Skip to content
HOME » COLUMNISTS » #314 Born to Ride. A long time ago.

#314 Born to Ride. A long time ago.

When the human odometer has clicked over to all zeros, parts begin to fail and memory blurs. Here Rich …uh … Burgess pitches Geezers MC.

There’s no secret, many Canadian Biker readers are, shall we say, high mileage units. To be fair, many are in reasonably good working order, but thinking about the day retirement will come (or came). Automatic transmissions seem less silly. Damn, even scooters are looking good. Three-wheelers? Whoa, not quite yet.
Conversing with CB Editor John Campbell who usually occupies this page I suggested maybe it is time for an Old Timers Club. Geezers MC? With apologies to the annual Geezers on Wheezers tour organized by the Saskatchewan section of the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group. I figure membership could be won with an appropriate “back in the day” tale.
So, here’s mine.
I remember a cold fall day kicking over my hardtail Norton. I was 19. It was a metalflake beauty (in my eyes anyway) that had started life as a P11 Scrambler. I bought it as a chopper with a big bore kit and high compression pistons installed. It vibrated like nothing I have ever experienced before or since. With its low gearing and extended front end it was difficult to accelerate even moderately and keep the front wheel on the ground. As the rpm increased the cushioned “tourismo” grips would get so large my hands could no longer grip them. That was my personal red line, no tach needed. Reliable it was not. Easy to start? Nope. But it was more fun than I can describe and the coolest bike in a small town. My commute to work was about 17 miles one way—no kilometres back then. The routine: get ready to ride, tickle the carbs, hope for the best and start kicking. The cold 50-weight Castrol GP and high compression pistons soon had my jacket off. Minutes later, the “Lucky Jim sport shirt” was off, leaving my upper long johns visible—jeans, boots and johns. Suddenly the Norton would roar to life, the shorty mufflers snorting like only a Norton can. Not real good at idling, the remote bowl GP carb setup was made for racing not waiting on Mister Dressup.
With luck I got my stuff together and rode off. After one season I sold it to buy a Commando. As usual, wish now I still had it. Old friends still talk about the monster wheelie I pulled after butting into the front of the July First parade that year. The cops seemed unsure if it was part of the show or not (it wasn’t). Wide open in fourth down Main Street. Wow! The cherished only photo, a Polaroid was lost years ago. Bummer.
For club regalia, I was thinking a patch with maybe a motorized wheelchair, or something equally silly. When you are old you can get away with being goofy.

Keep independent motorcycle journalism alive! If you found this article interesting or useful, please consider sharing.