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Dairy Diary #6

February 19, 2013

It hasn’t escaped my attention – and likely not yours – that these reports of my farming experiences have been fairly dominated by episodes of a bungling nature. Recounting tales of such amazing ineptitude makes these occasions seem like they had, in a way, a purpose. Hindsight lends these stories an air of pleasantness. Something they certainly didn’t have at the time.

So, you may have come to expect another thousand + words of folly and dim-witted carry-ons – but this time you’d be wrong. This time it will be less than a thousand words.

Those of you who read the first Dairy Diary might recall that I’d managed to secure this job under the pretence that I was able to ride a motorcycle. A pretence discovered within minutes to be false. This liberal use of the truth had succeeded in landing me an income, but, it did even better at landing me in the muck – figuratively and otherwise.

I became acquainted with my bike.

The first lesson was starting the engine. This is begun by positioning yourself with your legs either side of the bike and sitting in the saddle. You’re to follow this by placing the key in the ignition and turning it clockwise. Then, with every ounce of strength, wildly pump the kick-start lever with your left leg three to four hundred times; or, until you’re just about ready to roll the bike off the nearest cliff.

My wheels.

My wheels.

If you’ve resisted the temptation of fetching a sledge to it and the engine has actually started, you can move on to the next phase. Pulling away on a bike like this is all about mastering the balance between control and timing – not easily done with something that infuriates you to the marrow.

Several attempts at this would generally have me revving the engine so high it sounded like a low flying Airbus, then, mistiming the clutch-release and sending the bike off unmanned into the barn wall. Eventually, gradual progress will be made when your paycheque depends on it.

Providing you want to go faster than 5 miles per hour, you will need to know how to change gear. To me, 5 mph seemed ample, but I was told otherwise and instructed to learn. Each person has their own method for changing from one gear to the next and my own can best be described as iffy.

Mounting the bike I found quite easy. But, not nearly as easy as dismounting. This was the part of the sequence that came most naturally to me. So much so in fact, I often accomplished it without even the slightest intention. And, I might add, at quite some speed. Even as a perfect novice I would find no problem in leaving the bike within 2 seconds of getting on it. Some might have said I was gifted.

Once you’ve grown in confidence enough to attempt to cover a good distance, a mysterious transformation occurs upon the surface you’re travelling on. What once looked as flat and accommodating as the M4 suddenly becomes riddled with bumps, potholes, stones and rocks big enough to jack knife an Australian road-train.

Under operation of a novice the bike becomes as accurate a tool at detecting these blemishes as a carpenter’s spirit level and navigating any stretch of track on one of these machines becomes a tooth grinding experience.

It takes weeks of practice and several consecutive days free from accident to convince you you’ve now acquired the art of motorcycling on the farm. But, it takes only a moment to prove you’ve actually acquired nothing of the sort.

Motoring along at a handsome speed one day – my attention firmly committed to an Easy Rider fantasy: as is the wont of all newbie motorcyclists – I presently traversed an average sized boulder and took to the air quite apart from my bike.

This is how I'm sure I looked before hitting that boulder.

This is how I’m sure I looked before hitting that boulder.

Very rarely did drifting off into these boyish reveries improve my biking circumstance any. It did perhaps the exact opposite. On occasion, even the most basic of manoeuvres managed to present me with great difficulty.

Rounding a bend while sounding out the second verse of Born to Be Wild the bike encountered a steering issue that had developed into a jerky zigzag before I’d realised I was in trouble. It was my natural instinct to wrestle with the handlebars in such a way as to almost pull them out of their sockets. This helped in no way. And at last the machine went slanting for the ditch in direct defiance of my efforts and cast me abroad to test the resilience of a fence post. It passed by my account.

At least one minor biking incident would occur on the farm almost every day: from my first to my last – definitely on my last.

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From → New Zealand

One Comment
  1. I enjoyed reading this – it made me laugh. Your last line is interesting and am wondering whether I will find the next installment quite so funny!

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