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Posts tagged ‘adrenaline’

My motorcycle diaries -3-

Part 3: Obsession satisfied:

Being the nerd that the youngest sibling was known for, with her obsession being so close to her grasp, she went off reading books and researching, trying to perfect her knowledge in motorcycles.

If you ever go back to her school, you will see on the lending sheets her name on each mechanical book that has anything and everything to do with motocross bikes, from the pictures to the detailed explanations of the rotors.
She worked hard, figured which parts were missing in her new-found toy, and assessed what she needed to fix it.

Being a smart-ass for the most, but leaning mostly on help from Bob (I.H); by the age of 10 the young girl had a working motocross, an authentic Honda XR80R, 1984.

Unfortunately being a smartass (as previously mentioned) and being over excited with her new-found toy, she decided to give it a test drive right after she got it running, causing her to fall in the first ditch next to the house due to the fact that she had forgotten to add foot breaks. Lesson learnt!

By age 11, Father’s youngest was roaming around the off-roads of the Cedars, trying on new tricks, trying to stabilize herself , learning the hard way how to drive a shift-gear engine, following the murmurs of the bike (up till today she never checked the rpm, she bases get driving with the use of sound and feel) and trusting her guts.

At age 12, she had met her new best friend H, with whom she will from then on share all her bike rides, teach her how to drive, and sometimes how to clean the bike after a muddy ride.

And this is when the first accident took place, it wasn’t a crash per-say, but imagine a twelve year old girl driving a cross bike off-road with an eleven year old girl holding on from the back; anything going wrong would be scary. But it wasn’t that bad, they had stopped on a dirt road, checking out some ATV riders rolling by them when one of them scared H off, being as young as they were, the girls didn’t know that you should never grab a driver from his shoulders, but always from his waist: so they toppled sideways. Being in tiny shorts, heavy helmets and as skinny as young hyper girls could be, their injuries on the gravel were worse than the fall itself. But they got over it quickly, and moved on to drive around again.

At age 13, the young girl decided to push herself and see how far her limits were, having her breaks break, driving into trees and bushes while attempting jumps and stunts (unfortunately riding tracks didn’t exist in Lebanon, so she had to do with natural settings and creating new roads), and, for the life of me I still can’t remember why, she decided to go for a stroll on an actual road.
Roads in the cedars are small, and most of the time empty; so she wasn’t scared of heading out.

Then there was a big crash sound, tires screeching, the motocross falling to the ground and the young girl flying (literarily) then skidding on the pavement; Echoes of voices screaming, lights flashing, the feeling of nausea as well as an indescribable feeling of ecstasy from the flight.  

The little girl was on the ground, face up to the clouds, numb. She survived, with a fractured neck bone, a couple of bruised ribs, a head injury, and numb knees. “Please don’t let me be paralyzed” was the first thing that came to her mind before drifting back into confusion.

Four months later she was finally able to overcome her fears of the bike, Mother had always told her, “if you fall, get back up again or else you’ll stay on the ground forever”. So she did, she fixed her bike, and rode it again as soon as she was able to use her body freely once again; unfortunately still leaving her till today with weak knees.

At age 16 her elder brother decided to buy a small bike to learn on, so he got a Yamaha TDR 150cc, which his younger sister was able to use later to teach friends how to drive.

By age 21, she bought her first big bike, fully built and unused, it was a Suzuki 200 Djebel Cruiser; now of course she had to meddle around in it so she removed heavy useless parts that don’t need to be used on the Cedar’s off-road, and kept driving it till her 24th birthday.

That little girl was me.

Today I have already sold the Suzuki as well as the TDR; I doubt I’ll have the guts to get rid of my baby the Honda XR80R, the fact that I had been fixing the rear suspension at the time of the accident saved my life, it threw me off in the air instead of crashing face-first into the car.

Now planning to buy with the amount collected my dream bike: the KTM enduro1, 125cc.

– End of story-

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.

T.

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My motorcycle diaries -2-

Part 2: The thrill:

Mother’s office was developing into a stable company, so she decided to hire a runner boy. I.H (let’s call him Bob) fit the job perfectly, coming from a small family from the south, and being the only male in the family, it was up to him to keep the household going.

Bob started working at Mother’s office at the young age of 17, running errands for the office, sending mails and making sure everything was in order.
He soon became “l’homme a tout faire” (the guy whose job isn’t specific to one chore, but caring for the office as well as helping Mother out in the household), taking the kids to their doctors appointments when the parents were too busy keeping their businesses running.

Bob had a motocross; the four siblings would ride behind him to skip traffic jams, making sure they got to school or their appointments on time, but always taking one at a time.

But Bob was also crazy; he saw the streets of Beirut like an off-road trail, cars as bushes and wild animals, pavement jumps as rocks, and pedestrians as trees. He would swerve in between them as if trying to win a race against his opponents, being the other bikers, and sometimes cars.

The youngest daughter of Father loved riding behind Bob; never afraid, never complaining, but with pure awesome ecstasy running through her veins. Her passion for motorcycles kept growing inside her, feeding her bloodstream, compiling in her brain. She was becoming an addict at the age of 8.

Yet no one paid much attention to what was happening once again, Father kept going to work for long periods of time while Mother was juggling her business with home keeping. The little girl was her siblings’ toy. When you look at a young girl in Lebanon, even watching her passions explode over mechanics such as motorcycles, you never worry or tend to think maybe this is what she wants; why? Because she’s a child, and a girl, it’s as simple as that.

She unfortunately doesn’t recall much of the feelings and ideas that were going through her brain during those first two parts, she was too young to recall much anyways, but she clearly remembers a haunting fascination that can be seen her my collections of small bikes (thanks to kinder surprise) and a lego bike she built at the age of 9.

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Part two ended abruptly with a new-found project: her aunt’s motocross that had been stolen during the war was finally returned to its owners; in very bad shape, but still partly standing. Her aunt not being able to drive anymore due to an injury was forced to let it go, and leave it to her sister’s bidding, which made it end up in the little girl’s arms with the phrase: “you’re obsessed with taking things apart and rebuilding them, you fix it and it’s yours”.

And so the hardship began!

– End of part two –

T.

My motorcycle diaries -1-

Here is a simple story that shows a young girl’s growing obsession toward a beautiful mechanic: motorcycles.

Part 1: Discovering motorcycles:

Since before being born Father had a motorbike that he used to use to go to work, leisure, and short trips around the country. It was his means of travel, and his love.
Father has four children, by the time the youngest was 4 years old, he would take all four of them with him for rides around the city, it was a time of thrilling adventures, a year after the Lebanese civil war ended on 13th October 1990.

Before that time father would only use it for work, to be able to reach his office without trouble from car-blocks, burning tires and closed/blocked roads, and generate a regular income to his household, making sure they were always fully equipped with food, shelter and medicinal equipment.

His motorcycle had become a mean of safe travel. Until the war ended when he started enjoying the ride more for what it is than just a mean to an end. So he used to take his kids all riding with him; His eldest daughter right behind him with his eldest son (stronger) holding on to both from behind. His younger son right in front of him and his youngest daughter in the front, grabbing on to the steering like a child tied in a safety chair.

Having the front row view, the wind lashing, the whole opened panorama of roads in front of her; her obsession started developing, her need for adrenaline started pumping; but she was just a child, a four year old little girl being carried around, laughing at the world. Little did she know what was growing in her brain.

Unfortunately soon after, Father had an accident with a car crashing into him from behind, destroying the bike to pieces but safeguarding his life. So his wife enquired and begged him to give up his passion for bikes, now that the war is over and roads have been opened, he could switch and only drive cars. Which he agreed to, for the safety of his life, and that of his children.

But Father kept on watching bike shows on TV, little did he know that his youngest toddler was watching with him in amazement, eyes sparkling and imagination on full speed.

This was how she discovered the amazing world of motocross bikers, the thrill of the adrenaline, and this is when she started having a passion for the tests ahead.

– End of part one-

T.

I also like to live dangerously!

You always hear of adrenaline junkies (including myself) going off routine to find the thrill of danger and add it to their daily life. I believe I have found the ultimate day-to-day way of getting your dose of adrenaline without going off track in your habits.

Try driving in Lebanon!

To drive in this country you need to have certain traits or else I doubt you’ll survive:
– At least the patience of a hundred men.
– The attention to details of fifty OCD people.
– Never trust other cars, trucks, busses, or motorcyclists.
– Always make sure your eye-sight covers even small areas between parked cars.
– Quick and accurate reaction skills.
– Always full attention on the road as well as your surroundings.

You’ll probably think this is too much (but trust me it’s still not enough) just to be able to drive in a country where street lights exist and cops are present; unfortunately every time I head to work, home or anywhere else, I get a dose of adrenaline, even in traffic (more like especially sometimes).

So why the patience of a hundred men? You’ll have people crossing the road randomly, expecting you to stop your full speed, even on highways, even in the dead of night (yes yes). So you being a self righteous person you are will stop, slow down, and make sure you don’t run them over. You also get your daily dummies (it’s not entirely their fault, I’m not sure they are aware) that decide to cross the road as soon as your light turns green. FYI lights include pedestrians too!

Why the attention to detail of 50 OCD people? That’s easy, make sure no one is wavering around while driving, and make sure that no cars are parked sideways; the person in front of you might not have tail-lights that work, or decide to stop suddenly without giving directions.
For some reason the Lebanese crowd doesn’t believe in the use of a turn signal before switching lanes or turning either side.  My father’s favorite joke to that is: “my light signal is on because I’m gonna make a turn, not because I think I’m a Christmas tree!”; people around here tend to ignore that sometimes. Or you have the case where they will put the signal on 1 second before turning: that’s not the way it works! But they still expect you to stop and make way for them, even on highways.

Never trust others: I think this part is obvious, not everyone has the same driving ethics and skills as you, not everyone is focused on their driving either (messaging, calling, kissing their significant other, too drunk or high, reading a book – believe it!- or having a deep conversation with someone else in the car. You even find those who put their toddlers on their lap to “teach them how to drive”).
This morning for example I was driving behind this motorcyclist that suddenly decided to sneeze then make a U-turn in the middle of a 3 line road; I had to stop fast, to make sure not to hit him, as well as make sure I don’t stop too fast so the driver behind me doesn’t crash into me (they might be still asleep, unfocused or any of the previously mentioned above -6 am, I kind-of understand it).

Over-seeing gaps between parked cars, if I try to recall the number of times I’ve had to stop dead because of children peeking out from between those cars, people deciding to suddenly cross, and/or people moving backwards into the street in full conversation without looking I believe I would’ve probably killed more than 100 people in my life till now (and I’m only 25 so that’s quite a lot).
Pedestrians in Lebanon tend to forget that we drivers own the road most of the times, and it is their job to keep off of it; even when I’m a pedestrian I make sure I keep off the car lanes; unfortunately, it is sometimes impossible, seeing that people tend to park their cars on the pavement as well as motorcyclists driving on it; so moving to the car lane is sometimes the only way you’ll be able to get through (though that doesn’t mean that you have the right to walk in the middle of the street and stop traffic altogether!).

Quick and accurate reaction skills, well I think the reasons for that are quite obvious. With all the action happening on the Lebanese roads you’ll need them to make sure you get home safely, survive many heart attacks, and make sure you don’t leave bloody trails behind you.

Finally your attention will need to be fully focused on the road. All of it, at every second, even in traffic when you have that woman that decides to push her baby stroller out of the curb into the street and you barely get time to notice it before swerving away but still making sure you don’t crash into the car next to you.
You need to make sure the person driving behind you is attentive to your driving not messaging so he’ll have time to stop before crashing into you.
And of course the surrounding cars need to all be in your point of view; why? Simple: heading home from work a couple of days ago I was on the leftmost lane, behind a line of cars, all going 70 km/h; when I see in my rear-view mirror a car speeding behind me about to cross me from the right side. I usually don’t mind that but we were getting to the end of the tunnel where another lane enters the right one with no clear view. So of course a cab driver sneaked in just as the wild golf was next to me, causing him to swerve in my direction (without bothering to slow down I must add) having me swerve towards the wall in between nearly crashing into it, while hitting the breaks.
Guy’s reaction? Swearing at me for not stopping and letting him through, cab driver’s reaction? Ignorance is bliss and kept strolling away, my reaction? Minor heart attack with a 10 minute break before full recovery. Those people are the scariest in my experience, so always, always, under any circumstances, keep an eye out for wild drivers surrounding you, you never know what they might do and how they will react to be able to get there 1 minute earlier.

We Lebanese do not have a notion of patience, as well as we tend to always be in a hurry (why? I don’t know, we just always are).

This makes up altogether for a fun and adrenaline junky exciting game to go through in our everyday life.
So dear fans of adrenaline, if you are able to drive in Lebanon without getting killed, you’ll get your adrenaline dose, lots of action and adventure, while doing everyday chores.

Who’s in for a trial?

T.

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