Born-again R5K members offer post-Covid lockdown riding advice

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Born-again bikers have offered fellow members of MCN’s #ride5000miles group handy hints and tips for getting their bikes back out following a winter lay-up lengthened by lockdown three.

With the weather deteriorating before Christmas and current Covid-19 lockdown guidance preventing all but essential travel, most of us are yet to kick off our 2021 distance campaigns, with plenty of folk not turning a wheel since last year.

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"Don’t be coming out the driveway automatically going for glory," says Paul O’Hara, 36, who came back from a six-year lay-off in 2020, following a crash in September 2014. "Don’t be going too fast because it seems like the roads are going to be even more hectic. Just take it easy."

On top of going steady, the Glasgow rider also pointed out: "There’s going to be so many more people doing these staycations in Britain, so I think you’ll find a lot of the tourist roads are going to be busier."

Simon Hunt says the confidence will come back with time

Hertfordshire Blood Biker, John McCombe came back to bikes after a 17-year absence in 2001. Pre-Covid, he was covering 10,000 miles a year on his own bike, plus another 10,000 as a volunteer and is urging others to ease back into it gently as lockdowns lift.

"On that first ride, don’t give it a big fist full – it’s not worth it," the 73-year-old said. "Modern bikes have all these electronic controls to look after you, but if you want to bin it, you can still bin it."

The advanced rider continued: "Check your bike over, too. That’s obvious, but people don’t do it. Make sure it’s in good order and when you go out, for god’s sake take it easy!"

Elsewhere, retired BMW R1250RT rider, Simon Hunt, from Durham, left biking in 1995 to look after his young family, before returning around 14 years later. On top of planning his own trips to the Lake District and Scotland for later this year, he’s now urging others to start their season gently.

"You never forget how to ride a bike, but you just need to go out there and practice," Simon said. "Just take your time and the confidence will return."


Back in the saddle: Born-again biker commits to #ride5000miles challenge

First published on June 22, 2020 by Dan Sutherland

Chris purchased his Lexmoto Ranger in 2019

After a 30-year break from biking, speedway action prompted a Halifax-based member of #ride5000miles to take to the road on two wheels once more.

Chris Copley, 51, stopped riding at 20 after passing his driving test, but after going to a few speedway races, decided to do his CBT last November.

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"When I was a youngster and moved to King’s Lynn, I started going to the speedway," the HR worker told MCN. "I got back into it a couple of years ago and that gave me the itch."

Riding his mum’s 50cc Honda step-thru at 17, before graduating to a larger, faster 100cc Honda around six weeks later, early biking experiences were all about getting from A-to-B, with no other form of transport available. But these days Chris says he now rides simply for the love of two wheels.

Chris rode a 100cc Honda the first time round

"This time it’s all about having fun and enjoying the process of riding," he added.

Despite around 30 years of driving experience, Chris admits his CBT was "a huge eye-opener" and highlighted a number of things he had been continuously getting wrong on a bike during his first stint.

"Every single aspect I was doing as a youngster, was completely wrong! With the CBT, I’m so much more confident and capable than when I was as a young 'un," Chris explained. "I’m now in touch with an instructor who’s helping me prepare for my Module One test."

Chris riding his Lexmoto Ranger - credit: Spike Lee Photography

With the CBT completed, Chris purchased a Lexmoto Ranger 125 in December 2019 and, despite the Covid-19 lockdown period, has since gone on to rack up 700 miles towards his #R5K challenge total for the year.

He added: "Psychologically, it’s almost like meditation. Every time I go out, I’m learning something new and getting better," he continued. "I think it’s made me a better car driver as well because I’m observing a lot more."

That's one way to transport a Lexmoto Ranger!

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade