Thursday, January 15, 2009

Harking back

It doesn't really do an good to wallow in things past, but just for a moment or two I'm going to do just that.

I started riding motorbikes when I was seventeen; in those days it was still perfectly legal to buy a 250cc machine, stick an L-plate on the back and ride off into the sunset. Many did just that and were never seen with their limbs in the right order again.

I couldn't afford such a luxury as a 250 of any vintage, and got by on a series of smaller and seriously less exciting rides: a C90 (how uncool was that at seventeen?), a Yamaha YB100 (remember them? Horrid little two stroke jobbies, there's one in the shot below), an MZ125....
It wasn't until my "between marriages" period in 1997-8 that I finally had both the time and the money to get into larger steeds.
I started with a GT550 (above) which I took to Bandol for the glorious Bol d'Or 24 hour race meeting in September 1997. After writing that one off and a short period in the Bristol Royal Infirmary with a busted elbow, I figured the best best would be to get a bigger and faster machine. I ended up with a Yamaha XJ900 (below). 'Ere long I was upside down in a hedge after failing to impress as a racing demon and the lovely big shaft-driven monster was so much wreckage on the roadside. This was getting expensive; I retired temporarily from the ranks of ride-like-a-twat bikers, and found myself obliged to get a car. Bah!

Then I met Mrs The Millbrooker, and together we bought "The Beast"; at this point it seemed sensible to stop riding like the proverbial twat and try to make this machine last, especially as we were meant to be going on honeymoon upon its lovely comfybum® seat.

The Beast was (still is somewhere, I guess) a Honda CBR1000F - affectionately known amongst bikers as the flying fridge. 125 horses, top whack in the ballpark of 155mph, 0-60 in around 4 seconds, rolling acceleration 80 to 110 in about the same.
To cut a very long reminisce a teensy bit short, we eventually washed up in Millbrook (as everyone does), complete with "Beast". We met up with some local reprobates, including Shazzerooneypoos and her then housemate Strats, who claimed to have never been on a bike. Cue one offer of a ride out from yours truly. This is me on the front and Strats perched behind just before the off:
The story has gone down into Millbrookian legend. I took Strats on the back up through Crafthole and onto the A374; he turned out to be a great pillion - he's not a big bloke and he never moved a muscle. We took the wonderful bend by the owl sanctuary with an exit speed of around 65(ish) and headed on through Polbathic to Trerulefoot. At the roundabout I twisted around and asked if Strats felt ok. He did. I asked if he wanted to see what the bike was capable of. He did. I think we hit some highly illegal speeds in the dual carriageway and arrived in Liskeard in the blinking of an eye; I about-turned and we did much the same on the way back. The exit speed on "favourite bend" by the Owl Sanctuary was bit quicker than on the way out and we arrived back at Shazzerooneypoos' eyrie with adrenalin pumping.Strats marched into the kitchen and said "Sharon - we're selling the car!"

Needless to say, they did no such thing - but he'd clearly had a whale of a time; so had I.

I need to say thank you to Shazzerooneypoos for digging out the photos of Strats and me on The Beast and delivering them onto the Millbrooker Towers doormat this morning. Which is what triggered this wallow in nostalgia in the first place.

If they ever find a cure for my eye condition, I'll be unpacking the leathers and contacting the shiny-bike shop immediately.

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