Bitten by the bug: a biker's life (part two)

Today we continue with Frank Roberts' memories of a lifetime on bikes. Apologies for the delay - final part to come tomorrow.

Honda CD175 (not authors own!)

Nothing lasts forever. I soon got married and moved away to work. The others also got married and the rich bastard was being groomed to take over his father's business. With marriage and a responsible job comes responsible family transport - thus no bike.

I was bikeless for the first time by choice, and I didn't like it. True, I didn't get wet when it rained and there was no dressing up for protection, but there was something missing. Life comes up with strange circumstances, and when my industry took a down turn I applied and joined the police force.

I became a plod; my force did not allow new recruits to drive cars, and only traffic police rode motorcycles. However my then-wife had a job in one town and I worked in another, and we only had the one car and a new mortgage. With little income, the solution was to get a motorbike - yippee! I got hold of a nice little Honda CD175, complete with the dealers' free crash helmet - yes, you guessed it, white.

The Honda was not a patch on my old BSA, but it did the job to and from work in all weathers, including snow. I also went for the occasional pleasure ride on my own, since I didn't know any enthusiastic motorcyclists at the time. The denims had by now been replaced by a two piece Barbour suit and Gold Top leather boots.

A couple of years later I replaced this bike with a Honda 250 Super Dream with a Rickman fairing. I couldn't believe how dry and warm the fairing kept me. In a moment of madness I traded the 250 in for Honda CB500 twin, purely because it reminded me of my old BSA. Despite being faster I felt more exposed and colder.

Then oh, what joy! Having been a traffic officer for a short time and attaining police advanced car driver status, I was accepted to attend the traffic motorcycle course which lasted a month. It involved riding theory which I found interesting but a bit difficult, basic bike mechanics (no problem), and the best bit; a long ride out every day - and I was being paid for it!

I passed my advance bike test and returned to my division where at the beginning of each shift duties were given out. My section only had one or two regular motorcyclists and they had to patrol in pairs, so within a short space of time I became a regular motorcycle patrol officer. The bikes were individually issued, so while I was waiting for mine to come from HQ I used an old Norton Commando 750 that was begging to be retired. It had a large bright yellow fairing, a blue flashing light at the front above the headlight and bright yellow panniers containing paperwork, basic tools and a first aid kit.

Moto Guzzi 850 - bike of choice for the force

My gear was black riding breaches and a black waterproof jacket with warrant number on the shoulders. My helmet was no longer white; it was bright yellow which matched the bike. Later my own bike arrived, a more recent Moto Guzzi 850 that looked much the same, except there was an additional rotating blue light on a stick behind the rider.

This was the life, tearing around sometimes as fast as we dare with the blues and twos on, and being paid for the pleasure. While some of the incidents we attended were often traumatic, I cannot ever remember being tired of it.

Again, life puts up opportunities, and this time a senior officer looked at me one day entering the nick. "You don't look a bit like a copper" he said, noticing the bushy black beard I had at the time. "Come and see me in my office later, I'm starting a new squad."

There were a lot of ex-soldiers in the force who looked like they were born in uniform. As yours truly looked like a sack of sh*t somewhere in the middle, I was put on a specialist surveillance unit which ended my career on a patrol bike. But I needed the money, so for a time I satisfied myself with riding to and from work, and the occasional ride around on a nice day.

Frank Roberts be continued


Anonymous said...

Wonderful, I can't wait for part three...