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Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Jim Day, Jun 3, 2020.
Turning 68 tomorrow, gotta ride!!
Now that I have reached and exceeded 62, am I still riding? DAMN STRAIGHT I AM!! With an luck and decent health I may enjoy yet another 20 years of riding. Scary really that I am in the last two decades of my riding career. I have seen and know some riders who are still getting the miles under their full size motorcycles like a BMW or Harley, but those are few. Friend of mine in my cycle club, Ken McHugh, up to about four years ago would pile on 35,000 miles a year. Now at 84 Mac is no longer riding. He hit the Million Mile mark on BMWs years ago. I'm at about 300,00 miles under my butt now. I doubt I'll get much higher than 500,000 miles even if I start averaging 10,000 miles a year.
Despite my huffing and puffing about riding during our lockdown, lockdown is now over and I haven't been on the bike since mid march...well, I did go for a short ride to test an exhaust I made during my short retirement. We have gone from warm clear days of late summer and into winter. At 66 I've decided to act my age - I'm not riding to work in sub zero C temps, not riding in sunstrike where I can't see the road in front, and I'm not riding in thick fog. I'll still be out on the bike, but in weather of my choosing now.
Am 76 years old, now. Five heart attacks and two heart failures, (the latest in December of last year). Was taught how to ride my first motorcycle by some American airmen in Goose Bay, Labrador, back in 1962. Went to the U.K. in '64, rode with the rockers for a couple of years. Came back to Canada in '68, (with a Triumph Triton in a crate. Got a job, pulling wrenches in a bike shop in Ottawa, that December. (Bought a new Triumph Bonneville in '69- that thing was gutless- until I installed the Paul Dunstall 750 hop up kit off my Triton on it. I saw 134 mph on the clock, one nite after that!
Sold the Bonney in '70, and bought a Norton Commando. (I was working at a Norton/Ducati dealership at that time- I asked them: how much for a new Commando- they quoted me 1300 bucks. So, I talked to a buddy, (His name was Dick Stevens. He was a Norton dealer- I used to do work for him, (and drive his van to race meetings in Canada and the States. ) He sold me a Commando- for 12 hundred bucks. And you can imagine- showing up on my new bike, at the shop, and they said: "Where did you get that!?!" I replied: Motospeed gave it to me, for 1200 bucks. Haw!
In January of 2015, I was hanging out at the VRRA booth, at the end of the Toronto International Bike Show. They were taking the booth down- hauling it outside & loading it into trailers, (in a raging blizzard). I was so impressed- these guys were all volunteers. So- I offerred to help them set the booth up, at the Dealer's Show, downtown.
I don't normally go to the dealer's show- the only bikes they have there that interest me- are machines that I cannot let myself have. But anyway- I helped them set up the booth. Then, I went for a look around. I went to a Kawasaki booth, to look at the KLR 650. Nice bike, with a good rep- but my feets don't touch the ground when I sit on it. (Ya can't have it.)
I went to the GP Bikes booth- to have another look at the Duke 690. (I wanted it so bad)- but same thing: my feets don't touch the ground
They had another bike there- that I had never heard of- the Duke 390. I asked if I could sit on it? "Sure." (And my feets touched the ground!)
Ya got any blurbs on this? "No. This is the first one in north america- they lent it to us for consumer feed back." They gave me a bizness card.
I went home and googled it:
42 BHP- that's about 10 hp more than any four stroke single, that I had owned over the last 40 years!
Dry weight of just over 300 pounds- that is around 100 pounds of anything else!
Factory installed copy of the Bosch ABS system! (I was in love!)
I fired off an email to them: I was at your show tonite- before it was open to the public. You had a KTM 390 Duke on display-can you have a salesperson contact me?
A guy named Carl called me back. Cost was a little over six grand, (Plus 600 bucks dealer prep plus taxes.) I told him that I did not have that much in savings?
Carl replied: "Give us a couple of hundred bucks, and we will finance it for you."
What! Who is gonna finance a bike for a 72 year old guy?
Carl: "Don't worry- I will talk to them."
That nite, I was invited for supper- by a lady from South America- who is a flight attendant for a major airline. (She is outrageously FOXY!) Over supper, (and a nice glass of wine)- I told her:
I was at the bike show, last nine- and I found the bike of my dreams! (It isn't perfect- nothing is- but it is as close am I am gonna get!) But it costs so much money! What happens- if I have blown my wad- on what is essentially a toy- and my adult kids and grand children, get into a financial problem- and I cannot help them?
She: "Do you really want that bike?"
She: "go and get it. You have family members who are better off, financially, than you are- your kids are not gonna hurt. Get your motorcycle licence back-too- and then you can take me for a ride downtown on it!"
(I had been a pedestrian for twenty years. I had not renewed my licence, after two serious accidents- that should have killed or maimed me- but did not!)
I had chickened out. I had two motorcycles in a shipping container- an '89 Honda GB500, and a hopped up '78 Yamaha SR500. I had taken the wheels off them- so I could not ride them. (That ain't gonna work- I can put the wheels back on either of them- in one hour. So- I had dismantled both motors!)
I can't believe this is happening!
I never got to take her for a ride on it- it got stolen, a week after I bought it! (I had a heavy cable lock lock on it- tying the frame to a metal fence post, set in concreet- they cut the cable and took it away!
Never mind that- when the insurance company finally paid up, I called Carl, (At GP Bikes) Carl said: "How much did they give you?)
I replied: They gave me 73 hundred bucks.
Carl: "That is more than you paid for it."
Yeah- they asked me- what the total cost of the bike was, and I told them- the cost of the bike/ dealer prep/ extended four year warranty/ delivery charge/ etc.
Carl: "You can buy another bike now- what do you want?"
Said: I want another 390 Duke.
Carl: " You probably already know- that they are all gone?"
Yeah- I know that- put me down for a 2016.
Carl: "The 2016s will not arrive- until April or May of next year?"
That's fine- I will wait.
One week later, Carl called me back: "Come over and sign the papers for your new bike."
What- you told me that they weren't coming in until next year!?!
Carl: " this is a 2015- don't ask me where we got it. We are giving it to you, for 58 hundred bucks. Officially, it is a demonstrator- but it has zero miles on it.
We are waiving the dealer prep fee- because we know that you used to work as a bike mechanic. Come and get it."
So- I called my lady friend. I gotta go to Whitby, Ontario, to get my new bike. That is such a hasssle- I gotta catch the bus to downtown/ catch the train from there/ catch a taxi from there.
She: "I am flying back to Toronto on Saturday- I will take you there in my car?"
Haha- show up at a bikeshop- with an airline flight attendant. (Firstly- these women are drop dead gorgeous! Secondly- they are- I don't know how to describe it. (Everybody in the bikeshop was checking her out.)
I said: I have to go into the office and sighn? some papers- take a look around the showroom- and let me know if you see anything you like.
I signed the papers, and found her in the showroom. See anything you want?
She: " I don't need any of this stuff. But- look at this bike- it costs 26 thousand dollars!"
Haha- you wanna go 200 miles per hour- this is the bike for you, (I would have bought it for her. Damm right!
But anyway- I will leave you with a story:
Back in '65, I was hanging out at an English bike club, (Called the Jonhson's Motorcycle club- the JNCC.) Our hangout, was a transport caff- out near West Kingstown, (and the entrance to the Brands Hatch Racetrack.) I virtually lived there- for over one year. I was there, two or three nites a week- and every weekend. This place, was called The Rising Sun Caffe. The club, was named after a guy- named Harry Johnson- he owned the place. I remember- being introduced to him. He said:
"We got one rule, here: You never show up here- under the infulence of drugs or alcohol- and you never bring any of that shit here- because if you do- you are down the road, and you never come back!" And then he stepped towards me- and shouted in my face: "Is that clear?"
Me thinks- this guy has to be ex-military? (No matter- he cared about us!
The 59 Club, was the same thing. (This one, was lead by a pastor, named Father Bill Shergold. He used to throw bikeshows and rock concerts in his church basement. And if you were stuck in London, you could rent a pew for a couple of bob, ( but you had to leave, before morning services.)
The ACE CAFE- was the same. (Been there and done that.) There were older guys, who looked after us! It was grand!
Back in '65- I was standing on the front step of the Rising Sun Cafe, (holding my mug of tea)- and a Brough Superior rode onto the lot. (Inever thought I would ever see, one of these on the road- they stopped making these, in the late thirties.) I walked over to it- to find out which model it was- as the rider dismounted and took off his helmet, (A young guy- possibly late twenties.)
Walking around the bike, (it was an SS100), chatting with the rider- and I said: You are probably aware- that Lawrence of Arabia used to ride one of these bikes?
He laughed- and pulled a folded up piece of paper, and handed it to me. That paper- was a mimeographed copy- of the front page of a Coventry Newspaper, dated 1935. The headline, said Lawrence Dead. There was a photo- of the motorcycle- laying on it's left side- on the back of a mini flat deck lorry. There was a column, on the right side of that page- that told who Lawrence was. (You can find- Lawrence's correspondence with the Brough Factory- in the Collected Letters of T.E. Lawrence.)
This rider said: "Do you see- the licence plate of the bike in that photo?"
I said: Yeah.
He said: "Take a look, at the licence plate on the back of my bike."
I did- it was the same!?!
I said: Holy shit- you are riding the bike that Lawrence died on! Where did you get this?
He replied: "My family has lived in the same house in Coventry- for three generations. We had a bomb shelter in the back yard- which had been used as dead storage, for decades. My parents- decided that they did not need this bomb shelter, any more- so the asked me to clean it out- so they could bring in a contractor to remove it, and re-landscape the back yard.
I found two Brough Superiors in there- one had major engine failure, the other had been crashed- so I put together parts of both- and here it is. I found out-later- that my grand parents had been friends with Lawrence."
I said: Given this bike's history- this thing must be worth a fortune!
He replied: "I have already been offered a thousand pounds for it- but I will never part with it."
I never saw him again- but over twenty years ago, I read that this machine, had been auctioned off- at the Sotheby's Auction House, and it sold for 1 million pounds!
It took me- another ten years, to find out who bought it- it was The Royal War Museum, in London!
We have the Internet, now. I sent them an email- telling them what I just told you. I never got a reply.
There is, a Borough Superior Owner's Club, online. I contacted them- too. They wrote back: "We have never heard of that."
Where do I go from here? I don't know.
But I know- and you know-too- that I am now 'Waiting On The Last Train'. (Thank you- Bobby Dillan.)
I don't care! I have had, a really good life- and I got no regrets. And the most decent and interesting people, that I have ever met- all rode MOTORCYCLES!
I have- a new tent/ saddlebags/ camping clobber. (And I wanna thank- You, Baldy- for my Adventure Rider's T-shirt and Hat! I will be wearing these- while looking for other inmates. See Ya soon- maybe?
Two posts in 3 1/2 years, both today. This one is definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing.
Do you mean to tell me there are people who don't ride?
Great second post, Sheik!!! (except for the "five heart attacks and two heart failures" part...)
You know, we all sound like pretty lucky riders. Mostly cause we are not only still here but we still try to communicate .
Some are much better, while others are better at reading it all & even between the lies or lines....
Point: I don't mind others passing me & actually enjoy watching the level of skill I once enjoyed....as it goes down the road.
My biggest thrill now is just missing that last tree & able to duck those low hanging massive collections of Spanish Moss, making it over that surprising root cluster the last rain washed out & braking just in time to not fly out into traffic at the end of my driveway.
Wow! Thank you very much!
Here's another one for Ya:
Shortly after I arrived in the U.K.- My cousin Carol, (A striking blondie- about my age)- announced that she was taking me to her hangout to meet her friends.
(I had not bought a bike, yet.)
Anyway- she took me to The Railway Hotel, in Dartford. Kent. (Every railway station in the U.K.- has a railway hotel. (These are the closest hotels to the railway station. All of them, have rooms to rent if you have to change trains. All of them, have a pub/bar. All of them, have an off licence, (where you can buy booze and cigarettes. All of them, have a large room in the back- that you can rent for things like birthdays/anniversaries/ holidays/ etc.
How CIVILIZED is that?
This place- had several dozen scooters, parked in front. (They were festooned, with extra lights and rearviews!?!)
Carol, takes me to the room in the back- it was filled with people. Everybody there- new my cousin! (I found out-later- she had dated Mick Jagger).
The women, were called 'Dollybirds'- or 'birds'. The males, all wore tailor made suits. (Mine cost 25 quid. I had polished shoes/ a tartan vest, (my ancestors were Scots)/ a cravat, (the whole nine yards.) But these guys, were all wearing WW2 military parkas with hoods. The fur trim in their coats, was rabbit or squirrel. My coat- was current USAF Artic Jacket. The fur trim on it, was Wolverine.
These people, were called 'Mods'- never heard of them. Never heard of Rockers- either. But they accepted me, (because of my cuz).
Chatting with one of the guys, he asked: "Do you own a scootah?
"Do you wanna come for a ride on my bike?"
Sure- I will try anything, once.
We went outside, and got on his bike. (It was a Lambretta). He took me for a ride, downtown. We did 75 mph! (I almost crapped my knickers!)
Back to the pub- I was chatting with some of the guys, and a bird danced over, and stroked the trim on my coat!?! (She said: "I like your fur!"- and danced away.
(I gotta say it- I was a Canadian small town hick- I freaked out!) Haha.
Another guy, comes to me, he said: "Do you wanna buy a pill- ten shillings each?" He had a handfull of pills, in each hand.
I said: What are those?
He: "These are Purple Hearts, and these are Black Bombers.)
Uh- what is the pharmicutical name for these things?
He: "I don't know."
Then- why do you take these things?
He: "We take them to get high."
(I had never heard of drugs- I replied: Why on earth would I want to get high? I was already high- I was having the time of my life! I was having such fun!)
It was going so good! (But I was having misgivings about these people- drinking booze/ popping pills/ riding scooters without helmets- it just didn't sound like a good idea?
The following Friday, at 6:45 am- I was waiting at the bus stop, near the top of West Hill. (Rain and heavy smog/fog). Umbrellas are out. Chatting with a bunch of people who I had got to know. A MOTORCYCLE came past- and he was really moving! I gotta get another bike, ASAP.
When I finished work, I went to a local bikeshop. (I had been reading about these things, via the American bikerags. This shop- was called Schwiesos. (The locals called them 'Squeezos'- haha). Inside that front door, was a large showroom. They had, one of every English motorcycle + BMW- that was made, at that time!
Machines that I had read about- but never seen! Ohmygawd- the Triump Bonneville and Trophy/ The BSA Superrocket and Gold Flash/ The Velocetts/ etc. etc. Totally awesome- I felt like I had died and gone to heaven!
But I had only 100 pounds in my pocket. They had another showroom for used bikes- so I looked around there. (Half of those bikes- had a pan, underneath the motor- to catch the drippings. About two dozen used bikes- Triumphs, Nortons, an Ariel Square Four- and even a BSA Goldstar! (They had already stopped making the Goldie- and these bikes were never cheap, even secondhand.)
Over in the corner- I saw a bike with no pan under it. It had a fiberglass fairing on it, (Much like the touring farings you can buy today.) Hmmm- it does seem to rain a lot around here.
A salesman came over- I asked, what kind of bike is this?
He replied: "This is a Royal Enfield Meteor Minor Airflow Deluxe. It is a 500 c.c. vertical twin. The fairing on it, was designed and installed, by the factory.
Come to my office."
That bike, was 125 quid. Told him that I did not have that much money.
"We can put it on the 'hire purchase' for you."
What is hire purchase- never heard of that.
"You give us a downpayment of twenty- five pounds, and pay us monthly in installments for the rest."
Really? Sign me up! (I can't believe this!)
" We also do insurance- one pound per week?)
Sounds like a good idea- considering they drive on the wrong side of the road- here.
"Come back tomorrow, to get your bike."
The next day, was a saturday. I worked until noon. and went to the bikeshop. My bike, was parked outside. I found the salesmanager- he gave me the keys and followed me outside. He never asked if I had a motorcycle licence. He asked, if I knew how to ride a bike?
No problem. I had a couple of these, back in Canada. I rode home- and that nite, I rode to the Railway Hotel- parked my bike, at the end of a row of scooters, and went inside. I was having a beer and chatting with some birds- a half dozen guys confronted me:
"Is that your motorcycle outside?"
"You can't bring that here!"
" you just can't! Your clothes are cool- but if you wanna hang out- here- you have to get rid of that bike and get a scootah!"
I don't want a bloody scootah- they are unstable- and they aren't fast enough!
They told me to leave- right now- or they were gonna kick the crap out of me!?! They followed me outside- right to my bike, (I thought they were gonna swarm me!) Got on my bike and left.
Does your bike do the ton? (I was on the motorway- headed to Brighton. There was no traffic- so I pinned the throttle and put my chin on the gas tank, and let her rip. (My bike- now had the fairing removed, (and I had clip-ons on it.)
Coming up to the exit ramp, I shut the throttle off- sat upright-looked in the rear-views: There was a baby blue Jaguar CAR- a roof rack with flashing lights on it- and two cops inside, (Laughing their asses off.)
When they saw that I had seen them, they waved me to pull over. Which I did.
They got out that car, and asked for my licence/ insurance/ registration. I gave them my Canadian driver's licence.
They said: "Ahhh- wot's a Canadian doing here?"
I replied: They have speed limits where I come from.
They said: "We have followed you for the last ten miles- at speeds in excess of 116 miles per hour! (I was gonna ask them for written proof- the guys I was running with- would never believe me! (Changed my mind on that one)
One of the cops- shook my headlight from side to side. "Nice work. Did you do this yourself?"
They said: "Even though we have no speedlimits on the motorways- yet- we could still bust you, for DANGEROUS DRIVING! But there was no one else in the road- so it you want to kill yourself- go right ahead. Have a nice day! They got in their car, and left.................
I met Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, in the summer of '65. (Super nice guys!) (Mick Jagger's parents lived next door.) I never jammed with them- at the time, I was playing guitar, (in a roadside tavern)- in a place called Greenhithe, Kent. (The founder of that band, was a guy named Carl Dunk)
I had drinks with a guy, named Rod Stewart. (He was singing in a band, called The Small Faces- at that time. Another super nice guy!)
I was getting married, to a Russian woman- in Dubai, UAE, about 18 years ago. They built two series of artificial islands, there. One was shaped like a palm tree- the other one had the earth's continents on it. Rod Stewart, bought the island of Britain. (I think he paid 25 million bucks for it.) He kept it for a few years, and sold it to Richard Branson.
I had great fun- hanging out with the Arab bikers- at a biker bar in Dubai, (called ROCK BOTTOM).
It's all been good!
Time to start writing that book!!
Your stuff is very readable. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to more.
I'm 58 and my tyres will be flat.
There's no stand out cobwebs on my RS but two of my push rod tube seals have started to weep in the shed. They didn't leak when it got a regular flogging.
I've hardly ridden in 6 months.
The silver lining is I haven't broken anything.
A hiatus perhaps.
Started riding at 14 when grandad sent big bro and I his girder forked '39 Ariel 200 - 3 speed hand change on the tank and all that jazz.
After well over 100 bikes riding on road - trials and road racing still riding regularly with wife on pillion at 78. I find it easier than cutting my toe nails.
Current bikes Honda CRF250 Rally & Honda X-ADV750.
Worst accident - breaking my neck on 650 BSA at 19 years of age in 1961 wearing open faced Bell helmet. Seems the low neck curtain on the early Bell's were responsible for many dislocated vertibrae.
Pleased to say there haven't been too many off's since - except off-road and road racing and they don't count.
Looking forward to meeting you all on the road sumtime - Don
Jeez it’s Geez time. I was gonna write my Moto Memoirs but I could just do it here...
74 today, started riding at 16 on a sprung hub Triumph T100 and done around 1,300,000 km since then.
Never had an off I haven't driven home from--------------yet!
Still get out any day the weather is good, tucked up behind a couple of guys on Oilheads on Friday and chased them down the road for 50 km - on my 25 HP RE Himalayan!
Winter is just setting in here, pissing down , icy cold off the Southern Ocean , 80 mm of rain since Sat morning, so I will leave the roads to the young guys today and work on my birthday presents - not hard to buy a present for a Scotsman.
Started on the Chivas Regal, nostalgia as I worked on the construction of their blending and bottling plant 55 years ago, took the young lasses from the bottling line round the trading estate at lunchtime on my Velo Venom ---!
Happy birthday Beemer .. I hope u slipped a bottle or two of the Chivas Regal blend in your bag. One 50 years old sold recently for £21,000.
Bet the Mauchline lassies still remember their ride on the back of your Venom.
Cheers .. Don
The one that ,er, popped off, probably does!