Biking For Boys #motorcycles #memories #walking

First car; yep, wedding day!

I’m not your classic petrol head. I passed my motorbike test in 1980 but my driving test took another 3 years and one epic fail (reversing round the corner and aligning ones vehicle with the pavement – a totally useless part of the test as it’s a manoeuvre I’ve never needed to attempt since – ended up with three wheels on the pavement; had I not needed to return to the test centre to get home, I’d have got out then and there). But I got there.

Thing is, I’ve never really fallen in love with cars. Oh sure, I reached 40, said I wanted a sports car and was given a cake in the shape of an MGB. That was more hormones. Otherwise they have been functional (largely – there was a soft top Saab 9’3 which had as much to do with giving into my children as anything) and safe. And boring. And the cause of moans.

I know; she’s on the bike, but don’t be fooled; she hated it and it’s not moving which was a plus

Motorbikes, though are different. I’ve only ever owned two two-wheelers and one was a Puch Maxi, all 49ccs of it. The other was a small Honda but I loved that machine. I even took motorcycle maintenance classes, though, frankly, the world would have been a better place had I earned a little more and left the vagaries of the carburettor and pistons to the ministrations of properly trained mechanics.

That love affair is more cerebral that actual. I sold it after two years because (a) my then girlfriend didn’t like motorbikes – she’s now my wife so that has remained a constant; (b) I needed the cash to go on holiday; and (c) it’s effing cold in England to spend anything other than a couple of months in the summer exposing precious extremities to a voluntary windchill.

I led a walk today, one that I trialled and reported on here a crew weeks ago, that followed the Paddington branch of the Grand Union canal. It was much greener and there were countless coots nesting as well as several swans. Sadly a lot of the nesting materials involved plastic and detritus. But the young were still being born.

All in, it was very jolly.

There is one requisite to my walking friends. They need coffee stops, lunch at the right time and a beer at the end. When I trialled this, the one thing that was blending obvious was the lack of decent cafes near the route. I had to expand my searching.

And glory be: I found a gem.

Back in the 1930s, with car traffic growing exponentially, the authorities recognised the need for larger, wider roads capable of handling the traffic without the towns and villages acting as sclerotic blockages to progress. They came up with the concept of the arterial road, one such being the A405, otherwise known with a certain trepidation as the North Circular. It has grown over the years to a six lane highway but back then, just having a road that bypassed existing conurbations was a blessing. This, remember was 20 years before the first motorway was conceived and built.

To service the needs of this exciting new world a cafe was built: the Ace cafe. It opened in 1938 and it is still there. It has a delightful Art Deco exterior, a couple of ancient but beautifully cared for Mini Clubman’s stood outside and they served, as is only right, a splendid greasy fry up for a brunch.

There were leather jackets, builder’s tea and an atmosphere that suggested it might not be totally wise to photograph people in case they didn’t want their image spread far and wide. I limited myself to the exterior.

I could fall back in love with motorbikes on a day like today. But I’m also wise enough to know that, were I to try riding anything above 49cc I might well end up seeing a lamppost from the wrong side.

I’ll stick with the memories.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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33 Responses to Biking For Boys #motorcycles #memories #walking

  1. I feel the same way as you about cars – but not bikes. I’ve always preferred my legs – and look where that got me. I believe I have a number of photographs similar to some of yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erika says:

    I totally understand the passion for motorbikes. My husband has one too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. trifflepudling says:

    I understand that reversing manoeuvre is just to test your handling, coordination and spatial awareness rather than the situation itself, but have occasionally had to do it!
    Very interesting post – thanks.
    ps am currently victim of my continuing ineptitude in other areas and have broken a toe rushing about carelessly without my myopia glasses on …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a fine crop of cygnets. I don’t know where “our” swans have gone this year. No nests in the usual places. I hope avian flu hasn’t got them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. willowdot21 says:

    Back at my territory 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never seen a coot chick. Man, they have a look that only a mother could love. Thanks for the tour. I still have the tell-tale exhaust cover burn scar from having a motorbike on top of me. The laydown crash avoidance technique has some risk. I do not ride any powered two-wheel vehicles.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JT Twissel says:

    It took me three times to pass the driver’s test – I have no depth perception and can’t parallel park – even to this day! I have a little Honda 90 in high school – didn’t go about 30 mph but I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, the happy memories of both bikes and cars, and even the good old North Circular!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Serendipity, Geoff. Thanks for mentioning this post. I got a kick out of imagining past-you with a motorcycle. I also enjoyed this tour and all the baby water fowl. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Widdershins says:

    Totally agree about motorbikes … they’re wonderful, until they’re not. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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