FROM THE FRONT
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…