The shot above was taken one summer
evening about 7:00 PM on a road leading west out of town. The exact spot is about
10 minutes from my office and for those who have an interest I've posted a Yahoo
map of showing those two locations, click the pic to see the map. Heading west for
about 25 minutes can put you on the road you see below which is heading as shown
pretty much south but ends up deep in eastern foothills of the Rockies and onto a
seasonal road known as The Powderface Trail. A beautiful drive any time of the year
when it's not winter . . .
Here's a factory shot of the last
bike I owned, a 1969 BSA Rocket Three. At the time I was all of 19 and spinning wrenches
for the local Harley, BSA, Ducati dealer; the Triple was the second one in Calgary.
0 to 60 in 3.9 secs, in second gear, man did it haul. With the exception of major
Mopar iron it was the fastest thing in town. The troubles with these machines had
to do with there not being enough brakes, not by half, a diabolical proclivity to
oil leaks and very heavy clutch action.
The oil leaks I fixed by tearing down the brand new engine, before I ever put it
on the road, the clutch action taught me to get good at clutchless shifting and on
a machine that in 1969 did 130mph out of the crate the brakes were terrifyingly inadequate.
My best pal worked for the Triumph, Yamaha dealer and so bought the Trident version
of essentially the same bike and between us we had a ball . . .
Here's the Rocket Three two years
later, I always thought they screwed it up. They certainly fouled up the utterly
magical exhaust sound of the old "Buck Rogers" mufflers. I never did understand
why those funny looking, three pipe things sounded the way they did until I had to
pull one apart for some reason I now can't remember. At any rate the three exhaust
tubes extended well into the body of the muffler and were tuned to different frequencies,
frequencies that IM-d and beat to produce perhaps the most musical sound yet heard
from a two-wheeled machine. None of the rice rockets I hear screaming around these
days sounds anything like that old '69 Rocket . . . End nostalgic rant.
Well, maybe not quite.
Here's a shot of yours truly about to embark on a little 220 mile, high speed Saturday
morning road trip into the mountains, for coffee . . .
Here are couple of shots of the
venerable, Army issue Triumph TRW, a 500cc sidevalve training bike. It produced a
whopping 16hp at its 5,500rpm redline and as geared from the factory it would do
all of 60mph.
While neither of these is the one I put on the road in 1965 they are identical to
the ones my Dad bought me thru Crown Assets Disposal here in Canada; along with which
he bought a complete set of British Standard Snap-on combination wrenches and 3/8"
drive sockets and the shop and parts manuals.
He said to me, "Here you go, the shop's in the basement so let's get them down
the stairs and have fun," and he left me pretty much to it.
And that really is the end of nostalgic rants.
VINCENT BLACK LIGHTNING
"Oh," says Red Molly to James, "That's a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like"
Says James to Red Molly, "My hat's off to you
It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.
And I've seen you at the corners and cafes it seems
Red hair and black leather, my favourite colour scheme."
And he pulled her on behind and down to Boxhill they did ride
"Oh," says James to Red Molly, "Here's a ring for your right hand
But I'll tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man.
For I've fought with the law since I was seventeen,
I robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine.
Now I'm 21 years, I might make 22
And I don't mind dying, but for the love of you.
And if fate should break my stride
Then I'll give you my Vincent to ride."
"Come down, come down, Red Molly," called Sergeant McRae
"For they've taken young James Adie for armed robbery.
Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing inside.
Oh come down, Red Molly to his dying bedside."
When she came to the hospital, there wasn't much left
He was running out of road, he was running out of breath
But he smiled to see her cry
He said, "I'll give you my Vincent to ride."
Says James, "In my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a '52 Vincent and a red headed girl.
Ah, they don't have a soul like a Vincent 52."
Oh he reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys
Said, "I've got no further use for these.
I see angels on Ariels
in leather and chrome,
Swooping down from heaven to carry me home."
And he gave her one last kiss and died
And he gave her his Vincent to ride.
- Richard Thompson
- two letter words, © 1996 Richard Thompson
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