Riding a Motorbike is a Way of Life – My First Bike

As far as I’m concerned riding a motorbike is more than just a great means of transport: and it’s more than the most exhilarating form of travel. It’s a 100% way of life. You and the motorbike together become a sort of totality. I bought my very first bike, a BSA 500cc, way back in 1951 when I was just sixteen. I passed my test – first time – the following year.

lionel first motorbike
My first bike a BSA 500cc

Negotiate the fog on a motorbike

The night before the test, I’d been riding home in a thick fog along a twisting Norfolk road between Norwich and Dereham. My headlight was trained down on the verge, where tarmac and grass produced a sort of guiding line that made it just about possible to negotiate the fog. The council sand lorry had been that way a few hours earlier and had obviously been unwilling to stay broadside across the road in the fog for any longer than was absolutely necessary to tip the sand. Consequently, the tipper had left a heap of very loose sand about four feet deep a good yard out into the road.

I flew through the air

lionel motorbike
Lionel on first bike

My front wheel went straight into it mudguard deep and stopped almost instantly. I flew through the air like a boulder from a Roman catapult attacking an Ancient British hill fort! After a pretty spectacular flight, I landed in a massive clump of brambles. Scrambling out, I managed to get the undamaged bike out of the sand heap and rode it home.

Next morning came the all-important test. After the previous night’s experience, I was determined to show my bike – much as I loved it – who was the boss.

Sixty years in the motorbike saddle

I passed, and to my delight and surprise, the Examiner said: “I really admired the way you handled that motorbike. You showed complete confidence and control. Well done!” I’m glad he hadn’t seen by aerial performance the night before. But that was an unforgettable start to sixty years in the saddle. I’ve had a lot of bikes over those six decades, and you get to know who the best and fairest dealers are. You can’t do better than contacting info@webuyanybike.com.

Big-hearted bikers

Apart from the sheer excitement and pure pleasure you get from riding, you get to know some really big-hearted bikers who do wonderful things for charity. I’ve met so many great guys and gals in Jumbo GB, who organise an annual run, the Jumbo Run, on the second Sunday in September every year. We’re always looking for new riders. This year was our 50th anniversary. We do our best to help boys and girls with special needs and their parents and carers. I’m honoured and privileged to be their President. You can read all about them at www.jumbogb.org. Another wonderful group of truly dedicated bikers are the Freewheelers Emergency Voluntary Service who provide an emergency motorcycle courier service for hospitals in the south-west. Their website is www.freewheelers.org.uk.

Spinal injuries from your motorbike

Another first-rate group of motorbike riders who do their best for charity are known as the Ride Out Campaign and they do their best to raise money for research into spinal injuries. Full details of the excellent work they do to help victims of spinal injuries can be obtained by phoning Isabel Robinson on 01483-898786, or e-mail to Isabel@spinalresearch.org. Those are just three of the many bikers’ charities that do such excellent, generous-hearted work for others.

Bikers are newsmakers as well as exciting people who help so many worthwhile causes. The news-making and charity work often get combined. In Florida, for example, instead of his reindeer good old Santa is relying on hundreds of bikers. They collect toys and other gifts. Then carry them to the children who are cared for by the local Salvation Army. They were also cared for by Lake Sumter County Foster Parents’ Association. The bikers, organised by their Chairman, Keith Keeton, are roaring through Leesburg this will be their eighth annual toy run. I’d love to join them – but it’s a long way from Cardiff to Florida!

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