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  • Glynn

Born Biker (circa A.D. ... Just!)

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Suzuki GT250B



And so my motorcycling journey began back in 1978. Aboard the Black Shadow!

Now I know that in the 70s there was a condom with the same name, but the dealer that I had bought this special model from, had for some reason, decided to give it the same name. Or maybe it was just my mate’s jealous take on my new pride and joy… I just can’t remember, to be honest. Anyhow, the bike caught my eye because of the the Lotus formula one, JPS racing colours of black and gold, the cockpit fairing and the obvious prestige of it being a new model.

Now, to actually get my leg over this bike, there were first a few hurdles to jump over. Not least, the one of learning to ride. So welcome to my mate Andy, who I was serving alongside, in the Royal Air Force (RAF). He owned a blue Honda 400 Four and with good reason. Andy being vertically challenged meant that the height of the Four/4 was perfect, as another motorcycle he later purchased required him to wear platform shoes! The infamous Kawasaki Z1B.

Andy was to be my instructor, well really my chauffeur, as I just sat on the back as he rode around the base car park and shouted a few instructions and pointed a lot with his left hand. After an hour of so, I had mastered the art of shouting and that controls should be operated smoothly (more on this later)! Although several times I’d ended up on my arse inspecting the tarmac (asphalt) of the car park.


Feeling trusting and confident that I had been listening, Andy let me have a go (now there’s a trusting mate). I could slip the clutch enough to be convincing and with lifting my feet onto the foot pegs showed my balancing skills were adequate. Job Done!

Now back then you could ride up to a 250cc motorcycle on L plates (insignia displaying you were a new rider) with no form of testing. So all I had to worry about next was how to finance such a project. In steps good old Mum. With the requirement for a loan of some sort, I needed a guarantor and as long as my father didn’t find out (he was very anti motorcycles), then Mum was going to co-sign and I could then enter the world of debt… a true turning point in a man’s life! Paperwork completed, Belstaff jacket, Centurion helmet, sea boot socks and boots purchased, I was ready to pick up the new bike.


Now… of course my new motorcycle mates were very keen for a ride out and to show their support in my newfound passion, so they volunteered to escort me that Saturday, to collect my new steed. So, squeezed on to the back of Kev’s Suzuki GT550 (Kev AKA Moose, was a bit long in the leg) we all set out as my nerves began to build. Was it excitement or fear? We were about to find out.

With a, thankfully, unsuccessful ride there, I got to it and completed the paperwork as the Black Shadow teased me from over the salesperson’s shoulder. Helmet once again donned and with my escort waiting, I climbed aboard my shiny steed. Now the nerves were really gnawing into me! Mates viewing on and my fear of dropping the bike growing stronger I kicked the bike into life. The next challenge was forward motion, an unfamiliar clutch & throttle, and my wish to get into the next gear to show progress was being made. Phew! The bike was moving.

Now as I was unfamiliar with the area and the bike, I had left the navigation for our return to base in the trusty hands of my mates and as I was so excited to get back and show off my new ride to everyone they had decided to take me the most direct route… through a city!! Leicester City! Traffic lights were everywhere and me praying for every one of them to be green. After getting lucky at many of them, the inevitable happened. Red! Bus stops and shoppers surrounded us, and although this might have been the perfect opportunity to pose on my pride and joy, I really wanted to leave that opportunity for another day.

Cometh the green, cometh the man. Or so I thought! What transpired was nothing but blind faith in my sense of direction with my eyes closed and the hope that none of the buses or pedestrians wanted to take me on as I approached them on one wheel. Yes! One front wheel defiantly airborne and me hanging on for dear life. And I’m sure I could hear my mates laughter for all the six bus stops I waved past. And for the rest of the return journey.


Little Chef, Wansford, A1 Peterborough (RIP - Paul Smart)


Moral of this newbies tale….. Learn to wheelie in the base car park before entering a civi street! And don't wear your sea boot socks rolled on the outside of your boots... when its raining!







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