Life is not rehearsal.
You get one chance, you can’t go back and change the year, month, week, day, time.
Once something has happened, it is gone. You learn from it.
1976, on a hot summer night, life as a seventeen year old was as bad as it could be.
I fired up the Yamaha DT175 to burn some rubber, and just for spite I went on my dad’s pride and joy – his lawn. Twice. Just to make a mess.
I then went down the road, up through the gears.
The roads were very quiet, so when the lights turned to red I took that chance. It made my world even worse than it already was.
You’re in Stockport Royal Infirmary. Doctors and nurses are caring for you, asking how it happened. You are the only one that knows.
Not having respect for the engine nearly ended my life. My first real lesson on life’s journey.
2005, aged 50, my mate suggested I get a bike. I told him I wasn’t sure as I had nearly died years ago.
I reflected that back then had been a lad and thought I knew everything. Now I am older with life experience, knowledge and wisdom.
I had still learned the biggest lesson of my life – to respect a machine, big or small. Anything that can travel at speed or cut a tree in half, mix your bread or just drill through a bit of wood – it can all inflict damage to the human body.
Although I was bald as a coot, I still needed that thrill of the wind blowing across my No1.
The feeling of being free, looking over the hills as the sun goes down, cruising along with Brain Damage by Floyd ringing out inside your helmet.
The Bikes 2005 – 2012
Passing my test, I went on a journey that saw five Motorbikes and two Sidecar Outfits.
My adventures included travelling 900 miles in a day to Germany and camping next to the Mohne Dam where 617 Squadron attacked in 1943, bursting the amazing structure and flooding villages and factory installations.
I also went to Scotland wild camping next to Loch Linnhe, sitting on a summers night with a real fire burning listening to Clannad Harrys Game from my then very basic xpeaker. Waking up packing up and heading off to the next location.
For some reaso,n I always loved chrome.
The joy of sitting for four hours listening to the Bowie album ‘Ziggy Stardust’ whilst I polished my bike.
But wild camping required finding woods off a road and pitching an Army bivi. Chrome does not go with trees and woods – it meant getting something a bit more practical.
BMW GS Series
The GS bike was the make I went for, owning three in four years.
These bikes run forever and I was inspired by the Ewan McGregor documentary ‘The Long Way Round’, where he traveled on a BMW GS all round the world.
The Next Chapter
Camping was my way of relaxing and living in peace.
No mobile going off, no alarms, house or emergency, no cars speeding or people shouting.
Making my tea on an open fire, just me and my Bike with Vangelis ‘I’ll Find My Way Home’ softly playing on my Sony Walkman, wired up to a speaker in the background.
Soon I wanted to carry more gear with me – a better sleeping system and better all round gear to make life comfortable.
The Sidecar Outfit
I had read and heard of sidecars, but never thought I would be looking for one.
A programme came on Motors TV about a Russian outfit that was handmade in a factory in the Ural Mountains in Russia.
The outfit was expensive, and living on my own then after my other half leaving me, the budget was tight.
When I look for something I always get it.
The Ural sidecar is still made today all by hand, even the white lines on the body work are done by one lady with an artist’s brush.
The first aid box on the back even came with a bottle of Russian Vodka.
I had great fun and used it for 12 months until my situation changed again.
1970 BMW R90 Watsonian Sidecar
The bike was in immaculate condition .
Made in 1970, the sidecar was made in 1957.
The outfit turned many heads and I had many grommets like, ‘My dad had one of those’.
Eventually I got married again, and my wife was not keen on motorcycles so I sold it.
So the saying ‘one life, live it’ was achieved in a small way by making that choice in life to do what I wanted to do at the time and living life to the full.
It was a short episode, but I respected the various engines that were under my control and never went beyond my means.
If you want something in life, don’t wait until you’re too old to do it and regret it.