Catch the Ride – Kawasaki GPZ900R

Late September evenings are a rich mixture of burnt skies, crispy leaves, and the aroma of those few chimneys still in use. It’s a beautiful time for a ride, even if cold tarmac and road debris plays on the mind. Especially as a new rider.
The A606 is a smooth road, though, and with plenty of visibility. There’s really no excuse to not overtake this lorry then. Drop a couple cogs and that engine lights up, my arms tense and I lean into a healthy portion of what four carbs can supply. Bloody hell. Watch your line on the way in. An all too brief, sharp accelerative wail shifts – gradually now – into a naughty popping and warbling of the exhaust on the overrun. Breathe.

Carry on. Into sixth. Nice modern feature that, it is a modern bike after all, even if from the 80s. GPZ900R sits proudly on the side, neatly set next to my boots. Now sat behind a car keeping a tolerable pace. Barely a flicker in my mirror and another bike zips into the space between us. Woah, okay mate. And then off again, like a sugar frenzied wasp.

I almost apologize to the bike, knowing that we could be right there with him if not for me. Ooh, a hill climb. And a lorry. Yes, a good thing. I line up the car and lorry up together and, third gear, 6k, open the taps. Letting out a herculean, vicious scream, the 16 valve monster sitting beneath me hurtles itself towards an 11k top end. I haven’t even looked at the speed. I think I’ve even overshot my place back on the left.

We take a step back, with fourth gear and a calm, rhythmic leaning to and fro up this windy hill, simply enjoying the feel of shifting weight and tuneful fizzing of its 4 cylinders toying with different revs. Feed it in, ease it off. That’s the key. Plan your lines, think about your braking, time the power, time it all.

We turn into a Rutland water parking spot just as the September sun is casting a lustrous pink over the glossy surface. The bike throbs at its lower reaches and glides over the masses of crimson, sienna, leaves in every red and brown you can imagine. Parked up, I take the photo that’ll remind me of this ride. It’s all about timing. Minutes later the sun dips further and the scene is gone.

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