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Sunshine in Southern England

Posted By John Phillips, Sunday, May 8, 2016

It's yet another blustery day in 100-acre wood - going on two weeks now of unseasonably cold, rainy weather that has settled over the Northeast. The R 100 sits in the garage on the umbilical battery tender while I focus on getting the ol' Norton Commando prepped for reassembly and helping Airhead friend Gary to do the same for his '54 Vincent Rapide. We're on deadline to get both bikes to Mid-Ohio in July, and the clock is ticking. Thank goodness the BMW is ready to go with just basic seasonal maintenance.

In the meantime, Ian Clarke has sent an update from Southern England showing the riding season there in full swing in -gasp!- sunshine. Ian, a well-known expert in pre-1970 BMWs in vintage BMW circles in the UK/EU, was the guest speaker at the February MD Airhead SuperTech. He grew up on British bikes, a rite of passage for a lot of us in the 1960s, but by the mid-60s he was traveling Europe on a BMW, and hasn't looked back since.


Spring outing by the Dorset chapter of the U.K. Vintage Motorcycle Club.


On another UK ride, bikes 25 years old or older ranged from a 1920s Sunbeam to a 1980s Honda, with numerous BMW airheads in between. The 1963 R 60/2 in the foreground just clocked 400,000 miles since being acquired by its owner in 1968!

Ian has already logged more than 1,500 miles since April on his bikes ranging from a 1929 Excelsior to a 1963 R 69 S. I'm a slacker having logged maybe 200. He admits some of his riding was in "appalling" weather, a description most Brits would not use lightly. I would also term riding in a hail storm "appalling." So, Kudos to Ian. He's old school hard core, setting the example. Fortunately for him, vintage motorcycle organizations in the UK crowd the riding season with events during the week as well as on weekends, so his odometer is off to a good start. Still, I'm waiting for the mercury to push over 60 degrees F to get fully into the season here, and the Norton is giving me a constructive excuse.

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