Sometimes you get a rush of blood to the head and want to try something completely different. Trying new stuff on holidays works well for me. Last year it was the short-lived experiment of growing a beard (I ended up looking like Jedwards’ Granddad). This year, it was renting a motorbike.
Winnipeg Experience: The last time I had access to a big motorbike was in Canada. I was 18, exactly 38 years ago, and I drove around for a month without incident. I had another motorbike in Ireland for a couple of years after that before graduating to a car. But surely I would remember how to manage it. It’s like riding a bike, right? And I was only ever involved in 3 accidents… The logic was impeccable. You have to keep pushing the edge of the envelope. Otherwise, you might be getting ‘set in your ways’!
Instant Reaction: My buddy Maurice offered a mild opinion on this adventure, framed as follows: “You f*****g gobshite”. He thought it was completely nuts because of (a) Portuguese roads (b) Portuguese drivers (c) the length of time since I was within 100 yards of a motorbike. I took all the feedback on board, thought about it seriously for 12.2 seconds, then went on the net and booked a Honda Rebel 250 cc bike (see photo) for a week. What could possibly go wrong?
Cometh the Hour: It was late July. 34 degrees Centigrade. I was dressed in a tracksuit and melting with the heat, standing nervously outside a bike rental shop in Albuifeira – about 15 miles from where we were staying. The mission was as follows. Pick up the bike and drive along the EN-125 (busiest road in the Algarve) to ‘prove’ that I was not over the hill. A combination of perspiration and suntan oil was running down my face, stinging my eyes. But, I couldn’t possibly quit now. Not after telling Linda and the kids. Cool dad, eh? And, most importantly, to prove Maurice wrong. There was no way I was wimping out. So, I figured out how the gears worked (1 down, 5 up) and drove out along the main road. Slowly. The traffic jam behind me, stretched back up to near Lisbon! By the time I eventually got to where we were staying, I’d made an executive decision. Turn around and bring it back. Admit defeat. I’m past the motorbike stage in my life.
The Moral: Sometimes you make a wrong call. For a variety of good or bad reasons. But you know yourself that’s it’s a bad call. A job that hasn’t worked out. A relationship that’s soured. A house that really does not suit your family. Whatever. What you need to do is fix it. Even if it means that you look stupid. You know it’s right. Now, not all mistakes are as easy to fix as bringing back that motorbike. But all mistakes have to be confronted. Don’t let your ego stop you from making the right call.
Post Script: Maurice’s’ response: “I told you that you were too old for that”. Ouch!