I stood up on the footpegs of the brand new Aprillia RS660 I had borrowed for the bank holiday weekend. Both tyres were squirming on the muck and gravel that was beneath me, each wanting to slide in a different direction as I rode over potholes down a country lane in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
Travelling further up an Irish farmers lane, the camber of the road was falling steeply away on both sides. Being a slightly vertically challenged person, I am acutely aware of road camber at all times, owing to the fact that a sudden stop would certainly end in both myself and the bike falling into a ditch full of nettles.
I summoned every small ounce of skill I had acquired from riding trials motorbikes, and kept a slow and controlled speed on the uneven terrain. My worst fear then came to light as a tractor appeared at the top of the lane, and there wasn’t enough space to pass by it safely.
Thankfully a gate at the entrance to a field full of curious cows gave me space enough to dismount the Aprilia, and manoeuvre it safely to the side of the road, out of the oncoming tractors path. It was at this point in my journey I decided that going further on a borrowed bike wasn’t the wisest of choices.
I was riding with two friends for the day. Barry, who was on a very capable Africa Twin, and Aoife, who was on a less forgiving GSXR600. My Aprilia was handling itself as well as could be expected given the circumstances I was subjecting it to, but we made the decision to turn back, and head for more forgiving roads through the Slieve Bloom mountains.
We had no sat nav, and no idea where we were going, but with all three bikes full of fuel, we also had no worries. Riding through towns in the midlands of Ireland, I was enjoying every minute of the freedom I was being afforded. We stopped for a brief break at the Rock of Dunamase, just on time for the heavens to open.
I had learned to bring a change of helmet visor with me, since the night before I had been caught out with a dark visor as the sun set, making visibility disappear quite quickly. I had not however, learned to pack my waterproof kit, so we took shelter under some trees and waited for the heavy shower to pass. Riding bikes on the roads it seems, takes a lot of small lessons to be learned the hard way.
After our stop at the Dunamase Castle, we headed back into the nearest town, which had the usual three pubs and one corner shop available for refreshments. We stepped inside the doors of the nearest pub, with all chat immediately stopping as each of the twelve occupants turned to stare at the strangers in bike gear who had just entered their territory.
We reversed out just as quickly and decided the almost certainly stale coffee in the corner shop would do us just fine for now. Commencing our journey again we found some amazing roads with all of the twists and turns you could want. Finally I could open up the power of the 660 twin and use it properly. It was an absolute weapon of a machine, with all of the acceleration you could possibly need, and turning precision which allowed me to use all of the road available to me. I was having a blast.
We stopped for some photos for Instagram along the way, and took in some amazing views.
Time was getting away from us by this stage, and we parted ways as myself and Aoife headed back for Dublin while Barry headed off towards his homeland of Cork. No doubt he was starting to get itchy from being outside his county borders for so long at that stage.
It was dark by the time I got home, and I was tired after a long day. However the dirt of the bike was really bothering me, so I hauled out my Karcher powerwasher and using the softer settings on the machine, gave the Aprilia a good wash. Dirty bikes are something I can’t stick. So while I got a bit of a slagging for being ‘ocd’ about the cleaning of it, it was worth it when it was once again shining when it went back into the garage.
Riding on the roads is something I haven’t really missed in the last ten years, but I am slowly falling in love with it all over again. While riding through traffic and commuting aren’t what I’m after, I can’t deny the draw of the open Irish roads, of which there are plenty.
I had asked to borrow a bike I had wanted to try out for a potential racing purchase, and in the end I got a day of adventures and laughs with friends. Next time, I’ll have my waterproofs with me, and we might plan it slightly better to avoid heavy farm machinery as much as possible.
I’m glad its coming into winter now, which will put a pause on any impulsive road bike purchases I might have otherwise made. With so much selection these days, I’ll be having a good look at what’s on display at EICMA and the NEC bike show, but the Aprilia will definitely be high up on my wishlist.
As always, stay kind.