My bike & I

 

Rides: an Aprilia Rally Raid and a GSXR 600 race bike

Why these machines? The Aprilia is as ugly as sin and has a weight problem but is very pleasant company, especially on long journeys. I need a bike that can do 30k miles annually, that is comfortable with enough poke for safe overtakes and has a good tank range. The GSXR is simply a weapon.

Why did you take to two wheels? Speed, as T.E Lawrence (of Arabia) said, 'Speed is the second greatest longing of our nature'. You can go as fast as you want on public roads but you will run into several obstacles, mainly cars, walls, houses, etc. Racing is far safer. Driving fast and irresponsibly on the road just drives another nail into the coffin of motorcycling. If you have something to prove, do it on the track.

Did you take any rider training? No, but I had tons of practice falling out of and off things long before I got on bikes. Motorbikes provided me with the perfect platform to refine and perfect my techniques. I have had loads of training since though. I'm a DIAmond Examiner, I have a RoSPA Diploma, am an IRTA member, a Fingal Star Rider Local Training Officer, and ex-Hibernian Ignition Trainer. I am 22 years instructing and examining. Much to my disappointment, I still don't know it all, but I know this is achievable because there are folk who do know it all.

What does your insurance cost? Around €400.

Have you ever had any accidents? I've been 27 years road riding, seven years track and five years road racing, and it has taken its toll on me. A metal plate from my arm is my key ring. I have broken and ruptured most of my vital components at some stage.

Cars are like people; if they are going to hit you they send out all the signs so it's up to you to pay attention. Get properly trained to learn the signs. I recommend bikers check out the National Safety Council's (NSC) website for a list of quality trainers.

Do you follow road racing? Yep, I raced twice in the Isle of Man. Averaged 102mph last year in the Senior and was the fastest rider through Sarah's Cottage in 2003. Unfortunately the bike was about twenty feet behind me at the time. I think Kells Road Race is the best-organised and safest road race.

What you do think is the bond that bikers share? I don't know. I was going to ask some of the hundreds of motorcyclists who passed us on the way to the Brit GP some years ago after my mate broke down near Chester, but none of them stopped.

Are there any issues you think the Minister for Transport should address for bikers? He could arrange for the road traffic regulations to be enforced and make the bike test more realistic.

Any tips for survival on two wheels? Buy a car! If you want to know where the responsibility for motorcycle safety ultimately lies, check out the bathroom mirror.

If you won the lottery what would be your dream bike? One that stays upright in ice and snow and keeps your hands warm. Alternatively, Freddie Spencer's Daytona winning CB900.

- Patricia Weston