On Wednesday 14th March, ten brave souls arrived at Lymm Services before setting off in monsoon rain wishing we had travelled in cars like the three Triumph owning Slam Bikers did (in-house joke with a nod to John Burns). Only joking, weather was windy but thankfully dry so off we rode through Knutsford and beyond on mostly A roads and a few B roads. A nice quiet pace was set by Derek, riding his new 1200 Tiger and having to keep the revs down for the first few hundred miles.

First brew stop was a transport cafe in Sudbury for late breakfast with bacon butties and a huge full english for the extra hungry ones (Woz). Comfort break sorted, and back on the A515 towards Barton-Under-Needwood. Full marks to the drop-off riders successfully marking the junctions under very difficult traffic conditions, especially around Stoke.  We did temporarily lose Pete Cole who fortunately caught up with us at the fuel stop just outside Hinckley. That was, however, after all of us took a detour into an Aldi’s car park instead of the petrol station. From the fuel stop it was a short ride to the factory and everybody’s tickets scanned ready for the factory visit.

 

On arrival it was time to relax and walk around the exhibition, which is an excellent in-house display of important historical bikes supported by wall displays of the Triumph time-line, which was very well laid out and well worth taking the time to enjoy. The Triumph staff we spoke to were very informative and helpful, and a pleasure to listen to. We had time to enjoy a coffee and lunch if you could (Woz) before the production line tour started at 2.30pm.

At the start of the tour we were all issued with hi-viz waistcoats and radio sets, and we had to leave our mobile phones in lockers as they are prohibited in the factory working area. We initially set off through the warehouse where 6,500 completed bikes are stored on racks seven storeys high. From the warehouse we made our way into the machine shop where camshaft and crankshaft bearing surfaces were being machined. Triumph engines apparently are good for 200,000 miles if all the fluids are looked after. What was very noticeable was that the working areas were spotless throughout the factory.

The number of completed bikes produced at the time of our tour was 6.5 per hour over an 18 hour shift pattern, although the computer controlled machinery has the ability to produce 18 bikes an hour if required. The tour took just about two hours and was well presented and thoroughly recommended.

After a final comfort break for the old boys we set off at 16.45pm. Apparently it’s the law – see a loo you have to go! Again we used A and B roads initially on a different route to the one we travelled down, until we reached the A50 before Stoke. We stopped for a final brew stop and food for those who could possibly eat anymore (Woz) just north of Stoke. When we then set off for the final leg home daylight had gone so I found riding the roads in darkness very challenging as my eyes and brain didn’t cope very well. I was glad to get back to Lymm Services and onto the M6 and back home to Clitheroe.

Finally, a thank you to Derek Saunders for the time and effort in booking and planning the event and also Steve Royce for volunteering as TEC.

You can never stop improving your riding!

One of our passions in SLAM is to keep pushing up safe riding standards.  However good a rider we may be, we can all be even better… no matter who we are.

I challenge everyone reading this to stop and reflect on the last time they can think of when their riding – be it decisions, skills, execution, or whatever – could have been better.

I’m sure we all have our little instance!  If not… our latest initiative is most definitely for you!

We are about to launch Continuous Rider Improvement Coaching sessions in SLAM.

The aim – to help people who have passed their Advanced Assessment some time ago to continue to keep their riding skills at a high level.  No pressure, just a great opportunity to hone your riding skills, nip any bad habits in the bud, and be the best rider you can.  You’ll be getting an email from John Burns in the next couple of weeks to explain the new initiative. 

I really hope you take it up.

Making the most of our experience…

I’m delighted to announce that the Committee have agreed to inaugurate a new role in SLAM – that of President. 

IAM RoadSmart recognise the position as one which can be of great benefit to individual Groups.  Some Groups choose people who may give them some kudos in the local community, others choose people with particular skills.

Here at SLAM, the reason for us recognising someone as President is to maintain the huge depth of experience that exists in SLAM.  We have a number of members who were around when we were formed… and others with a wealth of experience in running the Group.  They have a lot to offer.

We see the President as someone who will actively support the Chairman and help take SLAM forward as the premier IAM RoadSmart Group in the North of England.  I’m really excited about this new role!

Ride safe, and see you around!

Dave

MY FIRST BIKE

Before writing about my first bike I ought to explain where my interest came from. Well that’s down to my Dad when I was probably around three or four years old. After being demobbed from the fleet air arm in 1957 he needed transport but couldn’t afford a car so he bought a scooter a 250 Triumph Tigress. He didn’t keep it very long as it was unreliable, apparently Triumph made great bikes but rubbish scooters. Nonetheless, he kept it long enough to pass his test and then he purchased his first bike a 500 Matchless G9. I remember this bike well and loved to climb on it when it was parked on the pavement outside the front of the house. Such antics always enraged Mum not because I might get injured if the bike fell on me but because I always managed to get my clothes covered in oil. All British bikes in the 50’s and 60’s leaked oil like sieves. My Dad’s bike, however, was in a league of its own. Sadly Dad eventually sold the G9 when I was around eight years old and he bought a family car – a 1961 Beetle. That put an end, for the time being, to my fascination with bikes.

C200v1

My first opportunity to ride a bike was when I was 14 years old when me and my posse of mates found an abandoned 70cc BSA Dandy in an air raid shelter.I lived adjacent to the disused Padgate RAF Camp in Warrington and throughout my childhood this vast area of concrete roads and disused air raid shelters provided us with a great adventure playground.The Dandy looked to be complete except mudguards, but who needs those anyway. The one show stopper, however, was no fuel in the tank so we siphoned a pint of petrol from one of my mate’s Dad’s car into a milk bottle. With fuel in tank, I ran alongside the Dandy with my mates pushing and then I would drop the clutch and after about the tenth attempt and to my complete amazement it fired. Somehow, I clambered on to the saddle and opened the throttle and the little Dandy surged forward (‘surged forward’ is probably a slight exaggeration). For the next few weeks the Dandy provided us all with endless hours of fun off-roading around Padgate Camp but siphoning petrol was not only becoming tedious but risky – for our mate anyway, sooner or later his Dad would catch on and there’d be hell to play. So what to do – well fill it up at a petrol garage obviously. I picked the short straw and had to ride the little rat bike on the roads to the nearest petrol station in Fearnhead. With a full tank (paid for from my paper round) I set off back to Padgate Camp. To my horror coming towards me in the distance was a Police panda car – oh my god. There was nowhere to hide as it was a stretch of road with no turnings. As the policeman approached he flashed his lights and waved at me to stop. I considered making a quick getaway but chances were he could probably run faster than the Dandy so I did as I was told and stopped. For the next 10 minutes I was berated by the policeman in front of passing motorists’ gorping at me and he left me in no doubt that I was the most stupid boy in the universe. I was only worried that he was going to take the bike off me but to my surprise he let me go with the bike but I had to push it. During the bollocking I only said the occasional yes and no just so he knew that I knew I was a complete idiot. Unfortunately for me, the most stupid thing I did was to provide him with my true address. At the time we lived at the bottom of a cul-de-sac and I spent that evening looking down the close for the panda to arrive – it did. Once the policeman told every sordid detail to my parents my Dad went ballistic, so much so I think the policeman felt sorry for me. Mum was more concerned about me bringing shame to the house in front of the curtain twitching neighbours up and down the close. I was grounded for a fortnight but during my enforced detention one of my mates got word to me that the Dandy had been nicked from where we used to hide it. I was gutted but, with hindsight, it was probably for the best. Nonetheless my brief exploits around Padgate camp got me hooked and there was nothing in the world that I wanted more than a motorbike.

That dream came true in early 1971 when I was 15. I used to visit my Gran regularly and her elderly neighbour use to park a black Honda 90 model C200 outside his back door. I used to drink tea leaning on my Gran’s garden wall looking at the bike and dreaming where I would go on it. My obvious adulation for this bike didn’t go unnoticed and one day the elderly gent who owned it let it be known to my Gran that he was going to sell it. As soon as my Gran told me this I was perched on his door step in an instant begging him to sell it to me. We agreed a price of £45 for it but because I was only 15 and not able to ride it legally he wanted to meet my Dad to be sure I had parental consent to buy it. I knew Dad wouldn’t be a problem but after the Dandy incident Mum vowed that I would never be allowed to have a bike. One day when Mum was at work I told Dad about the bike and how I had to have it. Frustratingly I couldn’t get him to agree so I pestered him just to go and look at it which thankfully he eventually agreed to do. When we arrived he was impressed with the condition and liked the old boy selling it and thought £45 was a fair price. After he took it for a test ride he was hooked and the little Honda was mine, however, I was forbidden to take it home until he had spoken to Mum. Getting her on board proved to be a very trying time, for my Dad anyway with endless rows culminating in a period of ‘vision only’ which was all my fault of course. Eventually Mum defrosted and agreed to let me have the bike subject to all manner of ridiculous conditions which I agreed to but I wasn’t bothered I just wanted the bike.

The bike stood in the garage for the next 5 months until I was 16. Father took it out for a spin now and again with me as pillion and I polished and started the bike every day in the garage. During this period of my life I was at a Technical College but I was always the youngest in my year so all my mates travelled to and fro on their bikes whilst I was stilling having to use a push bike every day. I couldn’t wait to be 16 when there would be no more walking to the shops, no more buses, no more pedalling up the hill in Capesthorne Road in Orford, with aching legs and panting lungs.

Soon enough that day arrived and on the eve before my sixteenth birthday I just couldn’t sleep I was too excited. I got up at the crack of dawn to go a very long way round to college which was only two miles away. I planned to go across Warrington and out towards Frodsham and Helsby and returning through Widnes and Sankey so I left home in the dark. All was going great and I was really enjoying myself until the engine spluttered to a stop just as I crossed the River Weaver on the A56 entering Frodsham. In all my excitement to get out on the bike I’d forgotten to check how much petrol I had, needless to say I had none! It was 6am and dawn was just breaking – what to do? For one stupid moment I considered phoning Dad to ask him to come out with some petrol for me. Fortunately a sense of self preservation prevailed and I quickly abandoned that daft idea. There was nothing to it but to push the bike towards Frodsham which was only up the road, at least it wasn’t raining. As it was my birthday I think the gods must have took pity on me because as I was pushing the bike along a bend in the road and as the road straightened up a petrol station came into view. When I arrived at the petrol station it was closed but it was open at 7am so I sat and waited. When the lady arrived to open the petrol station she was surprised to see me waiting on the forecourt. I explained my predicament to her and she laughed but for the life of me I didn’t see the funny side. Anyway I filled up and I was off again – what a fantastic feeling, just pulling the throttle towards me and feeling the power of the engine taking me to new places.

Luckily I managed to arrive at college ready for a 9am start despite running out of petrol but worse was to come. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was eager for college to finish so I could get back on my bike. My route home took me along Long Lane which is exactly what it is – a long straight lane directly outside the gates of the college. I rode out the college gates and ‘pinned’ my little Honda down Long Lane just like Giacomo Agostini! Unfortunately for me PC Plod was standing at the bottom of Long Lane with a radar speed gun in hand and I was nicked. I can’t remember what speed I was doing but it cost me a £5 fine and an endorsement. I was more worried about telling my parents so I didn’t but they did find out when the postman delivered my driving licence complete with endorsement – not a happy day.

All in all my first day riding a bike legally hadn’t been an outstanding success, however, over the coming 18 months I became very fond of that little Honda. It took me together with my mates far and wide into Wales, the Lakes and the Peak District. Every weekend that we could we would ride out of the college gates on a Friday afternoon towards wherever with our tents and rucksacks full of food for a great weekend adventure. It never let me down apart from the odd puncture and when I come to sell it on I was very sorry to see it go although very happy to have replaced it with a Tiger 110 which nearly destroyed my license but that’s another story.

A couple of years ago I came across a mistreated and wrecked Honda 90 C200 and I bought it. I’ve since restored it to it’s former glory and I’m looking forward this summer to bimbling around the country lanes on it. What is interesting is that when I ride the Honda 90 now it is still so familiar, using the switches, the gear change and even the seating position I still remember from my first bike nearly 47 years ago. The pictures below show the before and after restoration of my current 1965 Honda 90 C200.

Latest SLAM Events

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05 Jul 2018
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07 Jul 2018
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SLAM Fylde Ride
12 Jul 2018
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Course 2 Test Brief
16 Jul 2018
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