Back Street Heroes
REMINISCING – MEMORIES OF THE DISREPUTABLE YEARS OF BIKING
Agood few years back, some time in the late 1990s, in the days when Streetfighters magazine was a thing, they had a couple of staff bikes – a ZX-7R, and a ZX-9R. I’d not ridden a Nine and so, one weekend when I had a visit to Chris Ireland’s Great Yarmouth workshop planned, I borrowed it, and headed down from The Towers in Manchester to the sticky-out bit of the country that is East Anglia.
I stayed that night with mates in Newmarket, and the next morning, early, set off for Chris’ place. Having lived in the east for a good few years prior to (and after too) joining BSH, I knew some of the roads quite well, and’d planned to head up the A11 to Norwich, then along the A47 to Yarmouth, ’cos I knew I’d be able to give the Kwak its head on a section of the A11 along which there’re no junctions or turnings to allow myopic shagwits to pull out on a speeding bike from.
Passing the last roundabout at Attleborough, the speed crept up and, as soon as I reached the right section of concrete two-lane dual-carriageway, I ducked down behind the screen, and nailed it. The speedo and the rev-counter both climbed skywards, and before long the Kwak’d topped out at an indicated 187. Quite satisfied with that, I backed off the throttle, and settled down to an 80mph cruise, slowing a few miles later for the A47 roundabout.
As I approached it, just under the posted 70mph limit, I saw that the road was crawling with police in hi-vis directing cars off the main carriageway, obviously having caught them speeding with a radar trap. I thought to meself smugly, ‘I’m fine, I’ve been under the limit for the last couple o’ miles’, but to my surprise they waved me in too. Slightly confused, I followed the Aged William’s instructions, and pulled up in front of two officers of Her Majesty’s constabulary.
“Good morning, sir,” said the younger of the two, probably twenty years his oppo’s junior, “you were going a bit fast, weren’t you?”
“Err, no, I don’t think so,” I said.
“We got you at 124.9,” said the officer with a slight smile on his face, while the older one glowered at me from under his peaked cap. “There was a radar trap a few miles back.”
“Oh,” I said, annoyed, but thankful at the same time that it hadn’t been a little further back than that ’cos in those days anything over 150mph was a pretty much guaranteed three-month solitary holiday at Her Royal Highness’ expense.
As matey started filling in the relevant paperwork, with his mate still glowering beside him, he casually remarked: “If it’s any consolation, you’re not the fastest we’ve had through here today.”
Knowing that I was already looking at a ban anyway (anything over the ton was an instant ban), I made a joke of it. “Giss another ten minutes, I’ll have another go…”
At this, the older guy, probably in his late 50s, absolutely exploded with rage. Honestly, he really lost the plot, calling me every (non-sweary) name under the sun. He really was absolutely apoplectic – spittle formed at the corners of his mouth, and flew from his lips, and he genuinely started to go a funny sort o’ red colour. His younger partner tried to calm him, but he wasn’t having any of it, and continued ranting, getting more and more worked up until, suddenly, he made a sort of ‘gnurrk’ noise, and clutched at his chest.
‘F**k me,’ I thought, ‘this “ladies’ front bottoms”s having a heart attack!’ Christ, I’m going to get had up for f**king manslaughter if he does, as well as speeding!’
Younger matey was doing his best to calm his incandescent older colleague, telling him to calm down, and directing him back towards their car so that he could sit down, while other gentlemen in blue serge looked up, and started walking over to see what all the fuss was. “I’ve finished the paperwork,” the younger copper said, turning to me. “I think you’d better piss off now, don’t you?”
“Yes, officer, I will, officer. Thank you,” I said, and hopped back on the Kwak, and made off sharpish.