And with one swift kick, well maybe two, but for the sake of romanticism let’s say one and Rudolf regains a steady and strong sinus rhythm, of 1500rpm.
I ascend the four flights of steps up to my apartment before the engine has chance to warm up, grab my helmet, take a joyous celebratory photo and then run back down like a six year old boy who has 50p to spend on sweets and must spend it ASAP. In fact, I only have about ten minutes before it will start to get dark.
I ease Rudolf out of the apartment’s car park on to the road, quickly remembering how to ride, sort of, and then off towards the park until reaching the dreaded four way junction (with no rights of way), edging closer in to the convoluting traffic only to realise the gear shifter is not there, it was a second ago. I push the bike to the roadside and retrieve the shifter a few hundred metres back. Then I run back to the apartment, grab a spanner and re-fit it, remembering this time to actually tighten the holding nut.
At the park, I walk the hiking path and contemplate how nice it would be to ride the bike on the leafy trail and so seeing no people (a rarity) I go back to the bike and do just that, thrashing it over the slippery leaves as much as one can thrash a 1-2-5 in the dark. It makes me realise how good a rider I had become through Africa, or at least how bad I have become without rough road practise.
At the weekend I ride out towards a intriguing mountainous area beckoning me on my map, maybe some good riding? I don’t make it though as I am distracted when I see at the roadside: a white van emblazoned with KTM Motorcycle stickers, parked near a tank training area. After a few moments thought as I coast to a crawl I decide to go back and say hello.
I find three chaps, one of whom I am informed is the motocross enduro champion. Their english is limited and after mocking my bike (them not me) I ask them if they wouldn’t mind me riding on the training area, too.
“On that! It is very small!” he says as he kicks his thunderous engine to life and gives it a few sharp stabs of throttle. I wipe the dribble from my envious face and reply “Umm, yeah, I’ll try and keep out of your way. If you don’t mind?”
“No problem, sorry….englishy is small.”
“Hanguel-mal VERY jageum!” (My Korean is VERY small!) I say, squinting through a tiny gap between my own forefinger and thumb, and he laughs.
He drags his own bike from the stand – motocross bikes rely on a stool like stand having no fixed stand of their own – throws a leg over the bike and stands on the pegs and without a helmet he then tears off through the gateway into the slippy wet mud. I decide there and then that one day I will swing my leg over a KTM 450SX but am happy to turn around to see the dependable red fendered Rudolf, ready to go.
I ride up towards the gateway and think about emanating the champ’s style, but think it best to not be cocky and just slip through seated, off to explore.
I take Rudy back home and start stripping the front end which is bent from a big fall in South Africa and to inspect the steering bearings, which I find are in reasonable condition, clean and greased but the bearing races have deep grooves from miles of rough roads and hard bottoming out hits to the front suspension. Next will be the rear end. (Thanks again to Danny and the staff at http://www.YSK.co.kr)
School starts again and I can’t wait to see the kids, though I do wish I could talk more with them. I work with my new co-teacher, who is working hard and learning fast. But now I feel that the onus is perhaps more on me than it has been up until now, and I worry that the lessons are bad, that the children aren’t learning or that they are bored. That said, I notice quiet students speaking up for a change, and even a rapturous applause after one child answers a question (for the first time ever) and gets it correct! The class went bonkers, whilst us teachers looked on a gasp.
I’ve already started learning Latin Spanish in preparation for South America, five months to go…every now and then I start to feel the butterfly’s…