I was born in London in 1965 so that makes me a spritely mid 40’s (ok, maybe late 40’s..) My first foray into motorcycling was when I was 15 years old and my step-father showed me a manky old 1972 Yamaha FS1E in the back of his shed. I was intrigued. He said it would run but to be honest, the only place it should have run was to the local dump.
Saving up my paper and milk round money cobbled together the £50 the previous owner wanted for it and I set about fixing it up. This involved diligent reading of the Haynes manual enabling me to mend or replace several parts myself and included evicting the mouse and her family living in the saddle! I was fortunate enough to be able to ride legally on private land up to my 16th birthday when I took and passed my riding test as soon as I could, no kid wanted L plates on their bike, it just wasn’t cool..!
What followed was a year of the best fun I’ve ever had. I took that bike everywhere, all round the country and enjoyed a freedom that I believe everyone should be allowed to have. However, I had forgotten that my Mum had made me promise to sell it when I was old enough to drive, and, as no one like to make their Mum angry, I sold it just after my 17th birthday.
It was then that I found cars can be a lot of fun too. I had bought a 1965 Ford Cortina MKI that was 4 months older than I was for £200 and passed my driving test first time 2 months after my birthday and after only 5 lessons. Again, the feeling of being able to go anywhere when I wanted to was fantastic, this time with my friends too.
At 17½ I joined the Metropolitan Police Cadets and, as I was being paid £35 a week, found that I could upgrade to a 1967 Mini 1000 and yes I did put spot lights and a small steering wheel on it..! I joined Hendon as a Constable in 1984 and whilst at training school bought a British Racing Green Triumph Spitfire. This had the effect of making me popular as I was only one of a very few recruits with a licence and it got me a girlfriend too. What followed was a period of time where I never bought Road Tax, not because I was driving illegally, but I never kept a car long enough to have to buy any. I changed the Spitfire for a red MG Metro which I loved to bits, then to a MG Metro Turbo that I didn’t love at all. After going out to buy a new Ford Escort Popular Plus that were on offer in my local dealer I accidently came home with a brand new Escort XR3i – these things happen you know! What followed was a flurry of cars including another XR3i, a beautiful red Escort RS Turbo, two Ford Mondeos, and a V6 Mazda 323 Fastback. I currently have a Mazda 6 Sport.
Move the clock back again to 1992 and there I was back at the bike shop to start up my motorcycling career again. I bought a Kawasaki 250 Skorpion, not a great bike I’m afraid, but it got me through my bike test just before it blew up on the way back home one day. Back to the bike shop again with a friend of mine this time to ensure I didn’t buy another lemon, and I came away with my first ‘big bike’. As I rode home on my G reg Suzuki GS500E I remember thinking ‘how am I ever going to manage with such a heavy and powerful motorcycle’. Three months later I bought my first Honda CBR 600..! Since then I have been hooked on motorcycles too and have owned (in no particular order) a newer model CBR 600, a Yamaha 750 Super Tenere, a Honda CB500, a Yamaha R1, a Honda CBR 400, a Yamaha Fazer 600, a Honda Blackbird and two BMW R1200 GSs one of which I am currently still on.
I am what I suppose is referred to as a ‘Petrol Head’ as I love both riding and driving anything I can get my hands on. However, one thing I do pride myself on is driving and riding properly.