At the turn of the century I was spending my weekends trail riding in Shropshire and Herefordshire but mostly over the border in the Welsh Mountains where rules covering where you could ride weren’t so strict. I would meet my mates here in Church Stretton where I once lived and head off to wherever the mood and trails would take us. It was possible to ride all the way out to the Cardigan Bay coastline seventy miles away with barely a sight of a tarred road.
Sometimes on top of the Welsh Mountains there were no trails – usually by that time we were hopelessly lost. The bogs are deep up there and at times it would take the five of us bollock-deep in mud and glaur to lift our big bikes onto decent going when someone got really stuck.
No tiny Serows or purpose built 250 two-stroke CRM’s for us back then and the Orange KTM’s which were later to rule the off-road world were in their infancy. Three of us had Yamaha XT 600’s – a mix of electric start – kickstart and one from the Italian market with both. I remember a lumpy kickstart Suzuki DR350 and will never forget Brian’s 750 V Twin Honda. It was a big fuel tank shafty – basically a road bike – it had arrived in the UK overland from Oz – hard to stay with on dry trails – but – hard to stay on in the wet. We are talking Wales here – where it’s almost always WET!
Five lads falling about laughing while carrying that red hot Big Mamma through the bogs are still high in my list of ‘best motorcycling memories’. I think they call it ‘Team Bonding’ these days – whatever – it was Fun!
Well that’s the boots emptied after mis-judging the depth of a pool on the old Drover’s Road running south out of the Elan Valley.It certainly ‘found out’ my new bakelite NGK plug cap when my trusty XT stalled mid-stream. It wasn’t long before I reverted to the original rubber plug cap.
Now for the rest of me —
No worries – there were some dry days in Wales and here’s blue skies over Snowdonia to prove it —
OK – this Sunday I am on taxi duty for her that must be obeyed and had better toddle – changed days I know – but – here’s an ‘arty’ shot through my BMW R100GS front wheel taken on top of the Berwyns to be going on with —
and the whole bike —
She was too ‘agricultural’ for me and I didn’t keep her long – although she did look good posed for pics under my old mill wheel and beautiful climbing rose —
By ‘agricultural’ I mean a notchy gearbox that was full of nuetrals – I suppose I was spoiled by this time after riding Japanese bikes. The Beemer was reminiscent of the old British bikes I had ridden in my youth – only rougher.
I had bought her from-a-distance on American ebay and planned to ride her across America coast-to-coast – Bar Harbor – Maine – across the Rockies to Oregon – turn right and ride all the way to Alaska where I had a buyer for the GS. A torn pelvis necessitating a hospital stay and subsequent heavy drug abuse (prescribed I hasten to add) to subdue the pain put the kybosh on that idea. Here she is heading for New Jersey in the course of being shipped to the UK from the State of Michigan – USofA.
Seems my story has veered from my Trail Riding days – it happens in a lifetime of biking that has taken me all around the world and gone from riding farm bikes to trials bikes to road bikes and back to trials before going racing for a few years then Rider Training followed by a return to trail and road bikes.
For the moment I’m resigned to writing about them – but – it’s only about five weeks to the shortest day of the year which is much more important than Christmas Day – I just haven’t told her yet 🙂
There was a time when I rode fifty two weeks of the year but age and everything that goes with it has had it’s effect – no worries – when we hit the shortest day – bike riding season is just around the corner and I’m sure to have something useful parked at the door by then.