7:30 on a Sunday? Sorry, does not compute. But my phone is binging cheerfully at me, the little sod, a cat is asleep on my head, beloved is a whiffling heap under the duvet and I’m struggling with the concept of needing to be vaguely functional in the next twenty minutes and on the bike in a hour. The intervening time is spent knocking up bacon butties and coffee for self and Fiona, the proprietor of the famed Green Welly Stop, as she drops in en route to Tulliallan for today’s Scottish IAM Motorcycle Forum meeting. I’m worried though: TGW does totally excellent coffee and I need to ensure I’m on decent form to repay the hospitality.
I’ve mentioned before that I live next to one of THE great biking roads, the A84 from Callander to Killin. That’s all of 20 miles of fast, wide sweeping bends that every so often turn into narrow, bumpy, twisty complexes that test machine set-up and rider anticipation, skill and basic sense. And far too bloody many people are failing that test: we’ve just had what (I think) is the third biking fatality of the year — and all of these on the mere eight miles between Callander and Strathyre, particularly through the twisties of the Falls of Leny, just North of Kilmahog and at the notorious “Doctor’s Bend” a couple of miles further North.
The consequences of this aren’t just limited to the motorcyclist and his or her (almost always ‘his’) family and friends but affect the local community: firstly, this is the only road South from here (without a 50-mile detour), so when it’s closed for most of a day it has a real local impact. Secondly, and mostly importantly, people here are genuinely upset about the sheer bloody waste of life that’s going — I haven’t spoken to a single person who’s anti-motorcycling in any way, but to many who are affected by the knowledge that another life has been needlessly lost on our doorstep and who genuinely feel the sense of lost humanity. While writing this blog entry, I’ve been approached by several friends and neighbours, each asking me if there’s anything at all I can do to raise awareness of the specific risks of this road. So here it is.