Bed­stead man­ner

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN -

I was very pleased to see the King Ed­ward Park ar­ti­cle with the pho­to­graph of John Dun­scombe’s “Fly­ing Bed­stead” in OBA 59. As his pas­sen­ger, on this oc­ca­sion, my mem­o­ries of John and his ma­chines are vivid and undi­min­ished by ei­ther time or age. When my fa­ther told me that Norm Greedy was think­ing of re­tir­ing – as John’s long-term pas­sen­ger – I ca­su­ally said that I could be in­ter­ested. Ap­par­ently he took me at my word, as a few weeks be­fore the last (1967) hill climb my fa­ther an­nounced that Norm had parted and that I should be early for the Satur­day prac­tice at the forth­com­ing Oran Park meet­ing, as John had en­tered me for both Oran Park and King Ed­ward Park as his pas­sen­ger. Rid­ing with John was al­ways an ad­ven­ture. On this first oc­ca­sion, at Oran Park, his old ex­am­bu­lance trans­porter broke down and he ar­rived on the Sun­day, only 15 min­utes be­fore the Ju­nior Side­car race started. This did not al­low much time for ‘dry runs’ as I had never been on any side­car be­fore and the climb over the front wheel of the Bed­stead, for right-han­ders, was a lit­tle daunt­ing and al­most gym­nas­tic. But the ride was ex­hil­a­rat­ing. Un­til then – as a solo rider – I had no idea of how sen­sa­tional the speed seemed, when so close to the ground. It was only af­ter­wards that I re­alised – from my aching mus­cles – that I had been hold­ing on far too tightly, and dis­cov­ered an alarm­ing tyre burn on the side of my Cromwell hel­met. I know there was much (mostly ‘of­fi­cial’) crit­i­cism of John’s de­sign of the Bed­stead – your OBA ar­ti­cle de­scribes it as “in­fa­mous” – but I think it was a work of ge­nius. On a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, I was able to wit­ness its sta­bil­ity: once weav­ing smoothly through a mul­ti­ple crash in the first long, left-han­der on the old Oran Park cir­cuit. I won­der if any reader also saw it ex­e­cute a 180 de­gree spin, with­out any top­pling, on the King Ed­ward Park ‘Shell Cor­ner’ hair­pin in 1967 (I ‘sort of’ missed that one as I was fo­cused on the ground at the time).

It was cer­tainly more plea­sur­able to ride on than John’s con­ven­tional Se­nior HRD Vin­cent side­car. It was a brute; es­pe­cially at the clockwise Ama­roo Park cir­cuit. I al­ways got off ‘deaf and drunk’ there, af­ter 5 laps of hang­ing with my head in its mega­phone. I am sorry that John never ex­changed that mo­tor for the 500cc Vin­cent Comet in the Bed­stead. He cer­tainly thought about it. John’s pass­ing has lost one of mo­tor­cy­cling’s most in­ge­nious and colour­ful char­ac­ters. To be hon­est though, my ‘hero’ of the 1967 Hill Climb will re­main to be Jack Pearce. Jack had suf­fered a very painful back in­jury just be­fore the event and had his friends lift him onto his side­car for each ride. Mo­tor­cy­cling has been the ma­jor pas­sion of my fam­ily, now, for four gen­er­a­tions (as my son Chris and his son, Beau, will attest). So thank you for a mar­vel­lous mag­a­zine that al­lows me – among your many other read­ers – to re­call, re­vive and re-live a lit­tle of those won­der­fully noisy, puls­ing, rat­tling, some­times nasty, oil­stained and of­ten painful days of our youth.

Robert Ral­ston Ka­toomba, NSW

Robert Ral­ston on his brand new 250cc Mk3 Du­cati at the 1966 King Ed­ward Park hill climb.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.