This is not a travel book … not a biography, nor a book of social or historical commentary. This is a reflective record of a boisterous adventure of substance. Deep down, most young people want to jump on a motorbike and ride off into the sunset, to places unknown. Sadly, for most, these aspirations remain only dreams. Our protagonists lived out that dream. We all have pasts, just some are bigger and more excessive than others.Read More
Every year, at the beginning of January, the Nelson Classic Motorcycle Club in New Zealand puts on a two-day show in the Stoke Community Hall. This is always an interesting presentation of club-members’ bikes. I’ve been to a few over the years and never has the content been the same as the previous year. The organising committee makes an effort to maintain that variety. With the display being limited to about 75 bikes, it also it means there is plenty of room to view the bikes from all angles. This year’s show was an ideal opportunity for me to offer my book (No One Said It Would Be Easy) for sale. For what would seem to be an inconsequential event, it is always interesting to note the exotic and mundane mixed up and presented equally, with little to distinguish between them. This year was no exception and four bikes from the ‘six-figure’ range mixed with the ‘grey porridge’. It could be seen as an ‘equal opportunity’ show. For me it is a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones … and one of those new ones, I have to tell you about … because of the serendipitous nature of our relationship. Murray McLean (The owner of the Matchless Golden Eagle) and I both live two hours away in Golden Bay, so sleep in the hall on the Friday and Saturday nights ... providing security! On each night we were gifted a local member to share our beers and lies with. Friday night’s was Paul, an ex-army Brit. Now my book of course features Penelope, our reasonably rare Panther M120 from the obscure manufacturer Phelon and Moore, of the small Yorkshire town of Cleckheaton. So, when we’d locked-up, I stood admiring the sole Panther in the show. Paul was nearby and says “I grew up in Cleckheaton … we used to break into the old factory … dropping in through a skylight!” He went on to describe how all sorts of things still littered the place and on the shelves were even complete engines (his description put them as the Villiers twin-cylinder engines of the last 350s). Paul and his teenage oppos didn’t have the nouse to nick anything of value, or probably the ability to get it out through the skylight. They did however make off with a quantity of badges. Years later, at a ‘Festival of 1,000 bikes’ Paul saw a Panther Owners’ stand and handed over badges to them. Probably saved them from the wrecking ball.
I reckon Kahuku has landed the big one here. Well-known and respected motorcycling writer George Lockyer has decided that his third book should be under our wing. How great is that? In conjunction with Jess Kelly of The Design Dept of Ballarat, Australia … collaboratively and collegially we will bring you another interesting book. This is of George’s adventures riding his Kawasaki KLR Percy (no jokes about pointing to the porcelain please) around Australia interviewing interesting characters and famous people in his usual entertaining style. So watch this space! There are those who would have concluded this arrangement via a video-call, but in the spirit of the book-to-be, George and I each rode about 300 kms to meet at The Store in Kekerengu. Roadworks on the way meant we were both late, and then found that the internet was down, so I couldn’t show George magic stuff from my ‘cloud’ which I had intended to … but we coffee’d and brunched satisfactorily, before heading off in opposite directions. It probably looked like a drug-drop.
Wow, so what a day! The weather Goddess was extremely kind and the day was a stunner. Ultimately 55 motos lined up in our top paddock for the ride-in motorcycle show. BMWs bumbled in … in their inimitable way. Several Triumphs rattled in, with their tappets gently clattering, three Honda CT110 ‘Postie’ bikes and two mopeds (Mobylette and DKW Hummel) upheld the ‘tiddlers’ reputation. It was real United Nations gathering with bikes from Russia, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, India, Britain, USA and Japan. There were singles, twins, triples and fours … two stroke and four stroke, a real cornucopia for those of us who love anything with two or three wheels. Soon there was a paddock full of beards and leather jackets. An Auckland friend thought it looked like a ZZ Top convention. I didn’t spot Richard Thompson’s ‘Red hair, black leather … my favourite colour scheme’, but we did pretty much everything else.