I am going to take you all down memory lane. Hopefully, some of the images and my descriptions will raise a smile, which is often needed in January!
I realised some time ago that I had always been fascinated by motorcycles and scooters. Obviously, everyone’s two-wheeler experiences start on their first bicycle or push bike, with or without the stabilisers.
My first motorised two-wheeler experience was about 1966. I had gone to what was then Woolsington Airport, where the Aeroclub now is in the corner of Newcastle Airport, to see off a plane-load of people who were going to Lourdes. My dad had taken me up on the bus. The young curate of our local Church had a scooter – I don’t remember if it was a Lambretta or a Vespa, but it was the classic shape. We missed the bus going back to Newcastle, so the priest suggested that we all got on his scooter, and he would catch the bus up. My dad said “obviously I’ll sit on the back seat, but where will Mark go?”, and the priest suggested I stood in the footwell and put my hands inside the handlebar grips. We agreed, and off we went. I can remember that the thrill of the scooter accelerating, and we did catch that bus. I can remember the priest shouting above the noise that the three people on the scooter were the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost”! None of us had helmets on, as it wasn’t compulsory in those days! Wow.
My first experience of riding a bike myself was when I was 14 years old. Our family took my friend on holiday to a caravan site in Hauxley in Northumberland, and one of his school friends was also there. His dad had a business and had bought his son a brand-new Honda ST70 monkey bike in white with a fetching stripe on it. It was a clutch less, three-gear change and we spent the full week going up and down the tracks, one at a time, solo on the bike beside the dunes. No helmets again, and it wasn’t dropped (much). Four years later, a lads’ week in Corsica riding 50cc pedal start mobylettes followed!
I took formal lessons when I was 19, under the Star Rider Scheme, on Fenham Barracks (now a BMW car sales room in Newcastle), on a Suzuki BL100P (Bloop). I was loaned a Honda CB125 and passed my test at Kenton Bar. An examiner on foot watched me at the corner of various roads in the Kenton Bar estate, jumping out and putting his hand out for an emergency stop! At one stage, an Alsatian dog tried to attack my right leg until I gave it a sharp prod with my right foot. The examiner said “good work with your boot”! I passed.
My first real bike that I owned was a Honda CD175 (see photo) which was marvellous. I couldn’t afford the twin Carburettor CB175 version! The best-selling classic bike magazine nationally has pictures of bikers with their first bike. Send me yours in with you tales. I wonder if anyone can top my ‘two and a half men on a bike’ story? Although we couldn’t find an image of two men and a boy on a scooter, I thought you might like to see a photograph that I took at home of a placemat, which is the closest equivalent, of two unhelmeted obviously Italian priests, on a Lambretta scooting through the Italian countryside. It’s great being on two wheels!
Mark Hipkin is a Partner/ Head of the Personal Injury and Civil Litigation department. He welcomes your e-mails or calls on the law (or your biking experiences) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 2533509.