FROM THE FRONT
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?