Does it hurt?

Yes.

But less than walking. Less than taking the bus. And everything is going to hurt at some time or another so avoiding it because it hurts a bit seems ridiculous. Agony means time to stop or don’t start.When it doesn’t hurt much, then it’s time to go places and get things done.

Painkillers are something of a bad joke. Aside from when I have damaged myself in a new and temporary way they are a waste of time. Anything strong enough to stop things hurting means that my judgement is probably lacking. If it hurts too much do do something, It’s only going to hurt more if I find a way of ignoring it and doing that something.

That seat is a nice big soft chunk of foam that hugs my arse. I’ve got some bars to hold onto to keep my back in a nice position and a fuel tank to wrap my thighs around. There’s not a lot of weight on my wrists as I lean forward, as my lean mostly balances out the force of the wind on my chest. The whole thing vibrates like a massage chair, the 535 mostly at a fairly low amplitude throb. It’s quite nice. The 125s used to feel a little tingly if riding like I mean it, which on a 125 means pretty much all the time.

I started getting some major wrist pain on the second Suzuki GZ I owned, as it spent a lot of it’s time at Wide Open Throttle (WOT). This used to entail my forearm being horizontal and the back of my hand being pulled back nearly vertical. Not a particularly comfortable position. I got around this by swapping the throttle tube for a Yamaha one that had a larger diameter cam, which reduced the amount of twist to WOT, needed to be a tiny bit more sensitive with it, but I only had 12 horses to play with, which was hardly a bestial amount of power.

I’ve already mentioned aches with prolonged low speed manoeuvres in a previous article. It was the major killer doing my basic training, which I split over several sessions as I knew from the start that I wasn’t up for a 7 hour training day. It was annoying again during my mod 1 training and my incessant U-turn practice. Cruiser style bikes are well adapted to me, but their long wheelbase means the allowed space for a U-turn is very close to their minimum turning radius. Now I’ve passed all the tests I’ll ever need, it’s not something I do, getting lost is a rare event, and when I do need to turn around, it’s usually somewhere where a U-turn is inappropriate. Heavy traffic is something I meet from time to time and I hate it to the point of preferring to stop, in a McDonald’s if it’s the only dry place with coffee,  rather than soldier on through it, although it is nice to be able to filter through really slow traffic.

A long journey can leave me quite stiff from being in the same position for a long time. Getting off the the bike afterwards, that can hurt. Being in a different position having gotten used to that one, that can hurt. Have been known to find a bench, sit astride it, elbows on knees, leant slightly forward and find it stops hurting.

Cold hands. I don’t think anything is worse as hands stop functioning if they are very cold, and it’s a sign that the rest of you is pretty cold too. It’s a generic biker issue and I don’t think I get this any worse than anyone else. It was particularly bad getting to and from the test centres in Scunthorpe (mod 1, rain) and York (mod 2, damned cold). Winter grade gloves are obviously better than summer gloves, and it helps if the rest of your kit is warm and waterproof. Mine is all pretty good now as I like staying warm and dry. Came back from my mother’s once in jeans in the rain. Had waterproof (and armoured) trousers the next time I rode. I have a heated waistcoat somewhere. Used it occasionally on my 125. The 535 has an electrical system powerful enough to run heated grips. They are awesome in winter, turned all the way up the bars are too hot to hold. A big air cooled engine doesn’t let anywhere else get that cold, the rear cylinder head is just in front of my seat, so the insides and underneath of my thighs stay warm. I had to make a small heel guard to keep my left boot on the peg so I didn’t destroy the boot on the engine casing. The 535 has one on the right but not on the left. Sat at a level crossing with the engine off, i’ll warm my gloved hands on the engine if it’s a really cold day. On a really hot day, I’ll put the sidestand down and get off the bike before I bake. Summer cooling is mostly go faster and undo more vent zips. 60mph can be quite cold on a hot day if all the vents are open.

Importantly it hurts physically long before I’m mentally tired. If I can get on the bike and get it onto a road without severe discomfort, I’m likely to be in a fit state to ride. It’s something of an expectation that one doesn’t ride unless well rested. I’m fairly sure the same is not true for driving cars. It appears to be quite accepted and often encouraged that I use roadside cafes for a rest as much as for a snack, and most of the friends I vist by bike accept that there is a chance of me overnighting. I was afraid at one point that I might have upset some friends by not staying the night because I felt like riding. I explained later that it meant more to me to know how comfortably I could day trip to theirs.

Working on the bike. That really hurts. Not so much wrenching stuff as leaning over parts of the bike fiddling. It’s ok if I can sit or lie down and work beside the bike, electrical gremlins under the seat are really annoying and a recipe for backache. I don’t do all the work on the bike myself, but small jobs that can be left halfway through and don’t require any great feats of strength will usually be done by me. Loads of electrical gremlins on the 535 that mostly require a bit of patience and logic.

I am a masochist

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