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Sunday, 5 August 2012
Hands on History
"Left foot up and on the peg,
both eyes looking straight ahead!"
"The right foot is your forward thrust."
"Gather speed then up you fly
and sail into the saddle."
Such advice, coming in from all quarters,
is often contradictory,
but not in this case - though perhaps
it lacked a little all-inclusiveness.
Seemed simple to a boy like me
whose great delight was boarding moving buses.
Tough to spot the difference, I thought -
apart from a few cusses.
Unknown to me back then, the phrase
"at breakneck speed" had first been coined
by penny farthing riders.
A member of our local touring club,
passionate collector of old bikes,
one Sunday in each year invited us
to share and ride his treasures.
So now, I'd followed all the good advice,
but still it didn't feel like flying
as I made it to the saddle -
nor sailing come to that!
And once ensconced the thought occurred:
no one had mentioned balance. Why was that?
Instinct told me what I knew -
steer into the wobble.
Then instinct played it dumb,
forgot to add: don't lean. I leant.
My good friends rescued me,
and for a bit I was content
with "left foot up and on the peg"
to scoot the thing along.
I guess I would have stuck to that,
but didn't see the slope ahead,
and couldn't scoot that fast.
Next time I had the beating of the beast.
I steered into the wobble, didn't lean -
and waited for the big machine
to come up straight again.
Imagine someone used to riding
Derby winners, thrown up on an elephant.
It seemed an age we lumbered on
before it knew I'd turned the bars.
Another piece of missing info'
concerned the getting off!
To slow, I knew to pedal backwards,hard
and braking all the time.
But after that, what then
for someone in the stratosphere
without a parachute?
I made it to a lamp-post and shinned down.
Written for Brian Miller's Poetics - His'tory, Her Story and Time Machines at dVerse ~ Poets' Pub
The image is from Wikepedia