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|Howling Terror's Public Bio|
Finding myself middle-aged, skint and without wheels I'm all set to use public transport until I get a phonecall from my Uncle.
'How you getting on?'
'Looking at cars I can't afford'
'Do one of those CBT thingies and you can use my old XL'
'A Bike?....Not thought about that' I said partly in truth. The truth being I'd always loved bikes, ever since Evil Kinevil (sic) and #7 Barry Sheene.
In my early teens I'd ridden a FS1E and TS80 and really wanted one of my own. Sitting on a Z1300 and revving it probably sealed it. I love bikes.
A lot of people rode motorcycles in the 70s and 80s and living near the Cat n Fiddle 'racetrack' meant deaths were regularly reported in the local press. Family members had lost loved ones. I was always dissuaded....and rightly so. I was a bit of a cock when I had a car at 17.
My Brother-in-law kindly delivered it and just before he drove off I asked him 'How do you start it?'
Half an hour later on a damp dark September night I was riding. It felt easy. It was fun!
I booked a CBT.
I'd chosen a local trainer and similar to Terry my old driving instructor John was a maverick.
Unlike Terry I wasn't offered a cigarette during the first lesson but John didn't bat an eyelid when I appeared on the XL at the empty Tennis court where the instruction would take place. In all the excitement I'd forgotten such minor details as riding to a CBT.
It was windy, the miniature traffic cones were getting blown about making figure of 8s interesting.
John was getting fed up with chasing cones so I cheekily asked for a ride of his bike. 'Sure' he said.
It felt planted compared to the XL what with it's worn knobblies and long travel suspension. John's bike had an electric start but it would be many years before I enjoyed that luxury.
Later that same day I had my certificate and off I went, everywhere I could. Hills, byways and highways, off-road where I particularly enjoyed the use of a disused quarry. I knew places like this were good places to learn how to ride. Little jumps, little slides, little falls etc.
During those winter nights it wasn't uncommon to find my daughter laughing as I attempted and succeeded to ride the XL into the front room where we would fettle it. Poor girl having to explain knuckle rash from cleaning the chrome.
We learned from a manual how to change the oil and adjust the clutch cable. In fact it seemed to be a never ending cycle of general maintenance, and we(I) liked it.
Riding a bike on the road isn't simple. I was discovering the variables on a weekly basis. One or two moments I will present for your pleasure.
The 'Zig-Zag'. It's a maneuver whereupon you apply throttle and brake amidst panic whilst wrestling the bike between two cars at a staggered junction. Both of which hadn't seen me approach and both turned into my path.
The 'Hedge'. Similar amount of panic but in slow-motion. Also known as target fixation. Take a corner, any corner, in my case a right hander on a narrow B road. Approach it at a speed you think is appropriate and tip in...I said tip in (that hedge sure looks close) ok looks like I'm going too fast for this corner (the size of that hedge!) right you've really messed this up now, you're going to abandon the turn and brake (Hedges grow so big don't they!!) Yes make those 1980s drum brakes work!! Hedge-Hedge-Brake-Brake....and skidded to a halt, off the road onto the dirt.
Had to compose myself after that one and gave myself a right bollocking, then I discovered the Twist of the Wrist video and started learning and practicing...... again.
One incident, and no longer on the XL, was out of my hands. Well strictly speaking I crashed and slid across a busy A road at 45mph. I put the blame on the CG, god I hated that bike, it had a kickback like a mule and it loved to pop out of gear just as I was overtaking something, Oh the embarrassment suffered whist I dropped back into their slipstream and took another 1/4 mile run-up. Also I later learned that tailgating can only be done during winter when ladies are almost fully covered and therefore not worth the distraction, never mind the parked cars. Yep, I almost crashed....but boy was she worth it.
The A road spill was also conducted in slow-mo. I turned in and the bike fell away. To this day I couldn't say for certain which tyre broke traction first. The tyres on the CG were old and hard, it was a cold foggy February morning and I remember sliding on my back whilst thinking to myself 'Well this slide is a long one' I was quite matter of fact. 'Yes, that's the CG sending up sparks' as it exits stage left. 'I'm slowing down...I'll stand up'. After 2 perfect forward rolls I spring to my feet look left and right and dash across to the bike. Haul it to the kerb and start laughing. You know what I said? 'What a Buzz!' Silly what people say during those kind of moments.
Clutch lever broken so had to bump it and get rough with the gearbox to get it back.
My belt was very tight during this time of life so I did another CBT. Hindsight again tells me this was the right decision formed by the size of my wallet. I'm not a born again rider. I'm a virgin rider who's wits are not as sharp as say a 20yr old, tough I may be but I'm not as bouncy. Much learnage was done but I lusted real hard dudes and dudettes.
Time passed quickly and before I knew it the CBT was due to expire, as was the insurance and tax. All within a day or so of each other.
I headed off to Stockport and passed the theory, got home and booked the practical. Cutting it fine I crammed as much practice in as possible.
Test day and I arrived early, the examiner was late and the roads wet. I'd woken up with a 'Do your best and fuck the rest attitude'. We head off.
'At the end of the road please turn right'
I turned left. My brain had operated the procedure perfectly but somehow forgotten the difference between L-R.
A nearby roundabout was used and we were back on the route and up to our first traffic lights which I sailed through as they changed. I'd read somewhere that making good progress was seen as being competent so I booted the shitty CG gearbox and wrung it's neck when we got into a 50 limit.
He caught up soon enough and directed me into a housing estate. We pulled over behind a parked car and he wanted me to set off as normal, then pull over where it's safe.
This was in readiness for the U turn which was completed without fuss. Next was the emergency stop. Once around the block and when you see me raise my arm please bring the motorcycle to a halt.
I zipped off, and again had read that you don't dilly-dally. I turned onto the road and booted up through 3 gears. In hindsight this wasn't needed as now I really had to brake...and I did...and I locked up the rear...so I let it off and just got it back on as I stopped.
I'd passed with a minor for a missed shouldercheck.
Now I seeked for power, it was presented to me in an unusual way whilst working with this chap. I recall being quite grumpy that morning and wasn't in the mood for pleasantries until during a break the talk somehow turned to bikes.
'You ride a bike don't you?' Yes, a Honda CG125. Then this chap chimed in. 'My son has a motorcycle, a 250..I'll bring in some pictures tomorrow'.
Sure enough he showed me the photos, it looked good. 'He sadly passed away some time ago and it's been sat in his shed for years' said Stuart......Then.......'We should sell it I suppose...How much do you think it's worth?'.
My estimation was honest, also it was out of my range. Stuart smiled that kind smile I have grown to know (We keep in touch) and he said if I made a generous donation to the Diabetes charity the bike was mine.
This bike would be perfect. A small but usable amount of power, they were used by the post office in the 80s and Stuart's son had fitted luggage racks during a brief time as a courier. Perfect for shopping, and the extra bhps combined with a full licence
allowed me to run my daughter about without borrowing a car.
We went everywhere we fancied. My daughter being the best type of pillion. I think she flatters my riding mainly because she trusts me and naturally reads and anticipates my input, although recently I did ignore her pleas to race a supersports 600 when lapping the IOM TT circuit.
The Honda CB250RS hadn't been started in over a decade and now I had it home it was time to see if it ran.
The air filter crumbled in my hands but apart from that it was a case of emptying the full but old tank of fuel, drain the carb and new brake fluid and a couple of liters of semi synthetic.
If I remember correctly it started on the 3rd kick using the original spark plug and ran perfectly.
The best thing about the CG....It sold instantly.
Little Red was fun-fun-fun. It loved being thrashed, it's pretty light and nimble and once I'd changed the fork springs, rear shocks, slapped on some BT45s it rewarded me with excellent handling.
I taught my daughter how to ride it...she fell off into some shrubs. Ahh just like her Dad she crashes with style.
It was built in 1980 and one of the first into the country. I know this as the son of the original owner searched me out via this fine forum and we pieced together the history.
The bike had belonged to his Mother and as I type this she may well be riding it around the Whitby area. Yes, I sold it back. It's where it belongs and getting used. I found over recent years that I wasn't riding Little Red as much, partly due to Big Red and also Little Red was a 35yr old bike and I'd started treating it with more care...like not riding it into woods or fields and the winters knock the stuffing out of bikes.
Phill gives me updates and as he's a mechanical engineer and possibly loves that CB250RSA more than me I know it'll have a great life there..Boo-hoo...sniff...sniff.
I'll tell you about the Ducati ST2.
My requirements were <2k, a tubular chassis, a twin and practical. I joined a few forums to help narrow down my choices.
Advertised in MCN and rode a few hours to view it. Cracking couple, the ST2 had been bought for her but she didn't get on with it. They made me snacks n brews and we chatted. The bike was in fine fettle and came with luggage. I laid down a deposit.
We met at Derby train station and soon I was the very very very proud owner of a start button. The brakes, the handling, the noise and let's not forget I've just made the step from 28bhp to 83bhp the big fuckoff smile was visible from space.
I booked in for my first ever lesson with an advanced instructor and thankfully I hadn't picked up too many bad habits. Generally had a good ride around Shropshire.
I briefly toyed with the idea of trackdays but I'm no racer as BCF members can attest to, although Blackwolf was surprised at my ability to stay with him. Cheeky little rideout that was. I recall being tucked in giving it the berries only to be blasted with dirt and dust as CHR15 went by on his turbo beast.
Besides, I have an addictive nature and time is tight with other distractions.
Pretty much upto date with one omission. The mighty Honda Vision was given to me and armed with a manual I repaired it in readiness for the MOT. I thought it might do for my daughter but she wisely turned it down in favour for driving lessons. It got minimal use so I passed it on.
It's like medicine.