Jimarillo columns from TWO magazine

Jimarillo. Mysterious. Deep. Now in rehab? Probably.


August 2001

Imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning last week. In itself a remarkable enough tale, but after squinting out of the small window that decorates the modest apartment I occupy, (an apartment perched precariously above a fully-operational bordello) I witnessed something very special - an act of nature, beautiful in all its anachronistic glory.

It must have been 7 o'clock in the morning and the floor had already begun shaking to the unmistakable pounding of loose headboards and the determined squeaking of dirty bedsprings from down below. This, as always, was accompanied by the fleshy, rhythmic slapping of battered pink orbs as the houseband struck up another early morning favourite.

However, there was an orb of a far different and more benign nature blazing down on the  streets of West Soho. It wasn't until I saw this old fella waddling past below that I realised this was the real deal.

As his lobster-hued builder's arse writhed and squirmed, trying to fight its way out of his V-necked trousers, I saw he was sweating - hard. Like a paedophile on a bouncy castle hard. Summer is here!

My first attempt to get out and enjoy nature's spoils involved riding to a trendy boozer across town, deep in Robbie Williams country. I locked my door, got all the way down seven flights of stairs, locked the outside door and then realised that I didn't have a helmet. Shit. Never mind I thought - it's summer, the sun is shining, I feel happy - even the police are smiling. Plus, with my consanguine origin and the deliberate use of ethnic-looking headgear I can always claim special dispensation on religious grounds. Naturally I was stopped by the police barely 50 metres from my front door and, of course, I greeted the officers at large with a heart-felt "Shalom!"

This lead me to think about how pathetic the whole crash helmet situation really is, though. Why do we need helmet laws? Well, all law is devised to account for the lowest common denominator, not for intelligent, free-thinking adults. Flipmode: would anyone out there like to be forced to wear leathers?

Perhaps you wear full racing leathers to go to the shops anyway. If not, why not? After all it has been statistically proven that most accidents happen within five minutes' ride of your home. So logic would suggest this as the sensible course of action. However, most of us would rather calculate the risk and then come to our own decision. Norick Abe probably daren't get out of the bath without his Shoei on.

The helmet law is seen as a civil rights issue because it prevents free-thinking individuals from making an informed, deliberate choice. We are all aware that your head is better protected with a lid - that's never been in question - it's just a fact. But because I'm a Sikh does that make it right for me to flout the law on religious grounds, thereby effectively having more free choice than everyone else? On the other hand, could it suggest that the law actually regards me as less important and doesn't care about my fate?

The main argument against riding al fresco - that it's dangerous because you may crash -  is an easy diversion. When I started riding I crashed a bit. Well, quite a bit actually. Oh, fuck it - I have probably crashed more bikes than any one person will ever own in a lifetime, but it taught me something. It showed me how crashes happen (that's wisdom, eh?) and made me realise that accidents aren't necessarily unavoidable. If you don't feel confident that you can't go out without T-boning a Hyundai Coupe then it's probably best to stay at home.

I have (I cannot deny it) destroyed FireBlades, Triumphs and Ducatis all the way from St Tropez to Newcastle and many points in between, often without gloves, sometimes without a hat and occasionally without shoes and socks. I must admit that I decided to draw the line at no shoes because, after being stopped by the local Gendarmes for pulling a third gear wheelie away from Club Cinquant-Cinq in St. Tropez in only my underpants and a T-shirt, I had to dismount and approach the police. Because the tarmac was so damn hot I also had to scream loudly and jump back on the bike and receive my bollocking nursing a burnt toe. Now that's stupid.

You see, in the South of France you can (sort of) ride without a helmet. The police trust that, so long as you actually have some form of head protection with you, the intention to wear it is there. Of course, how and when you wear it is up to you. If you want to speed down the motorway and peel your cap when you bin it at 140mph that's up to you - it's called choice. Our boys in blue don't actually give a shit whether you die or not, they just don't want to scrape your scrambled bonce innards off the ground themselves. Which in itself is a fair call, I suppose.

In Naples you're supposed to wear a lid but nobody does. They have special plain clothes crack squads who will track you down, book you, fine you on the spot and then ride off - annoyingly - without helmets. And in Columbia it's actually illegal to wear a crash helmet unless you're on the motorway. To be fair though, the reasoning is slightly more complex. The problem is that Pablo Escobar's henchmen started a trend of performing 'hits' riding motorcycles. They'd screech into busy areas and shoot up motherfuckers whilst wearing full-face crash helmets so as to disguise their true identities. Thus, these days in a country who's GDP is almost entirely reliant on cocaine, you are likely to get the ass torn out of ya just for wearing a BS-stamped lid. That's irony for you.

Anyway, helmet or not, you all know as well as I do that by the time you even attempt to turn your eyelids inside out at 120mph the summer will be long gone. So, as the saying goes, make haste while the sun shines...

Stay Hungry

August 2001

Imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning last week. In itself a remarkable enough tale, but after squinting out of the small window that decorates the modest apartment I occupy, (an apartment perched precariously above a fully-operational bordello) I witnessed something very special - an act of nature, beautiful in all its anachronistic glory.

It must have been 7 o'clock in the morning and the floor had already begun shaking to the unmistakable pounding of loose headboards and the determined squeaking of dirty bedsprings from down below. This, as always, was accompanied by the fleshy, rhythmic slapping of battered pink orbs as the houseband struck up another early morning favourite.

However, there was an orb of a far different and more benign nature blazing down on the  streets of West Soho. It wasn't until I saw this old fella waddling past below that I realised this was the real deal.

As his lobster-hued builder's arse writhed and squirmed, trying to fight its way out of his V-necked trousers, I saw he was sweating - hard. Like a paedophile on a bouncy castle hard. Summer is here!

My first attempt to get out and enjoy nature's spoils involved riding to a trendy boozer across town, deep in Robbie Williams country. I locked my door, got all the way down seven flights of stairs, locked the outside door and then realised that I didn't have a helmet. Shit. Never mind I thought - it's summer, the sun is shining, I feel happy - even the police are smiling. Plus, with my consanguine origin and the deliberate use of ethnic-looking headgear I can always claim special dispensation on religious grounds. Naturally I was stopped by the police barely 50 metres from my front door and, of course, I greeted the officers at large with a heart-felt "Shalom!"

This lead me to think about how pathetic the whole crash helmet situation really is, though. Why do we need helmet laws? Well, all law is devised to account for the lowest common denominator, not for intelligent, free-thinking adults. Flipmode: would anyone out there like to be forced to wear leathers?

Perhaps you wear full racing leathers to go to the shops anyway. If not, why not? After all it has been statistically proven that most accidents happen within five minutes' ride of your home. So logic would suggest this as the sensible course of action. However, most of us would rather calculate the risk and then come to our own decision. Norick Abe probably daren't get out of the bath without his Shoei on.

The helmet law is seen as a civil rights issue because it prevents free-thinking individuals from making an informed, deliberate choice. We are all aware that your head is better protected with a lid - that's never been in question - it's just a fact. But because I'm a Sikh does that make it right for me to flout the law on religious grounds, thereby effectively having more free choice than everyone else? On the other hand, could it suggest that the law actually regards me as less important and doesn't care about my fate?

The main argument against riding al fresco - that it's dangerous because you may crash -  is an easy diversion. When I started riding I crashed a bit. Well, quite a bit actually. Oh, fuck it - I have probably crashed more bikes than any one person will ever own in a lifetime, but it taught me something. It showed me how crashes happen (that's wisdom, eh?) and made me realise that accidents aren't necessarily unavoidable. If you don't feel confident that you can't go out without T-boning a Hyundai Coupe then it's probably best to stay at home.

I have (I cannot deny it) destroyed FireBlades, Triumphs and Ducatis all the way from St Tropez to Newcastle and many points in between, often without gloves, sometimes without a hat and occasionally without shoes and socks. I must admit that I decided to draw the line at no shoes because, after being stopped by the local Gendarmes for pulling a third gear wheelie away from Club Cinquant-Cinq in St. Tropez in only my underpants and a T-shirt, I had to dismount and approach the police. Because the tarmac was so damn hot I also had to scream loudly and jump back on the bike and receive my bollocking nursing a burnt toe. Now that's stupid.

You see, in the South of France you can (sort of) ride without a helmet. The police trust that, so long as you actually have some form of head protection with you, the intention to wear it is there. Of course, how and when you wear it is up to you. If you want to speed down the motorway and peel your cap when you bin it at 140mph that's up to you - it's called choice. Our boys in blue don't actually give a shit whether you die or not, they just don't want to scrape your scrambled bonce innards off the ground themselves. Which in itself is a fair call, I suppose.

In Naples you're supposed to wear a lid but nobody does. They have special plain clothes crack squads who will track you down, book you, fine you on the spot and then ride off - annoyingly - without helmets. And in Columbia it's actually illegal to wear a crash helmet unless you're on the motorway. To be fair though, the reasoning is slightly more complex. The problem is that Pablo Escobar's henchmen started a trend of performing 'hits' riding motorcycles. They'd screech into busy areas and shoot up motherfuckers whilst wearing full-face crash helmets so as to disguise their true identities. Thus, these days in a country who's GDP is almost entirely reliant on cocaine, you are likely to get the ass torn out of ya just for wearing a BS-stamped lid. That's irony for you.

Anyway, helmet or not, you all know as well as I do that by the time you even attempt to turn your eyelids inside out at 120mph the summer will be long gone. So, as the saying goes, make haste while the sun shines...

Stay Hungry

September 2001

If it's rebellion you're after, then what better place to start than with one of the most over-indulged cliches of the 20th century.

An enormous, thundering, stinking slab of greased-up Yankee iron, a black leather jacket partially covered with grime-encrusted, badge-heavy denim, an ambitious complement of facial hair and a stupid name like 'Tiny' or 'Dangerous Bob'.

The motorcycle outlaws or Hell's Angels of sixties America may be a clichŽ, but they do exist and that very existence is strangely relevant, if only partially to us in this, the opening furlong of the 21st century. As legend would have it the Hell's Angels were either named after the 303rd Bomber Squadron or the 11th Airborne paratrooper Division of World War II, depending on whose story you prefer.

The first bona fide motorcycle gangs emanating from 1947 were the tellingly-named Booze Fighters and the Pissed Off Bastards. It was they who kicked off the notorious Hollister riots in a small farming community near Oakland USA - an incident which inspired that seminal Sunday afternoon matinee classic, The Wild One. That film marked the beginning of our own fascination with bi-wheeled deviancy.

And now (at least in our own minds) we are fighting the last riot in the history of social culture - that is the battle of personal liberty. Fighting or taking our own stand depending on our disposition. Either way, riding a motorcycle can be about the only time that many of us actually ever feel in control of our lives.

You see it isn't about discovery anymore. It's about fiercely holding your corner, as an individual and as a citizen - making sure that the dangerously antiseptic, anti-self-expressionist tendencies of governmental policy don't swat us all like flies.

Maybe the reason people who lived through the 1960s go on about it so much was that it was actually a great time to be alive. Honestly. Can you imagine The Rolling Stones or Bobby Womack lip-synching to backing tapes in front of 100,000 people at Party In The Park? Fuck off. I bet your mum and dad never thought that when they actually grew up they would be on camera from almost the moment they woke up until the time they went to bed. I bet they had no idea that there would ever be a time when they'd open envelopes at breakfast informing them of speeding violations over which they had already been convicted and sentenced by a machine, without ever actually having set foot in a court room.

They tell us that youth is fucked and patronize us by saying that most kids need a clique because they feel insecure, but for many, riding a bike is actually an important method of social bonding. For outfits (or in old money, 'chapters') like the Starboyz, Las Vegas Extremes, The Jersey Boyz or the Brooklyn Kings who are puttin' it down on the street, about one of the purest methods of retaining their status as free-thinking human beings is through pushing themselves to the edge, stunting big-arsed Jap plastic on the street.

Stunting becomes the important currency, a currency that defines the individuals and places them, contextually, in their rightful position within their own character-defining social structure. In this respect, a posse whose members pride themselves on acts of absolute control, co-ordination and machine dexterity are little different from skaters, BMXers or any other disciples of the street.

 But we are all individuals and we all love to operate on our own, whether we belong to a clique or not. "To see a lone Hell's Angel screaming through traffic - defying all rules, limits and patterns - is to understand the motorcycle as an instrument of anarchy, a tool of defiance and even a weapon", noted Hunter S. Thompson in his book of the same name, Hell's Angels.

It is actually interesting to see something both the old and new school have in common - the love of technical proficiency. Instead of an oily monkey wrench in the front teeth or a greasy chain to the back of the head we have tricks and stunts such as the Ballerina, the one-handed stoppie and the fender-grabber. The weapons of choice today are the Yamaha R1 and GSX-R1000 as opposed to the 'stripped down' 500lb Harley 74's of yesteryear.

With brief reference to moral code it's only fair to point out that these days it's all about the individual and his responsibility for his own actions. Getting into an altercation with the Angels, on the other hand, will probably have chilling echoes for any readers who have ever been married: "In any disagreement an Angel is always right - to disagree is to be wrong - and to persist in being wrong is tantamount to an open challenge. In the event thereof, it is customary for all attending Angels to stick the boot in."

For an Angel, the most important thing in the world was to deal swift, hard justice - that and pick up some decent fanny. In New York at the moment the most important thing in the world is getting your bike to 12 o' clock - getting it vertical - and then choosing some fine bootylicious ass from the crowd to sit on your pillion tray and act as sexual wheelie ballast.

You see, rebellion is no longer about creating an alternative society and punishing all in your path. To be a card-carrying outcast these days you just have to be able to express yourself in the parlance of our time, have a healthy disrespect for the Nanny State, a penchant for up-ending your Ninja and a romantic notion of the misunderstood outlaw - because that's one thing that has always remained constant. Notoriety is bred from ignorance and 21st century bad boyz love nothing more than to be misunderstood.

Stay Hungry. Jimarillo

October 2001

This month we are going to address the serious issue of motorcycle porn and mechanical Viagra. You may glop yourself raw over 10 motorcycle mags every month, you may have a 996 with booming Termi' exhaust system and plethora of bolt-ons, you may be able to talk about centrifugal force, weight distribution and spring rates - but these things alone do not a bona fide street hero make.

There is a conventional wisdom that suggests to be good at something actually takes dedication, a willingness to learn and some form of innate ability. 500 years ago, Leonardo Da Vinci didn't just buy a pair of Jesus creepers, decide he was going to check out the art thing and then drop The Last Supper - he joined a fraternity of painters at the age of 20 and studied under the great Verrochio. It took twenty seven years of dedicated study and experimentation to attain the skill and sensitivity required to transcend the physical world with his timeless works of art.

Moving on to the 20th Century you begin to see the gulf between the attitude of then and now for what it is. Great art these days is a post-grad course at St. Martins, an unmade bed full of burst condoms, soiled sanitary towels and carefully hardened linen. Art is a cow suspended in formaldehyde, art is Gilbert and George banging one off in the khazi at their pretentious 'Shoxton' loft apartment, then taking a piss and curling off a constipated turd onto the canvas. The result? A wonderful work entitled Blood, Shit, Piss and Sperm, a lot of wasted art materials and a generation once again fed the message that it's okay to be an over-hyped, vacuous fraud. A generation who believe they've a legitimate right to call themselves artists and musicians, but haven't put in the time.

But, this is a media driven age and that alone has geared public consciousness to a point where we possess a collective attention span that would embarrass the average five-year-old child of 100 years ago. We can't be bothered to learn anymore - we just want the end result, the glory, the attention. So, just how does the media view motorcycles at the moment? As we all know they were social anathema at one time but these days even The Sun newspaper are giving away Aprilia Milles like Gary Glitter hands out boiled sweets. Bikes feature in every movie from MI-2 to Tomb Raider and Geri Halliwell even had a Triumph 955i on stage the other week in preference to a backing band.

It would seem that right now motorcycles are the good stuff. So are DJs. They make more money than the musicians who originally wrote and performed the vinyls they carefully cue. They also get paid more red-backs for spinning the platters that matter than bike racers get for spinning rear tyres.

Which rather surprisingly brings me to the, er, point. On the race track, you're in a truly competitive environment and the general idea is that a rider and his team concentrate on finding fractional percentage improvements in every possible area. Hours of intensive labour on engine and chassis improvements, track testing and sweaty sessions punctuated by propositions from muscular gay men in leotards at the gym may give the team only a tiny advantage, but that's all you actually need - ask any Supersport racer how important 0.1 of a second is. On the road however, if you weigh over nine stone it's actually a lot more effective to start drinking Slim-Fast than buy carbon fibre fairings.

So, what of these poor, disillusioned souls who must have a perceived performance advantage on paper and at the watering hole? Those guys who pretend to get their knees down but actually spend hours shaving the corners from their knee sliders and plucking the hairs from the edges of their tyres? Get a few of 'em together and it becomes a regular little nightmare. Eyeing each other's bikes jealously one explains how 'Slick' worked the heads over on his Ducati and supplied the WSB-spec forks and brakes from Carl's bike while the others argue about the infinitesimal differences between their 'race' compound tyres under the mistaken impression that this equals competence. However, because these riders are so into their motorbikes, should I at least respect that dedication, that desire?

Should I respect the fact that they spend hours pretending to expertly tinker with their suspension - mostly on Sundays in full view of the street so all the neighbours can see what experts they are? They apparently invest in huge quantities of wet and dry sandpaper so they can cut through the highly polished, 16 week-old shine that seems to have mysteriously set into their sport compound tyres.

Without getting all existential I'm gonna lay it down for the guilty parties right here. We can't all be Valentino Rossi but we don't have to be. We've just got to be comfortable with ourselves. If you can't ride fast then so what? But hey, if it's that important to your image that people think you're a regular tough-guy then why don't you spend the next few years becoming one? Hone your skills on airfields, at race tracks, on the road, in your living room - whatever it takes. Anyone (theoretically) can be good at anything but if you want to be treated like Carl Fogarty you'll have to put in a similar amount of time and effort.

If you simply can't be fucked then hear this - next time you go out, leave your insecurities at home with those HRC magnesium race wheels. You know, the ones Doohan used at the 1998 Suzuka Eight-Hour race...

By the way, if anyone's interested I actually have an original Gilbert and George for sale - Wanking Foetus Covered In Poo is 6 x 11 on treated chipboard. Offers invited.

Stay Hungry. Jimarillo

November 2001

I love watching Moto GP. It makes my Sunday mornings.

I know exactly how much of the race is left when I switch on the TV thanks to my handy Ken-O-Meter. If Roberts is in 10th I know the programme's about halfway through. However if he's in the Top Five I'll know I've merely missed a few minutes. Far more likely though is that he'll be in 22nd scrabbling tooth and nail to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and I'll be very annoyed that I've missed another vintage round of top dollar, two-wheeled antics.

What Roberts' predicament illustrates is how fine a line there is between the best and the worst at this level of competition. To cross that fine line which divides average from exceptional you need more than just talent - all international bike racers are talented. It's not just bravery either. It seems that to ride any GP bike (besides needing a good three to five years to learn how to control these particular machines) you need to fit the 'Optimum Corporeal Template'. In plain English, you need to be the right size.

Capirossi, Biaggi, McCoy, McWilliams, Nakano - these are all immensely talented riders and they are also proper, half-pint, jockey-sized contenders. But where does that leave those who are more Jockey Wilson than Jockey-sized? Well, frankly it leaves them with a huge deficit to make up.

Well it wasn't until I'd taken 22 powerful and complimentary 'Herbal Ecstasy' pills at the glitzy 'Herbal High' showbiz premiere launch party that I had what alcoholics call 'a moment of clarity'. There was a Personal Fitness Trainer to hand - nice bird, trainer to the stars and with a mint pair of baps. Once righteously wankered on Cristal and Red Bull shooters, PFT exhibited an in-depth knowledge of illegal drug use. She informed me that there are indeed a plethora of interesting substances that would allow motorcycle racers to obtain the requisite 'OCT' - many of them with side effects such as restlessness, shakiness, palpitations, insomnia, cotton-wool mouth and difficulties squeezing out piss from a button-mushroom knob. But weight-loss is guaranteed.

As an athlete, it's easy to understand the reasons you are banned from performance-enhancing drugs. Aside from the fact that you're not gonna jump very far if one of your legs falls off, in such competition your body is effectively the machine and your heart the engine. Bike racing however is different - the competitive element consists of two separate entities and the rider is neither the machine nor the engine. In fact, his only purpose is to control the machine he is mounted on. So, an Olympic athlete taking performance-enhancing drugs is equivalent to Suzuki fitting their RGV500 with quad-turbos. But taking a drug to allow your body to metabolize fat quicker should not be classed as cheating - cheating is increasing engine size to 877cc or filling a set of leathers with straw and racing the bike via remote control.

In motorcycle sport, especially Grand Prix, the rider makes up such a significant amount of the overall weight of the package that a few kilos extra is a big, big deal. It would be fair to say that many talented riders may fit the 'OCT' on its vertical axis but not perhaps on the horizontal plane and these guys need an option. Some riders, like Gobert, don't fit it on either, meaning simply that he is at a distinct competitive disadvantage whatever class he ends up in.     

It seems like sporting behaviour to allow heavier riders the chance to compete on a level playing field.

I propose that teams with 'substantial' riders are able to lighten their machinery with new rules stating that competitors must weigh in with the same all-inclusive rider/machine poundage or, more interestingly, to have a fixed weight-range for the riders but to allow them to reach that target range 'by any means necessary'.

This way you would have riders who are skinny and able to gain little in terms of power-to-weight, and other riders carrying the equivalent of a large Louis Vuitton holdall full of smack in extra muscle mass, giving them obvious gains in physical machine control. As a racer you'd make your choice - runt or ogre - but the important issue is that you'd have a choice. There would be public weigh-ins with the riders wearing only their pants like in boxing or F1. This would stop lighter riders wearing money belts full of lard to appear heavier and then taking them off before the race.

The all-up weight is so crucial to the overall performance of the rider and bike combo in a competitive field we have to allow the 'bigga playaz' to slim down. In fact, they should be forced to - it means more competition, which is better for you and me, the experts, the armchair enthusiasts.

We are all born different, so weight and height vary dramatically from person to person - but why do you think that the 'OCT' for motorcycle racers is that of Frankie Dettori and not Professor Klump? Smaller riders can exploit their stature and express it as a tangible, performance advantage, that's why.

As I see it, paying spectators should not be denied the brilliance of bigger riders just because they can rarely be competitive thanks to a simple but sadly overlooked equation.

A couple of years ago there was a snowboarder stripped from competition because he was found to have been indulging in some heavy, heroin-fuelled sessions with his 'so-called' mates. Logically, the very fact he was able to remember what he was supposed to do, where he was supposed to go, what day to turn up and that he could actually be fucked to do it at all, suggests he overcame far greater odds than the competition.

He doubly deserved the win. As you see, the issue isn't always as cut and dried as it seems.

Stay Hungry.

February 2002

Learning to appreciate what you have is not all about respecting the inanimate, 400lb alloy and plastic man-meat extension, it's about loving what that rubber-soled bad boy can do for you, how it can make you feel and the dynamism and freedom it brings to your life. An R1 is not just for Christmas...

There is a reason that motorcycles were originally called iron horses. They can take you where you want to go, they are a passport to total freedom and when you have total freedom you are able to access a quality area of life unrecognised by others. Now, depending upon your personality you can use that freedom of movement, of expression or simply of being to attain new heights of ecstasy or tap into tranquil mental pastures, where you can emotionally graze in complete solitude or go ballistic on the street with a ridiculous crew of trifling, suicidal maniacs (or, in old money, a band of merry men), whisking you off your feet in a whirlwind of automotive violence and mechanical bloodletting.

Think back, if you will, to when caravans of 'pioneers' and 'settlers' were roaming the plains of what is now called the USA. Those canvas topped caravans were like landcruiser Amazons and the outriders' ponies were like secondhand FJ1200s. The native Indians meanwhile, had a bountiful supply of brand new and low mileage Yamaha R1s, FireBlades and GSX-R1000s. The Indians however, for their terrible sin of existing and helping the pale faces survive - showing them how to make blankets, clothes and feed themselves in the harsh wilderness (just watch Pocahontas) - were naturally murdered in their thousands and then later demonised in movies for all eternity as a bloodthirsty threat to the American way of life and then sycophantically remembered and blessed on Thanksgiving.

Sound familiar? This was catalysed by blatant horse envy from the settlers. They could not bear to have second rate shit in the face of the unsophisticated indigenous peoples. The sad fact is, the Ten Gallon Hat arse bandits had it all wrong. It's not about having a great horse it's about what that horse means to you and the Indians looked after their horses well.

Horses need to be reshod with new shoes, bikes need their tyres replacing, horses need to munch on grass, bikes need to suck up some of that tasty , nutritional, sweet smelling petrol. The Indians did all of that. However, just as horses need a good master so do motorcycles. Woe betide the neglectful owner who lets his companion wither and grow fragile through neglect. Regular check ups are needed from a qualified veterinarian (decent bike mechanic) and a strict regimen of maintenance must be upheld.

An iron horse is your companion - the facilitator of your moods and emotions. It is a creative outlet and it's a healer. It's all these things. It is a spiritual tool. The best way you can look after it is by running it out, giving it some leg room and enjoying your time with it - be that going crazy, galloping all over or having a gentle canter through the countryside.

Thanks to the generosity of Honda I was able to go motocrossing in the heart of the countryside a few weeks ago, testing dirtbikes. In typical English style it was pissing silly with rain. In typical Jimarillo style I decided that it was on the wrong side of nasty for me to get stuck in. By the end of the day, Lindsey, the cat who runs the motocross school couldn't get me off the bike. It doesn't matter where you are or what you're on you can find an enjoyment zone, a pleasure zone, a spiritual zone - it's good for you.  

Taking to the trails on these dirt bikes finds you at one with nature. Remember nature? Trees, grass, ferns - shit like that. Out in California you find yourself in a state where you only have to drive for an hour before you're in some ridiculous, unimaginable, natural playpen and you and ten friends can launch off into the wind blasted yonder without even the faintest sniff of civilisation. It's then that you realise how much more of a feeling you can extract from the company of your trusty two wheeler.

You could buy yourself a little taste of this freedom through the simple but beautiful action of purchasing tassled leather saddle bags for your GSX-R1000 and imagine yourself to be scorching 'cross Big Sky Country whenever you leave the garage. Why? I'm not altogether sure but no one's stopping you and that's freedom in itself. What do you think Harley Davidson and Indian motorcycle riders do with their time? They don't practice wheelies as far as I'm aware.

Now think back to medieval Britain and the forests of Sherwood. The King's men would find themselves searching for Robin Hood in the thick scrub of the forest floor on Suzuki 400 trailies. Just use your imagination - Black Beauty, scorching across damp, sun flecked sands to the pounding rythmn of freedom. Re-run that today and we all know that horse would be a matt black, meth-burning CR500. Be sure to pick your beast carefully though as you can land yourself a live wire. I will never forget the sight of a fully grown man being flung from a gravel pit into the side of his own van by a feisty KX500. Horses will do that in a second too - just give them an excuse, or don't, they'll do it anyway.

And here lies the main difference between horses and motorcycles - a horse has a mind of its own but a bike doesn't - you are in control of your own destiny. It used to be said that 'if wishes were horses - beggars would ride.'        

At nine grand a pop we ain't exactly beggars but that's inflation for you. This is the cheapest ticket in town to genuine emotional wealth - and that's what I'm talking about.

Stay Hungry. Jimarillo. Correspondence to: theundiscokidd@hotmail.com

March 2002

Whenever I get into a serious socio-political argument at a block party or some such quasi-street ghetto gathering I am often asked this question: "Yo, yo, yo man! Hey Jimarillo, what would you do if you were a large and in-charge baller? What if you were Mayor, or Prime Minister, or King of mutherfuckin' England or whatever, dawg?"

Sadly at times like these, the plague of social ills that keeps me awake at night, the profusion of incredibly important issues facing my generation (or 'Generation Y?' as it shall now be called) seems to slip me by.

'Generation Y?' is notable for the crumbling fragments of the dot.com debacle that embarrass the feet of it's 12 year old billionaire, brainiac offspring. 'Generation Y?' is notable for the dawn of the acceptable $1m public sector director's bonus, the turning of the 'Godless', 'evil', Middle Eastern worm, boom-bust economies in South East Asia, the inevitable legalisation and public acceptability of Marijuana in Britain. Devolution, revolution, rampant xenophobia, Nouveau-McCarthyism, state aroused jingoism, ironically funded terrorism, Saudi funded fanatiscism, Pfizer developed priapism, institutionalised racism, the Euro, Human cloning and Britney Spears.

There has been too much structural damage wreaked on the theatre of God, and the hurtful dramas played across her creaking stage every single day have ensured the onset of critical mass. Thanks to a constant and scathing barbed dialogue of ignorance, indifference, injustice, fear and racial hatred six billion grease-painted fuck-monkeys now find themselves bellowing to an empty house - it's, frankly, almost impossible to know where I would start.

I say almost because there is something that seems really worthwhile in the face of all this truth. Nothing less than a devastating restructure of the English driving licence. From Swansea up it would all have to be fucked with - a red tape revolution with an almost unimaginable and far reaching lack of substance.

I have heard it stated on many occasions by many different people that there should be a way of testing drivers who are competent to achieve faster speeds on the motorway. I have been surprised to learn, on a number of occasions, that many feel speeds of up to 85mph can be safely attained with the correct training.

This led me to some applied thinking and, over a great many years I have mentally honed, pared and shaved my 'Utopian Dream Licence System' to maleficent theoretical effect.

My proposal is one of a licencing structure which "...faithfully represents the driver or rider's actual level of proficiency in a number of different areas."

To begin with, let us not forget that there is an unhealthy public and prosecutorial preoccupation with the Highway Code. Although the Code itself was introduced some years ago it has not been comprehensively revised and reviewed in line with the continually changing face of the world, it's politics and the technological evolution of the cars and bikes we use in it.

For example, when was the last time that braking distances were revised? Many people feel that a fair representation of driver and car ability is now not universally known, yet alone shared, depicted and accepted, (certainly not by the courts at least) here in the 21st century. We are in an era where cars and motorcycles can top 200mph and brake from 120mph to zero in about seven metres. These are frankly, incredible facts.

Thanks to relentless development from the tyre manufacturers absolute levels of grip and durability have increased massively. Thanks to huge investments and multi million dollar race budgets from the major factories everything from suspension to engine management to brake technologies that now incorporate once exotic materials and techniques - have been improved to a point unimaginable to the general public just a decade ago. Almost every bike manufacturer now utilses processes that allow 750's to weigh little more than the 400cc machines of the mid Nineteen Nineties, yet be physically of similar stature. All these elements improve the rider's ability to control his machine, to operate more safely within the bounds set by physics and to take care of bizznizz.
 
Naturally there will be shouts from people stating the unproven dynamics of such things as 'Risk Compensation' theory whereby it's stated that the more safety aids available the higher risk an individual will take. The mechanics of risk compensation state that if someone was to buy a brand new Fireblade knowing it to have front, rear, side, ceiling and floor airbags, a 12 point racing harness, 14 pot brake calipers working 340mm ceramic discs, run flat radial tyres made from pure glue and outrigger wheels, this individual would drive like a righteous, card carrying piece of punk-assed bitch.

Of course, as my peeps muse, there will always be a lot of haters out there when you come up with ideas like this. Imagine if you will, the convenience and social kudos that could be enjoyed thanks to a state endorsed ability to make random U-turns. This is just one element of a licence range that would be 'Veteran London Cabby' specific.

A simple but effective test that would prove extremely useful to Vauxhall Omega drivers, for example, would be to judge their ability to safely dive from the central reservation across three lanes of traffic and up a slip road, narrowly avoiding the exit sign. A pass would hand them their 'Late Exiting Licence'. Very handy.

Urban driving could be massively improved also with a rigorous test for van drivers enabling them  to live up to public expectation by mounting pavements and bending lamp posts in an approved fashion. Their test would include a multiple choice section on the correct procedure for the red-faced wielding of a tyre iron against any other road users in a variance of life like simulations.

Now you're more than likely starting to get excited about this, but you can probably see a few problem areas ahead already. How, for instance, would you be able to honestly test riders when they are trying to earn their 'lane splitting at over 180mph licence'? Answer? "Get airborne." We are then posed the obvious question: "Is it practical to employ helicopter gunships for a simple driving test?" followed, naturally by: "Who would foot the bill? The tax-payer?"

Imagine my delight whilst rapping with Magnum, big cheese at the buff new Ruff Ryders joint in North LA when he informed me that Ruff Ryders (Hip Hop label and bike shop) have taken the metaphorical plunge. They are the first organisation (albeit non-state endorsed) one can apply to for the golden goose of all 'Utopian Dream Licences' - the 'Wheelie Licence'.

For a RR 'Wheelie Licence' a test must be taken that involves the controlled mono-wheeled riding of a machine for an instructor-approved distance of approximately two blocks. Full and competent use of the gears must be demonstrated by the testees (look Mama, no hands!) along with a jumbo jet squeal and a pungent puff of smoke accompanying your 130mph touch down.

Now that really makes sense doesn't it? 'Feet Up Donut Licence' forms will soon be available at a Post Office near you - if I ever makes it to Parliament, that is. I'm out,

One love. Jimarillo.

April 2002

Gatso. Sounds like one of the Marx brothers doesn't it? Sadly that's where the comedy stops. Originally designed by rally driving Maurice Gatsonides, the Gatso Camera was built to enable him to drive faster completing his practice stages at breakneck pace. The sheer, painful irony.

The first operational Gatso camera was installed in Britain in 1992 after proving deeply, ominously successful in Australia. It was bolted down on a 40mph stretch of the A316 near London but set to trigger only if a vehicle exceeded 60mph. Within 15 minutes it had snapped over 200 luckless fools and was out of film.

It was around this time that I first moved to London. Being an out-of-towner I had never even heard of Gatso cameras or the damage that they can do to your wallet and your unblemished record. I used to traverse a certain stretch of road near the Thames every day. For a couple of weeks I wondered to myself what the devil that strange flashing was as I passed a certain magistrates court. 'Probably the old Bill' I'd think to myself as I'd snick it into fourth and squeeze the hammer down.

Some weeks later the tickets started hitting my desk and before long the curved steel legs were buckling. It was then I realized that things were... fucked.

Years later and the scourgis digitalis is upon us. Cameras that never run out of film and are designed to photograph you from the front. No pretending it wasn't you my son! However, we bike dudes don't have number plates on the front and we all wear black visors.

I remember the old days when bikers were bad, local authorities were skint and Cameras were empty. Often I would wheelie directly towards them on the wrong side of the road in order to set them off. Sometimes I'd wheelie past them the other way. I didn't really care in them days. I would either have a false number plate or, more often than not I'd have no number plate at all, preferring to carry my plate inside my jacket because it had "just fallen off..." Again.

This is what my friend from Israel would tell me anyway, the one who always seemed to be riding my motorbike when the notices came through. I was legally obliged to supply a name and address, which I did, and the rest was up to the police, who, being the tenacious beasts that they are did fuck all when they realised the line of enquiry extended beyond the British Isles.

I always remember thinking to myself: 'if these camera things are supposed to promote road safety and encourage more sedate driving, then why are they stealthily secreted behind signposts, bridges or trees and coded in black or invisible urban grey?' Why do drivers constantly find themselves frying the retarders midcorner creating a potential accident scenario because they only spotted the camera at the last minute?

With barely seven per cent of road accidents involving excessive speed as a factor the police are able to justify the placement of speed cameras on motorways and dual carriageways whilst everyone from the Highway Authorities to the anally retentive motoring organizations agree that the speed limit could actually be raised by at least 10mph. Here's an idea: Instead, why not put them on the local highstreet where casualty rates are six times higher but the overall number of revenue raising speeders is overall, substantially less? Oh, I just answered that myself. They could also be put near accident blackspots.

These are actually quite easy to find. Go down a high street or a built up area and then look for wreaths of flowers by the roadside. Have a look around, how many Gatso cameras do you see there?
That's right, as much as the government want to make speeding as socially unacceptable an offence as drink driving, the reality is that speed itself doesn't kill - inappropriate speed does and where people speed inappropriately there is no real financial reward for the police or the local authorities.

Why have a high visibility, heavily signposted camera at a place where you could save the lives of two or three kids every year when you might only catch and fine 100 motorists? Fuck it, if you put 30 or more cameras on gantries near Heathrow airport you'll snap maybe the same amount of punters in 10-15 minutes.

Sadly a couple of London authorities have been experimenting with parking cameras and there are a bunch of arseholes in Kent who are trying to convince the powers-that-be to start buying their new speed cameras which are secreted in cats eyes. On top of this the DVLA has recently launched its Stingray tax evasion system. Despatch riders be very afraid. These bad boys are linked to a central computer and can check more than 1,500 number plates an hour, cross-referencing them to check your tax situation. The UK is a small place and getting smaller every day.

Stay Hungry, Jimarillo. Correspondence to: theundiscokidd@hotmail.com

June 2002

There is a term in the world of two wheels that has been so misused, so terribly and shamelessly cheapened, so eagerly molested and flippantly abused that it has become, practically, meaningless. That term? Superbike.

Just taking a look round at the delectable selection of machinery freely available on the street is enough to convince anybody that we're spoiled for choice. And we are. Beautiful road tools such as the 998 Ducati, R1 Yamaha and the GSX-R1000 Suzuki are freely available - 180mph metal is not difficult to get hold of these days and the ridiculously digestible retail prices put them in the garages of the public at large. Bloody bra-vo. This is what makes a superbike, then?

No. Without wanting to sound pedantic, this phrase has been bandied around a little too lightly and, as a result, the public's perception of what is achievable in the ultimate pantheon of design has become dulled and falsely represented.

The aforementioned are merely sports bikes. Not totake anything away from them, but that is what they are. A superbike should essentially symbolize something quite different. Something dynamically and technologically on a level beyond what any of us could reasonably expect or indeed, imagine.
Supercar. Here is a word that conjures up a quite different palate of emotions.

Lets rewind for a second. Back in the day Ford built a little supercar, name of GT40. It was a bona fide racer for the street. This beauty showcased aluminium-skinned bodywork so thin that it would crease in your hands like Nappa leather. It had row upon row of fire spunking bell mouths and was barely 40 inches high, hence the name. At the time it looked incredible, unreachable - in retrospect it became simply beautiful - an unobtainable icon.

Powering toward the present day we have seen specialist manufacturers such as Porsche and Ferrari manifest absolute automotive supremacy in the shape of the GT1 and the F40. Flame breathing exotica for real. Excrutiatingly uncompromising in both their use of materials and their painstaking construction.
Moving on to the mother of all supercars, the Lamborghini Diablo. Simply opening the door of this thing is a calendar worthy event. Park it in town and people soil themselves in awe at what they can never have - unless they sacrifice their life savings and even then they'll need 25k a year for running costs. 
Now we have the Bugatti Veyron: a £750,000, 250mph beast with 1,000bhp and 995 ftlb of torque. A car that comes with its own personal rubber technician who will come and fit special hi-performance tyres when you want to speed test the car at its (not inconsiderable) limits.

Supercars are about mind altering performance, unusable, terrifying and complex handling, ludicrous width, incomprehensible servicing requirements and, of course, noise. Bi-turbos, quad-turbos, supercharging. Whatever it takes to breach that holy 600bhp watermark of true superiority is done. It's about pride and achievement. Esoteric engine configurations long ago became a statutory condition. Flat 12's, V12's, V10's - litres upon litres of raceshop-built insanity.  Beauty arrives through function over form, that is the mantra of the supercar manufacturer.

This brings us neatly to the crux of the problem. There are now a great many cars out there that can trounce the arse off the very best our lackadaisical, two wheeled world has to offer and that just ain't right.

A fast car makes say, 280bhp... a proper supercar can make at least double that. It appears then that for a company to legitimately coin the term superbike, power output needs desperately to be addressed. Science tells us that it should be raised from the embarrassing 160bhp sportbike 'benchmark' to a minimum of 320bhp - logic, brother.

If you can work on a superbike yourself then it isn't a superbike. We need V12's and pneumatic valves, 19,000rpm redlines, head-up displays, Alcantara seats and damn it, we need those bi-turbos and supercharging, we need 345 section radial tyres and hand assembled, blue-printed engines.

A real superbike needs to be so fast that you are obliged to take a manufacturer sponsored test before you are even able to get on one. They need to accelerate from zero to 180mph and brake back down to zero in 18 seconds. They need to reach an electronically limited top speed of 250mph and they need to post sub 8-second quarters. Bearing this in mind it is also worth noting that they should almost certainly feature electronically adjustable, telescopic swingarms. But, most of all they must retail at over £100,000. That's right, a true superbike must be out of the reach of all but the top 1% of this population to buy.

The closest anyone has yet come to a real superbike was Honda with the NR750. It had the unmentionable ticket of 38 large back in the day and showcased all the innovative freshness that a superbike should but it was, sadly, a turd. 125bhp? Wha? Try 220bhp which, relativity taken into account, would have made it as timeless as the F50 Ferrari. A machine that people would forever talk of in hushed tones. A machine that would make people lie and say they'd actually seen one just to impress their friends. Instead it was a bike that barely a few years later anyone could have torn the arse out of with a 5 grand, 600cc shit box. An opportunity missed this could, however, have been the non-event which finally exposed the brittle spine of a visionless industry.

Peace. Jimarillo. Correspondence to: theundiscokidd@hotmail.com

July 2002

I got something on my mind. You see I woke up the other morning and my ass was paralysed. I mean dead to the touch. Reaching under the duvet I had to check I wasn't some amputee victim who'd just come round in hospital and everything I'd thus far supposed to be my life wasn't, in fact, some twisted quasi-Freudian dreamscape.

I quickly discovered that whilst both legs were still physically attached to my body and my joint still seemed to work I had no feeling. Legs like kebab meat. Damn. This is some foul, foul shit I thought to myself.

As I failed to stretch to my soft pack of Marlboro lights and shooting pains lit up my spinal column like a fourth of July garden party I realized that perhaps I had been living my life... Wrong - maybe I needed to address certain issues.

Not long after this worrisome episode I am rolling towards Malibu in a 6.5 litre, '71 Plymouth Gran Fury to watch all the born again hooligans tear it up outside Neptune's Sea Food Grill on their tuned and groomed two wheeled techno-miracle muscle machines.

At a particular moment I decide to brake but, when I try to lift my foot from the floor toward the pedal a searing jolt of pain causes an instant anurism, a brain bubble and I momentarily pass out - stone cold unconscious. I come round as we are about to smash into a dumpster and using the incline of the hill to slow the car I slam it into park when we eventually reach a standstill.

Some days later I was lying in bed recovering whilst random bolts of devastating pain were threatening to wipe out my central nervous system in it's entirety. I was cordially rushed to County hospital where I came round next to a 300lb, 'roid bumped, Chicana Essay Gangsta motherfucker who had rag-dolled from a motorcycle and was sporting some broken limbs and a pretty nasty gash on his, heavily inked leg. The cold part was that the doctors were scared to treat this cat because he was afraid of needles... Needless to say this one ran and ran - the medics eventually rushing him after bursting through the curtains in the dead of night. They knocked him out with a well-aimed jab of Pethadine to the arse and that awesome, boiling street rage was soon as dormant as his petrified carcass.

So what's happening to me? Well the doctors were soon able to tell me I had, some time ago fractured a couple of vertebrae in my lower back and the deferred pain was now affecting serious party organs such as my kidneys, which are extremely important for heavy drinking. "You must have had a bad accident at some point," they probed. Er, yes. Just a few, I thought. "All it takes is one awkward collision and you could end up feeling it for the rest of your life." The doc continued in a depressing monotonic drawl.

I began to mentally chalk up the different accidents that could have caused this disruption in my present schedule. I went back - right back. After many hours of brow wrinkling concentration I narrowed it down to 135 or 136 major get-offs between '92 and '98. Illuminating as that exercise was it only served to prove that the law of averages was trying to deny me of my privileged position outside the realms of mortal mathematics.

To qualify the docs, although our tough young bodies may bounce gaily across tarmac and get immediately up for another go, time will always work against us. Whilst we all think we're indestructible (and, to an extent I believe I have proved that to be true) we are, in fact, highly degradable.

It's no joke when they tell you that you're going to be shot to shit with arthritis by the time you're 40 but, when you're only 25 who gives a shit? These days I wake up to a morale-crushing symphony of cracking joints and fit-to-burst soft tissue damage. It has become normal, that's just the way it is. The cold part is that it was apparently 90% avoidable.

I guess what I'm saying is that for the sake of a few cheap thrills and a handful of uncalculated risks or acts of careless abandon you can be paying the price for the rest of your life - you don't even know what that price is gonna be 'till way down the line and the later you perpetrate this shit, the bigger the ticket you're going to pay.

Is it worth it? I'll be straight with you... Combined, every moment of every ride I have ever had has probably been worth it. The heavenly energies that motorcycling imbues my spirit with may be priceless but they have cost me dearly - primarily in bodily wear & tear. In retrospect, I could maybe have done it all a lot differently - but then I wouldn't be who I am. You don't have to always take risks and act crazy to enjoy your time but if commotion in motion is your bag and that's how you bust your nut, then you have to make sure that you're prepared to pay the consequences. My mama always used to say to me "If you can't do the time then don't do the crime" and in a way I agree with the screws, she was almost certainly right.

As much as we tell everyone that motorcycling isn't dangerous, as long as we perpetuate the myth to others and ourselves that we're fine, it's the other road users we have to be wary of we will end up in A&E years down the line complaining about the fact our arms don't extend any more, how we can't twist our necks or we've lost all feeling in our hands.

You see we'd all rather believe in a beautiful lie than the ugly truth - this shit can get nasty quick. Keep it real and decide what's important in your life.

Out. Jimarillo. Correspondence to: theundiscokidd@hotmail.com