FROM THE FRONT

Real Classic - - News - Frank West­worth Frank@realclas­sic.net

Some­times it’s good to re­mem­ber one of the lesser de­lights of mo­tor­bicy­cling the old bike way. As well as all that fab­u­lous ma­chin­ery (there’s a Nim­bus in this is­sue, for heaven’s sake) and all those op­por­tu­ni­ties to ride a favourite ma­chine to a favourite place to meet up with favourite peo­ple – or sim­ply to en­joy the ride and the soli­tude – as well as all those, there is the gen­tle es­capism of it all. The last twelve­month has pre­sented us with some truly strange, re­mark­able and even bizarre ac­tiv­i­ties out there in the real world, and I for one find it re­fresh­ing and re­lax­ing to sim­ply switch off all the re­al­ity from time to time.

While all around you are go­ing a lit­tle bonkers – or at least while they ap­pear to be do­ing that – I find it in­creas­ingly ex­cel­lent to en­gage in a de­bate about which oils to use in our bikes. Whether the shift back from solid state ig­ni­tions to trad points is even log­i­cal. Whether any of the mys­te­ri­ous po­tions of­fered to make mod­ern fu­els more old bike friendly ac­tu­ally do any­thing. And why Ve­lo­cette clutches?

I was con­vers­ing with a friend the other day, ex­press­ing my amaze­ment at some of the very pub­lic an­tics of very pub­lic peo­ple, and I made a sort-of joke about it. My friend’s pol­i­tics are nowhere near my own – which are best kept quiet in po­lite com­pany – and I was ex­pect­ing a pithy re­sponse. In­stead I was treated to a lengthy con­sid­er­a­tion of the hid­den joys of gar­den­ing (very well hid­den from me, it should be said) and the sug­ges­tion that I should fol­low sev­eral – an alarm­ing pro­por­tion – of my friends into re­tire­ment. That shut me up.

Gar­den­ing ap­pears to of­fer many of the same plea­sures as mo­tor­cy­cling. End­less op­por­tu­ni­ties for lengthy and stren­u­ous out­door haul­ing and maul­ing, an end­less va­ri­ety of … well … plants to con­sider in the same way that I might con­sider tyres, or cap­head screws. Throw in tools and pro­tec­tive all-weather cloth­ing and – golly! – it’s the same thing just slower. Most mow­ers be­ing slower than most bikes. Mostly.

The other great sim­i­lar­ity is that gar­den­ing of­fers the same es­capism, the same op­por­tu­nity for ob­ses­sion, for anorak and ar­cane lev­els of knowl­edge on ob­scure sub­jects, while al­low­ing the trowel-wielder the same quiet ac­com­plish­ment as the most fer­vent span­ner-flinger. I was al­most tempted.

Un­til an­other friend started ques­tion­ing my taste in guitars. As I hope you would ex­pect, my taste in guitars is as re­fined and con­sid­ered as my taste in mo­tor­cy­cles, but my friend dis­agrees with both. What does he know?

And so it is pos­si­ble to ig­nore for a while the gen­uinely im­por­tant things in life, con­cen­trat­ing in­stead on the more re­ward­ing. As the say­ing goes:

Grant me the seren­ity to ac­cept the things I can­not change, Courage to change the things I can, And wis­dom to know the dif­fer­ence.

It is pos­si­ble that Rein­hold Niebuhr was con­sid­er­ing BSA ig­ni­tion sys­tems, but then again…

Ride safely!

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