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Saturday, October 17, 2015

A change of pace . . .

Before I moved to Beijing, in June 2013, a friend asked if I was going to get a bicycle and I laughed at him. Other friends, whom I have ridden motorcycles with in the United States and elsewhere, asked if I would get a motorcycle and, without laughing, I thought that highly unlikely. I'd briefly looked at the possibility, only to find I would need to first get a car driver's license in China and hold that for a year before I could even apply for a motorcycle license.

As someone who finds it hard to commit to a two-hour movie, that didn't seem worthy of even considering.

Fast forward 2-plus years and I've been having a ball on a borrowed bicycle that was then gifted to me (many thanks, John Butcher). It has expanded my Beijing horizons in ways I never expected and made me feel more a part of where I live.

Then, while attending a photography exhibition by a friend and colleague, I got talking to a young French guy with a motorcycle who said it had changed his life in China. He also informed me that the law had changed (shortly after I arrived, I have discovered). Now, if you already hold a license in your home country, whether car, motorcycle or both (that's all I have), all you need do is pass the written test to get a Chinese license.

He also had a friend with a motorcycle to sell . . .

Anyone who knows me, knows what happened next.

I picked up my new baby last Sunday and rode her home a little timidly, being accustomed to being on a bicycle in Beijing traffic. I took her out again on Tuesday after work and felt a little more comfortable. Today (Saturday), I rode her to find a gear shop and buy a good jacket and great gloves (both achieved) and just had fun. It's been a year or two since I've ridden but it all come back quickly. A need to brake suddenly, and a resulting rear slide, reminded me of the need to use both brakes in an emergency and I played with her weight, power and agility to see what she can do.

I also had to get used to her girth. I'm accustomed to bikes that are able to fit where the handlebars fit but this girl has side boxes attached, giving her some junk in her trunk. Rather than being a cat that can fit where my whiskers fit, I'm a cat with a seriously wide rear end.

But, I'm in love with her, and look forward to learning all her quirks, qualities and faults. I assume she will be forgiving of mine . . .

Baby needed a wash - I was going to buy cleaning gear then realized I can have it done on the side of the road, and support the local economy. Win-Win!

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