It's Now or Never


A quick recap:   2015 a moment of madness we buy a chief, then we book lessons for full access motorcycle training,  thinking it would be a breeze I quickly found out I may not ever pass as it is completely out of my comfort zone, balancing on 2 wheels was not as easy as I thought. Not being a quitter I battled on.  Two days after  passing my test I jumped onto my 1947 chief, stupid I know, but I had just done the unthinkable (passing my test).  My  lack of knowledge meant I couldn't react in time to stop a mini  crash  into a wall where I broke my wrist and my pride.
So a new plan was thought up and I bought a new Indian scout to gain biking experience and confidence building. After picking up the scout from Bury St Edmunds I had the same challenge as the old chief putting my feet to the front of the bike (cruiser position) and not to the back like the modern (sports) bike I passed my test on. Silly I know but don't forget I had never ridden in my life. I swear my hubby is trying to kill me off. Ha-ha well I quickly got used to the Polaris Indian scout bike and then my challenge to myself was put in place.

Moving forwards:  I was in no rush to ride the old bikes but needed to set a goal. So my goal was a long but well needed one. 
Ride for 2 years ✔DONE. A minimum of 9 thousand miles✔DONE.  Then set a date for challenge chief. ✔DONE
Last challenge was changed as Andy bought a 1929 Indian scout 101 (named Mike). Even better, learn on that before getting on the big chief.  So 2 years are up, mileage has been done and every scenario covered.
It’s time to ride a foot clutch and hand shifter.

I booked in at my mom’s Bed and Breakfast in Skegness.  Date and destination sorted. I did this because I felt if I just went round the block it wouldn't be a long enough ride to remember what I just learned.
The night before the big day:  We went to pick up the two bikes from the factory. Mike the 101 and brock the brave. Felt sorry for Andy on the brave, he looked too big for the bike and all scrunched up, well he's big enough to sort himself out, I had my own things to worry about. So after picking the bikes up Andy said you may as well ride it now so you will be ready for tomorrow. Well there and then I went into melt down. All the fear and anxiety came flooding back.  Just like the cold and wet Monday nights back in 2015 when I did my motorcycle training.  I sat on the 101 running I clutched down put it in gear then back to neutral and got off. I couldn't do it.  I was so annoyed with myself. After a few texts to my friend Peter and Anita I was ok.

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So after a worrying night and lack of sleep we got the bikes out and saddled up, Andy got the bikes started and we both stalled at the get go. "that's it call it off" I shouted in fear." no no no" Andy bellowed back. Oh crap I thought. So we swapped bikes till we had filled with fuel and gave the bikes time to warm up too. So after filling up with fuel the town was getting very busy. So I said "find a place to stop just out of town and we can swap over".

Well it is now or never. The moment I've dreaded but then so wanted to do and bless Andy's patience his face was full of fear and worry. Not the encouragement face I could do with right now. Well at worst I would just end up with another broken bone or two. So sort my s**t out and just do it. With a gasp and a sigh I set off.  Andy was told he must talk me through step by step at every junction via the intercoms (my guardian angel) just till I got the gist.

Well I only stalled a few times just like the training lessons back in the day, not enough revs.
I even managed to ride through Boston in heavy traffic with no episode other than the little Brave breaking down. Which was due to over oiling big time and had to have the spark plug cleaned.   
Because I had stalled at a few junctions I made a point of starting the bike all by myself. This was ok until the back of my knee was so sore from hitting the seat every time I kicked it over. I soon learned to kick it over with the heel of my foot. I do bruise so easy my leg went completely dead.
So, 6 hours, 2 breakdowns later we made it to Skegness.
I text my friend to tell her I had made it and predictive text changed it to read “made it to Skegness with my foot clutch and shit stick" she then replied "glad you got there ok, hope your stick didn't give you too much shit" which I think summed up everything.
I am so proud to have done it on such an iconic bike. I spent 2 years asking myself WHEN will I go for it, well less than a week after my 46th birthday I did what I set out to do.
120 miles with no mishaps.
I had just got to do it all again the next day on the way back. Andy didn't have to talk me through each step on the way back and we made it home in 4 hours with no breakdowns. At our last fuel stop at Grantham a group of bikers pulled in to the petrol station, one of them was on a black Polaris scout. First time I have seen a non-Indian rider’s member on one, I had great pleasure telling him I rode the 101 for the first time. Lol. They loved the 2 bikes and were really chatty.
after 240 miles there and back  I asked Andy for feedback on my first attempt,  he said he didn't like the distance I left approaching junctions. As I almost got hit up the back by someone not paying attention, I was oblivious, and they had expecting me to ride up to the junction. My reason for doing this was pretty much of the same. If I got it wrong I didn't want to hit anyone else. So I can't complain at that 1 fault.
Well I think I've come a long way for a non-biker in such a small amount of time...

I think I might have to buy my own scout now. Until then I will have to borrow Andy's as he's ridden my chief for the last two years. Then when I’m ready to jump on chief I know I can.
But for now I’m happy to bang up the miles on the 101 and get more experience with the foot clutch.
One step at a time.

I have to say from the bottom of my heart I will never feel like I'm a biker as I started so late in life.  To me a biker is someone who jumped on a bike from a young age. 
I am a biker 
I’m proud to ride the iconic Indians new and old. And own one of each.   They have captured my heart with the look, history and the attention they get. Indian are the only brand I will ever ride. It’s an honour to be able to ride a stick shift Indian and truly love it.
My plan was to ride a stick shift once even if I never did it again.  At least I could   say I’d done it,
But it won’t be the once I will be out on him next weekend. Oh yeah please Andy can I go on your 101.

I've got a big birthday in 4 years’ time. Get saving up Andy
Thank you to my mom for my little vanity mirror she bought me to celebrate my challenge complete with yes you guessed it an Indian on the front.

I was very nervous. didn't want to let myself down, I didn't want to let all my friends down as you all  have  given me so much support and believed in me.  The bikes have been so forgiving when I got it so wrong.  As I've let Andy use my chief these last 2 years I think it entitles me to unlimited goes on his 101. 😍  Andy has supported me with my ups and downs. I’ve been jealous of him being able to ride the old ones. But I can now ride them to. Can’t wait to do our road trips all over the world together.


Vera Townsend Now or Never



Indian Motocycles - you can't wear them out                                  Indian Motocycles - built to last  
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