FROM THE FRONT

Real Classic - - What Lies Within - Frank West­worth Frank@realclas­sic.net

We were taken to task by a fine fel­low who ob­jected to our sug­ges­tion that few rid­ers use their el­derly mo­tor­cy­cles for commuting. In fact … not a sin­gle one of my rid­ing bud­dies who still com­mutes to work does so on a bike more than fif­teen years old. Strange but pos­si­bly true. They’d deny it, ob­vi­ously.

But I fell to think­ing. Our cor­re­spon­dent, Phil B – whose let­ter should ap­pear next month be­cause we ran out of space at the last minute – still uses his own pair of old bikes for pretty much ev­ery­thing. Great bikes, too. And his mail re­minded me that just be­cause I per­son­ally don’t com­mute – RCHQ is in our home – and be­cause al­most all my rid­ing pals down here ap­pear to lead lives of re­tired lux­ury or com­mute on mod­ern ma­chines, it is silly to make a sweep­ing state­ment. So I apol­o­gise for that! I shall beat my­self up with The Pit­man Book of the Ve­lo­cette LE.

All of which flashed through my mind while I was sit­ting down to write up the rather fetch­ing red Tri­umph you can find else­where in this is­sue. My first thought – and prob­a­bly an un­wor­thy thought – was that no one tours on old bikes any more. Which is not true, al­though it is a very long time since I’ve seen pre-2000 mo­tor­cy­cles laden with lug­gage cruis­ing the At­lantic High­way. But just be­cause I’ve not seen them doesn’t mean that they’re not out there. And only a cou­ple of days ago, while Rowena and my­self were en­joy­ing a brisk stomp around part of the SW Coast Path, we were stopped in our tracks by a hail from a cheery cou­ple who’d stopped off while tour­ing and had won­dered whether they’d spot us out and about in Bude. Which they did. Re­mark­able! Great to meet them, and to swap tall sto­ries. RC read­ers are al­ways en­ter­tain­ing!

And their bike? A late 1990s Gold­Wing, just about the per­fect clas­sic tour­ing ma­chine in the views of many. Looked re­ally well, too. Also com­fort­able. Se­ri­ously com­fort­able.

Rid­ing the red Tri­umph, with its ex­cel­lent and stylish Ro­dark pan­niers, was a fine ex­pe­ri­ence, and of course I asked my­self whether I’d go tour­ing again on an old bike if I had one like this. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the ride, the an­swer was a de­ter­mined Yes! By the time I sat down to write the story I’d mod­i­fied that yes to sub­sti­tute a Com­mando In­ter­state for the Tri­umph Speed Twin, and then I went com­pletely re­vi­sion­ist and de­cided that in fact I com­pletely en­joy the lit­tle tour­ing I seem to have time for aboard the un­men­tion­able Amer­i­can twin I men­tioned (briefly) last month.

But if I had a Tri­umph like that tourist twin I’d cer­tainly tour on it, wouldn’t I? In fact … I don’t think I would. I thought some more, mostly while won­der­ing where to mount the ig­ni­tion switch on the BSA project. Dis­trac­tions are al­ways wel­come when fet­tling, don’t you find?

Then I sat down to read through Nick Adams’ lat­est ac­count of Cana­dian high­way ad­ven­tures and de­cided that if I had a Guzzi like Nick’s I’d tour ev­ery day, ev­ery sin­gle day. Noth­ing would keep me from the sad­dle. En­thu­si­asm is al­ways in­fec­tious. And that’s what counts. We change our bikes as and when the time seems right, and we change the kind of rid­ing we do. But what is a con­stant is the en­thu­si­asm for rid­ing. And that’s what counts. Or… have I got that wrong, too?

Ride safely

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