I work in advertising, mainly copywriting and design and live in Raynes Park, which is handy for getaways along the A3. I’m from Dundee originally but have been in London for thirty years. My main bike is a Harley Fat Bob which I bought new in 2015. My Triumph Tiger 1050 had been stolen and I was looking for something less appealing to thieves. I’d previously hired Harleys when on holiday in the US and I liked the Fat Bob’s handling. I also have a Honda VFR 800 which I’ve had for twenty years, as well as a 1960 Lambretta, which has a tuned engine and actually surprises a few drivers from the lights!
I’ve been riding since I was sixteen and have had a lot of different bikes, but also felt that I’d built up some bad habits. I also wanted to be able to ride more smoothly and to put some of the science behind motorcycle control into practice. A friend had also recently joined, which was an additional motivation.
I joined in July 2019 and felt welcomed into the group. I feel that I’ve had a lot of help from all the Observers I’ve ridden with and would like to mention Mark Barling, who pointed out that ‘bimbling’ along was not going to get me through the test. I’d been apt to stay in one gear for too long rather than making a positive use of the bike’s power and braking ability. Unfortunately I have had Covid, and the effects lasted for around six months so I was unable to ride during this time, but, once ORs resume I’d like to be aiming for my test around springtime.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get to Norfolk due to work commitments but have done a couple of AORs. I’ve been impressed by the standard of riding of some of the Associates who haven’t had bikes for very long; this has also opened my eyes to roads I didn’t know of previously, particularly in Kent. I like to record the routes on my satnav then download and tweak them on MyRoute. I’ve enjoyed riding in a group, which isn’t something I’d done much of previously.
I commute by bike, around nine miles each way and try to get out at least once over the weekend and ride all year round. In all I do about five thousand miles a year. In the past I’ve used the Eurail service – now discontinued - to get the bike to the south of France, which was great fun. Two years’ ago I rode over to Prague to attend a rally celebrating 115 years of Harley-Davidson. It was a good long ride accomplished over 3 days, though marred by heavy rain through Germany. But, as a Harley rider, the event was fantastic, with over 65,000 bikes there for the weekend. My wife is less keen on going on the pillion these days (she says the Harley isn’t as comfortable as the VFR).
I enjoy cleaning the Harley and have a good array of the specialised cleaning products H-D sell. As the exhaust pipes are very exposed and close to your legs I’ve sometimes melted my waterproofs and I’ve found that oven cleaner and a copper coin work well for removing the residue from the pipes. I do basic jobs on the Honda such as changing brake pads etc. but as the Harley is rather individualistic I prefer to leave maintenance to the specialists.
I enjoy the poached eggs and mushrooms at Billy’s On the Road, or a hot chocolate and flapjack if I want something sweet. Although I’m not a vegetarian I generally avoid meat when I’m riding as it can be a bit heavy. One of the best meals I’ve had on the road was at The Custom Café on the A259 when out on an OR with Steve Davis. I’d recommend it to anyone riding through that neck of the woods.
My mum wasn’t too happy when I started and I think she still worries a bit – even after 35 years!. When I was still living at home my dad surprised me once by taking my old Honda 400/4 for a spin. I’d had no idea that he could ride a bike but he’d learnt in the Transport Corps in the army during his national service. My nephews think it’s cool that I ride but for most of my friends it’s something I’ve always done, so has not been an issue.
I have noticed that not everyone will wave back. I’ll ride any bike but I enjoy the unique character of the Harley, so I don’t let it bother me. I’d like to see more Harley riders in LAM though.
No, I’ve had a beard for about three years now and have gone through the ‘itch barrier’, but I’m not going to grow it any longer.
It’s difficult as motorcycling has become a lot more expensive than when I started. It might be an idea to work through the training organisations and follow up people six months or so after their DoT test. It’s been good to see that there are quite a few female Associates and Members though.
Thanks Patrick, hopefully we’ll be able to meet in person at some stage!
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