It's been a long time since we've had some overly hot nights in Milton Keynes. You know the ones - where you can't get to sleep for the insatiable heat and you're just tossing and turning. So here's a little story from a while ago about one such night. Was this a dream or did it actually happen?
A Midsummer Night's Dream found me out on the roads of MK one hot night!
I'm lying in bed. The covers are kicked off and I lay there naked, wondering if the other side of the pillow will give cool respite to my torment. Should I turn over again? For the thousandth time tonight? When will sleep come? The open window offers only the broken silence of suburbia. I hear a fox calling, and an empty tin tumbles across the lonely tarmac outside.
The image of a road crosses my mind, and I find myself sitting upright on the edge of my bed. The wooden flooring feels cool on the soles of my feet, and I rub the sweat from my brow then run my fingers through my damp hair.
I spot my Kevlar jeans lying on the floor, and my mesh riding jacket slung lazily over the chair in the corner. I catch sight of myself in the wardrobe mirror and my reflection smiles back at me, willing me to do something about the heat. Sigh ... "Ah, sod it" I think ... "I'm off out on the bike".
I'm standing on my driveway, drenched in the cool blue moonlight and warm sticky sweat. A billion stars on fire above me and I pick out Cassiopeia and the Plough from the dark, endless void. It's so clear tonight. It's so beautiful. The riding will be perfect ...
I'm listening to the burbling exhaust of my Fireblade as she warms up. Clad in my Kevlar jeans, biker boots and a strappy, black top, I zip up my mesh armour jacket and rue the clamminess immediately. I wonder if I should ride without it but decide against the stupidity my subconscious mind offers from the darkness. I've got my tight little scratching gloves on, and I fasten the Velcro around my wrists and flex my fingers.
The engine note on my blade drops and the revs stabilise as she tells me she's ready to go. She seems as eager for this as I am. I climb aboard, take the balance from her and kick up the stand. Helmet fastened. Vents and visor open. Lights on ...
I'm riding up my estate road. I keep the revs low and jink from side to side, getting my tyres nice and warm, listening to the drone of my twin-pot exhaust. I get up to twenty miles per hour and I feel the breeze start to touch my skin. I begin to cool off and my body thanks me with a shot of blissful endorphins. I sigh happily and look forward to the wind raging around me once I hit the main road.
I see an urban Fox further up the road. The bin-raider stops in the middle of the tarmac and stares curiously, his eyes lit up with the reflection from my headlight and his ears pricked towards me.
I am too far away for him to care and he continues on his way and disappears into the undergrowth. A curtain twitches and I see the almost silhouette of a man topless in his window. He watches me ride past and I nod at him and continue on my way.
I'm rolling to a stop at the main road. I put my foot down then look left and right. Nothing but silence. This is how it's going to be tonight. Endless well-lit dual carriageways, beautifully cambered roundabouts covered in hot sticky tarmac, and the small possibility of meeting another free spirit out there. Someone who had the same idea as me ...
Clutch in and a gentle "Clunk!" from the gearbox. She's in first gear. A final check up the road to make sure it's empty and I crack open the throttle, slowly let out the clutch, and push away with my foot. She launches forward and the engine note builds.
From first to second ... to third ... to fourth ... to fifth ... blips and twists, all the way up through the gearbox. The wind rages around me, tearing through my mesh jacket and chilling my skin with its ever-growing intensity. I can feel the goosebumps and I shiver a little at the sudden change in temperature.
I'm thundering up the long, straight dual carriageway with a screaming engine beneath me. My bike is slicing excitedly through the still morning air. I'm approaching a roundabout and her exhaust spits and pops as I jam the throttle shut and start to apply some back brake. Down through the gears, slowing ... slowing ... checking my mirrors ... lining up ...
Something catches my eye ... a single headlight flashing in from the left ... approaching the roundabout a bit faster than I am. They'll get there first, but no matter. What is it? An R1? A GSXR? A big grin spreads across my face as I calculate the odds.
I change my mind. Instead of straight on, I get my knee down and bank right around the roundabout and crack open the throttle at the apex. My beautiful little Fireblade responds to my demand and surges forward with a roar. I see a tail-light fifty yards in front of me as a kick of adrenaline floods my body. My eyes narrow and I lock onto my target.
I feel cool now, I feel so alive ... yip, they've seen me ... it's time to go play!