It might not get all that cold in the area of NZ where we live but at least in winter, the grass only needs cutting every few weeks and the garden largely takes care of itself! This gives a bit more free time to do indoor stuff, especially with longer nights as well. One of those "other stuff" things is continuing to sort through thousands of old photos, including 35mm slides, prints and some digital images.
Hope it doesn't bore the pants off everyone, but here are a few photos which might be of interest.
The first was taken at a North Island classic car meet at Kerikeri in 2009. Looks like a Lotus 7-type kit car, doesn't it? Well, it was clearly influenced by Lotus but it was built from scratch by a well-retired panelbeater even older than me!! Alloy and glass-fibre bodywork, carbon guards - all fabricated by him. Now here's the bike connection - it has a modified Honda CBR1100xx Blackbird motor in it. It apparently has electrifying performance on account of its power to weight ratio. We had a long discussion about the motor and his next project was to turbocharge it. Absolute proof that as you age, there's no need to slow up or grow up - what a great advertisement for ageing disgracefully!
The next picture was taken at a charity toy run in the 1990's. It was a 1960's UK-built Raleigh 20 bicycle but someone had cleverly grafted a little engine onto it which pressed down on the front tyre. The steering characteristics must have been quite interesting. I vaguely remember the French having a penchant for powered bicycles way back. Looks like throttle control is via a thumb lever on the handlebars. Also noteworthy is the apparent absence of brakes so in an emergency, I guess the rider simply abandoned ship and left it to its own devices. It does have a bell though - the ultimate safety accessory.
This photo was taken in 1991 in Bali and shows a novel approach to passenger safety. Gary Francis' recent blog from Thailand also commented on the practice which clearly continues to this day in south east Asia. There must be safety rules for riding motorcycles because everyone wears helmets, but side saddle???? Perhaps gravel rash is an acceptable risk in the face of style and modesty. Heaven knows what happens on tight corners or under emergency braking! As an aside, there are a few big bikes in Bali but by far the majority are scooters and mopeds. Craftsmanship is alive and well over there as we saw roadside motorcycle shops (shops is a rather loose description for a pavement workshop), manufacturing exquisite expansion chambers for customised 2 stroke mopeds with sheet metal, crude hand tools and a gas torch!
This photo was taken in 1987 and the very pretty Honda GB400TT in the foreground was responsible for getting me back into motorcycling. They were built in the British cafe racer style and it was a delight to ride. I'm standing by the GSX-R1100 owned by a workmate and it's a good job that it's not a video or you'd see me shaking! After my absence from bike ownership for close on 15 years and totally rusty, Chris turns up and suggests we swap bikes for a "gentle" ride round a local twisty route. Oh Lord, I was terrified of the Gixxer, with its super-sensitive throttle and Chris had disappeared into the distance on my bike within the first minute of the ride (and he claimed that he was taking it easy). It was probably while this photo was being taken that the realisation dawned that there was a whole load of unlearning and relearning to be done!
The following photo was taken in 1993 and shows all that is wonderful about motorcycling - a 2 stroke screamer in the shape of a 250cc Suzuki X7! It belonged to our eldest son Lyndon who graduated to a road bike after spending a year on a Suzuki TS 100 trail bike honing his skills in our company-owned forests. The X7 was a beauty of a bike and whilst Lyndon was a layabout at university, I used to sneak out on it at every opportunity and thrash it round the country lanes. Two strokes take an awful lot of beating in the fun stakes - the exhaust howl is something else. A friend still owns this bike, hasn't ridden it in years and I still have hopes of getting my paws on it again one day!
I mentioned the Suzuki TS 100. The next photo is yours truly giving it a hiding along one of our company forest fire breaks around 1990. Lovely little bike, surprisingly tractable and would carry my weight along at a fair old lick. It was given to us by a friend who's crowning glory was to jump it off a jetty into the sea after drinking a little too much of the amber liquid! Amazingly, after a thorough wash-down and lots of CRC, it showed few ill-effects and was a family favourite for some years.
The final photo in this post (taken in 1980) clearly isn't a motorcycle but there is a connection! Before returning to bikes in 1987, I raced single-handed catamarans, called Paper Tigers, at national championship level. Quite difficult to handle in a decent breeze as shown by the shot taken on our local stretch of water. Incidentally, the yacht was called "Hooligan"; a not inappropriate name, all things considered. The successor to Hooligan was called "September Warrior". So-called because that's when all the bullshitting started before the new sailing season opened in October! Anyway, the motorcycling connection is that I reckon that the skill set required to sail a yacht and ride a motorcycle are practically identical in terms of balance, reaction times and situational awareness. Perhaps that's why I instinctively took to yacht racing. Although I've never piloted a light aircraft, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think that the skill set for flying is very similar too.