Mark’s trip to London on the Moto Guzzi includes an unscheduled stop for rest and recuperation during the homeward trip...
Mike’s Yamaha TDR frustrates, while Mark’s Guzzi expires
Having stumped up the courage to remove the Guzzi’s spark plugs, I discovered the threads in the head weren’t knackered, as I’d suspected. With a new pair of sparklers gapped and fitted, the engine ran sweeter than it had for some time, prompting a spurt of two-wheeled activity, including successful weekly commutes.
I also resolved to visit my mate Wag in London. I hadn’t seen him for years and the bike seemed the ideal mode of transport to bodyswerve the traffic and the capital’s congestion charge. When I heard of an event called the Classic Car Boot Sale in the King’s Cross area, the date was set. I’d ride down from Leicestershire to King’s Cross, check out the Bootie and then ride down to my mate’s place in Wandsworth for a night of boozy nostalgia, yarning and vinyl-spinning. Perfect. And life was indeed perfect as the Guzzi throbbed away down the A5. But then we hit the city – and at the first set of traffic lights, the Guzzi started to get grumpy. By the time I reached the car boot sale, any riding pleasure had long been forgotten – the engine was complaining like a black cab driver asked to cross the river after midnight and I was having to slip the clutch like crazy.
Luckily, the Classic Car Boot Sale provided welcome relief. A laid-back event in Granary Square, in the buffed-up environs north of King’s Cross station, the vibe was summed up by the oldschool reggae booming from the sound system mounted upstairs in a Routemaster bus. I nestled the Guzzi alongside the bikes on the display by motorcycle store Bolt London and wandered around the stalls selling vintage clothes and bric-a-brac, with classic cars and bikes dotted between them. In fact, if you fancy displaying your bike at the next Classic Car Boot Sale in April, contact the organisers at: email@example.com – they’re keen to get more motorcycles involved.
Sadly, the trip to Wandsworth was less pleasant, punctuated by rain, massive clutch slip, losing my way, an unscheduled stop and enforced bump-starting. A big backfire a few doors away from my mate’s place announced my arrival… and the Guzzi coasted to a halt. But at least it had got me there – I could forget about trying to get the bike fit for the return trip until the next morning. Sunday had long dawned by the time I approached the Guzzi, which refused any inducement to start, apart from being jumpstarted off Wag’s Mini. I headed home, with hope in my heart. I headed for the A3 and the dreaded M25 clockwise; it was clogged, the bike didn’t feel good… and then the engine died and we coasted to a halt on the hard shoulder just before junction 17. Time to call for recovery, which resulted in a two-stage relay back home. Stage one was in a van to Newport Pagnall. Stage two involved the Guzzi being rolled onto a huge flatbed on an ingenious rolling dolly fitted to the front wheel, followed by a convivial chat with the driver, a full-on petrolhead. I always find you meet some lovely people when you break down – it’s all part of owning a classic. So, as I finally wheeled the Guzzi into my garage at 6.45pm, it wasn’t with a sense of disappointment, it was with a conspiratorial grin, a pat on the tank and the satisfaction that we’d got through another scrape together.
Left to right: Mark, Wag and partner Sarah with prejump-start Guzzi
Time for the Guzzi to let the dolly take the strain
This Moto Guzzi T3 has been in the grasp of our production editor for three years. Last time he reported on it, he was having trouble with the plugs...