In The Spotlight
The year was 1978. I had left school and secured my dream job as a Trainee Hotel Manager. Only two questions remained. Firstly, how does a 16 year old travel to a job that has potential to start a shift at 07.00am or end at 04.00am? Secondly, Mum, can I buy a moped?
Much deleted expletive and I was off to see an old family friend in Peter Vale-Onslow down Stratford Road. Having signed my life away on a Lombard Credit agreement I was given the keys to a shiny blue Suzuki AP50 followed by the famous learner speech (which has since been replaced by a one day CBT course) “One down and off you go.” Thanks Peter. More by luck than judgement I managed to get back to Sutton Coldfield in one piece. Somewhere along the A34 or the A38 began a lifelong love affair with Motorbikes. A couple of my mates from school also had 50’s and we rode those peds all over the place. One night, following a clutch failure I was towed back from South Birmingham with my Villa scarf attaching me to JJ’s Honda SS50. Lightening reflexes were called for as I was only about 18 inches behind him when we started out. I thought I was getting better at close formation riding until I realised my Scarf was now about 5 feet longer than when we started. Instantly a Suzuki boy I went through a half a dozen including an 1100 Katana (should have kept that one) and a GSXR1100 powered Moto Martin (should have kept that one as well). In those early years we went to the TT when the boats were really exciting, not like those posh things they use now. I can still remember trying to look confident riding down a spiral metal ramp, impregnated with years of BSA oil leaks and moistened with a little Irish Sea spray. Back brake use begins here! In the early 80’s we did the South of France riding a well used GL1000 Gold Wing, camping in a tiny tent and marvelling how cheap wine and beer could be. Back in Brum we ran around as only 20 year olds can thinking we were the next Barry Sheene.
By the early 90’s work, and a marriage put an end to my bike riding for about 8 years. After that I found myself newly single and became a born again with an old CBR600 steely. I loved that little bike even though it was rattle can black with pink bullet holes. It was quickly followed a Fireblade, the fox eye RRT, which was on another planet compared to anything I had previously owned. I lived in Glasgow at that time and the bike was just superb on the smooth, fast flowing roads of Scotland. I came back to Brum in 2003 and celebrated with my first ever brand new bike, a Suzuki GSXR1000K3. About that time I bought into a Bikemedic franchise. That was an awful business decision but it did introduce me to some great new mates and I came to BAM for the first time as a guest speaker. I painted a few race bikes and also pit crewed for Dave Stewardson as Team Bones. I painted some lovely bikes for Dave and he relentlessly crashed and bashed them. He won the EMRA road stock championship with my logos on the bike. The other racer I sponsored, Mark Jones, never put a scratch on his 250 GP Honda with my logos on as he lapped the Isle of Man at over 100 mph. Proud moments for me, although I wish I could ride a bike the way these boys did!
I eventually joined BAM on a deal at the bike show and was allocated Lester Phelps as my Observer. I was quickly christened Baldric because of how poor my cunning planning was!
Joining the club certainly changed the way I think about my bike riding and there is no doubt that it has improved over the years. I first became a Local Observer and was asked to join the RoadSmart Skills Day Team where I now present the theory for the Intermediate Group. Since then I’ve qualified as a National Observer, gained my Masters with a distinction and have joined the Committee as Regalia and Welfare and more recently to help look after the Training / Observer aspects of the club. If you want to know anything about what we are doing, or have ideas about how we could do it better please get in touch. I would say to anyone who has recently joined or recently passed the Advanced Test, get out and do the additional training days that the club offers. I had great times doing the BAM Bash, one off overtaking, roundabout or other focus days and I did the Wales Weekend twice and loved it all, making lasting friendships and becoming a better rider in the process. For a day job these days I have been qualified for about 8 years as a CBT and DAS instructor and can also be found on the Register of Post Test Motorcycle Trainers, all under the DVSA banner.
I am currently riding an S1000RR which has had so much written about it I can’t really add anything other than it is the most brilliant motorcycle I have ever owned and I get to ride it with some great people!