Firstly, I joined BAM in 2012 after watching a series on Blood Bikes and after ringing Midland Freewheelers I was told I needed an advanced motorcycle qualification although I have held an advanced car qualification since 1994, but more on this later.
My earliest recollection of being interested in two wheeled motorised transport is when I was about 11 years old my father bought a Lambretta, he had had bikes since his teens but this was the first I had experienced such things, all was fine on our inaugural ride until I remember thinking at the first corner with those tiny little wheels we were going to fall off, I suppose it was my first experience of one of those moments Marcus preaches about when your two posterior cheeks become that bit tighter and that strange noise emanates (as Marcus says with pouted lips). We survived and after a while my father changed the Lambretta for a Honda CD175 now this seemed to be the muts nuts at that age.
By the age of 15 my interest in bikes had been well and truly sealed and it just so happened my cousin who was slightly older than me was selling his FS1E, after a blast round the old quarry that was at the end of our road the deal was done, now my birthday being the 1st of January meant my moped riding started at the best time of the year all togged up in my Belstaff coat and some form of leather gloves and an open face helmet I was off my independence was here, although as we were living in Bath at the time a 50 cc moped was great downhill but coming back up was sometimes at a walking pace. It wasn’t long until my cornering skills succumbed to some loose gravel and I found myself on the tarmac, but with no one around and only my pride slightly dented I got up picked the bike up and set off again.
I enjoyed the little bike for a while then as you do Looking around a nice little RD 50 caught my eye, Well say no more the FS1E was out of favour and the new shiny RD was in. this was more of a man’s bike than the pedal power FS1E or so I thought at the time, this bike lasted me until I was 17 then I ran a 125 for a while and whilst at college my mate said use my kwaker 250 get your test done, in those days it was the quick trip around the block and try not to run the examiner over when he jumped out in front of you, it just so happened I had to pull up rather quickish for some other idiot so it was throw away the L plates.
After buying a sized up 125, rebuilding the engine and having it bored out to its maximum, a XS 400 was on the scene for a while then cars seem to take over and the introduction of wife number who was not keen on motorcycles kind of killed my motorcycling off for 10 years.
In 2000 with divorce settled what did I do? yep you guessed it bought another bike, as a good mate of mine was in Bristol IAM and a Rospa instructor he helped test out a Suzuki GSF600F ideal get back on bike I thought, and yep after some good ride outs at the time to Pool Harbour and other south west bike meets the bike bug was really back, even the new other half was into biking wow what a win win situation, we even had a couple next door with a GSXR 1100 so days out to Weymouth in the summer were great fun.
In 2001 my then wife was pregnant so she gave up the biking lark and I thought time for an upgrade, so on the day my wife and new son were due to come out of hospital I was in Bristol collecting my B2 ZX9R, all prepped in the special race colour’s from a garage in Plymouth who raced and sold some road bikes in the same colour scheme, so it made it somewhat different, but wow what a difference from the GSXF, a bit of a heavy beast around town but on the open road what a machine. At the time the acceleration seemed phenomenal and it had one of those cans on the back that some words about road legal, never really understood that!! Now I must admit this bike is the quickest I have been on a motorcycle and at 69 mph ish, it was still going when I decided the A303 was going past rather quickly and things could hurt.
Now whilst on holiday in Fuerteventura I had a day out around the island with a very interesting English guy who when he lived in the UK taught Carl Fogarty to ride a road bike so that he could pass his test as although he could race he didn’t have a road license, this guy ran a motorcycle hire and excursion business on the island and we had a day out riding around the mountains and beaches it was great and I really got the bug for endure riding.
So yes you guessed it when we got back to the UK the search was on, I could not believe at the time how hard it was to buy a trials type Bike, but I did a Suzuki TS 250 2 stroke with big nobly tyres, boy they were fun.
Sadly in 2003 a nice female car driver decided she didn’t like the colour scheme and I spent 4 days in BATH Royal United Hospital following a 3 hour operation to rebuild my left shoulder and upper arm which took 3 months of physio to get working again, not the best way to spend a Sunday evening!
So my biking days were curtailed for a few years, but after a move to Lincolnshire with work I needed some transport as we were back to one car, the TS wasn’t really the bike for a lot of road riding those nobly tyres really weren’t ideal on tarmac it made cornering somewhat special, so I managed somehow to persuade the wife that another motorcycle was the best solution, I picked up a cheap trade in Yamaha XJ600 Diversion, it was a bit rough around the edges but a bit of work had it running and it reliably ferried me about for work and a bit of social riding again it even travelled to Bristol with us after another move for work.
At the end of 2008 after we had sold virtually everything and opted for a move to Bulgaria which didn’t really turn out the way we expected we found ourselves living in Hall Green, so come 2010 with a bit of time on my hands and biking in the blood I bought a rundown Virago 250 Route 66 as a restoration project, this turned out to be a bit more than expected due to the No 2 big end bearings disintegrating on me the day after it passed the MOT and became a complete strip back to the frame, a resprayed frame , resprayed mudguards panels and a rebuilt engine. Once this was complete I moved onto a BMW K100, this had been stored for a number of years but after a thorough service/new oils and a new battery, some body work repairs it was up and running.
It was with the K100 that I joined BAM and started my advanced training after being allocated Graham Hay as my Observer, which was great for me as Sunday was ideal for me to get out on the runs, I came second in my First BAM bash event on the Beamer but the realisation that I wasn’t going to do a lot of touring by 2013 I had swapped the Virago and the k100 for a Suzuki 1200 Bandit, this bike got me through my advanced test and over four years taken me on some great BAM tours and numerous rid outs, full members runs and other Bam events, but at the end of 2017 I couldn’t resist the lour of a new Honda Africa Twin what a great bike.
So this brings me full circle and in my wanting to give back to the club I was the first member of the committee that was a non-full member and as an associate I was the guest speaker organiser for a couple of years before taking up the Web site and Social media position, as well as completing my goal in 2016 of joining Midland Freewheelers and help supporting that tremendous good cause they do I have gained my IMI qualification to be a BAM local Observer. Keep riding to the system and be safe.