Monday, 7 February 2011

Do you remember your first time?

It felt slightly dirty, a little bit taboo and then it made me squeal with ecstasy, the chap who took my cherry chatted to me for a while as the heat of excitement dissipated and then we did it again. 

Yeah, my first ever ride on a bike was with a dear friend of mine on the back of his CB250 Super Dream. The bike was slow, heavy and under powered, but it was a bike and we were free to ride where ever we wanted. We clocked up hundreds of miles and even attended a rally together. That was nearly twenty years ago and I had forgotten about it until very recently.

What reminded me was something that happened to me on Friday, or rather happened to some one else with me. I was working in a small town near Bristol and took a ride over on the SV due to the Yam still being a paper weight in the garage.

The support worker I was teamed with on this day was a young woman called Rosie, just into her twenties and she is lovely, very gentle and brilliant with our lad. However, upon telling her that I was going to offer her a lift home, she squealed and danced around the house, which made our lad smile and laugh, before giving her a hug.

So at the end of our day, having enjoyed some great art and even some cooking, Rosie started to get ready to go. I gave her some spare gear that I had brought with me, which only just fitted her due to me being tall and chubby and her being shorter and a lot thinner, the joy of age and then we were ready to go.

Now I am not averse to nubile young women holding onto me, but I will admit that this was cool for a different reason. She giggled and laughed as she got comfortable on the pillion pad before I pressed the go buttons. I swear to you that she screamed all the way down the drive way and giggled all the way to the first turn. I was being very gentle and was giving her time to get used to how a bike feels. All I could hear was excited giggling as we gently headed up the road.

Our first stop was where she phoned the home of her next client. she told them to look out for her on my bike. The client was not amused, she wanted a go on the bike too! So we headed off into the hills and made our way to the clients house. At one point we entered a section of road that has national speed limit signs and the car in front of us was travelling at barely 40. It just required a little over take and so I nipped out and back in again making progress past the slow moving car. My friend on the back was giggling and whooping as we ambled past.

Finally we arrived at the clients house, a young woman who we both know well and really enjoy working with. Technically I was finished for the day, Rosie was about to start a night shift, but just going back home seemed boring. Our clients was a little jealous of Rosie because she has been desperate for a ride on the bike ever since she first met me, how could I refuse?

Working with adults who have learning difficulties and physical disabilities is both very challenging and very rewarding work, but it is work I really enjoy. My friend and I helped our client put on her bike gear and checked her new helmet before going outside and starting the bike. She climbed on the back and we both made sure that she knew how to tell me to stop if she needed to get off. Then I pulled away and very gently performed a full circle on the road outside her house, thank the town planner for the extra wide vehicle turning area.

My new pillion hugged me tightly from behind and was looking over my right shoulder to see where we were going, I knew that she was a little scared, but she would never show it to her housemate or us support workers. So at gentle pace we set off for a short ride around town. She loved it. As we were coming home and coming across the motorway fly over, we watched a black unmarked Police Car, come racing up the slip way with blue flashing lights and tare off in pursuit of a badly driven Landrover Disco!

Once back home our client jumped off, she was in a completely different mood to the quiet, with drawn mood that we found her in. Her face was all smiles, she was bouncing along and filled with joy, just like my friend Rosie. Two very different women, with very different places in the world, now joined in a common experience of adventure.

Rosie will be having a lift again when we work together next, she loved the bike and maybe one day she will get a bike of her own. Our client though is another story, she will never be allowed to ride her own bike on the roads due to her disability, but I do not see why this should stop her having fun. So once we hit summer and the local bike nights start up again, I will be picking her up and bringing her over, so she can have a proper ride out, she can see lots of other bikes and she can meet other bikers. I know that she wants to do this and I know that she is hugely excited by the idea.

Damn, I love my job and I love riding my bike, I love it even more when the two things are combined. So folks, if any of you happen to bump into me at a bike event and I have a young woman in my care, don't be shy or dismissive of her because of her disability, she is just as much a biker as the rest of us.