From the Blog

My VFR’s (cont)

After checking out what was available, I decided on the gloss black 94 located in Springwood. I rang the owner, agreed on a price and, the following weekend, I got a lift up the mountains and rode it home. Of all my VFR’s BBII was the best one I have owned. It only had 50000kms on the clock, had been scrupulously cared for, had a Ventura rack and a Staintune high pipe, all the mods that I would have done except that I didn’t have to.

The novelty of owning a VFR that wasn’t red wasn’t the only attraction. The bike was immaculate and, despite the fact that black vehicles are hard to keep clean, I loved the unusual colour. I rode it everywhere, did several long trips on it and found it was at least as good mechanically as any of the other bikes I had owned.

As I said, the novelty of a black bike was great and, riding back into Dapto one day, I noticed a bike up in front of me. I caught up at the lights and was amazed to see that it was a gloss black 4th Gen, just like mine! I flagged the rider down and got a few pics just for posterity.

I wasn’t to know it at the time, but the owner was a road racer, a member of PCRA and a rider who became my friend a few years after. Indeed, it was Russell who gave me the sheepskin seat cover that has been so helpful in my riding over the last few years.

And so it went well until that fateful day in October 2010 when I was unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I never saw the bike again after the accident; it was written off by the insurance company but a mate did take a few pics of it at the panel beaters. It was a very sorry sight.

A period of convalescence and rehabilitation with which you are all familiar followed. I completely lost interest in motorcycling, sold all my gear and accessories and began acclimatising myself to life after motorcycling.

BUT most of my friends were motorcyclists and my social life was still heavily influenced by motorcycling, despite the fact that I felt no desire to return to riding. I used the time well to scan and catalogue over 3000 photos that I had taken at the road races back in the 70’s so motorcycling was still rumbling away in the background. My wife, of course, was relieved that I was still alive and openly delighted that I had given up riding. After what I’d put her through, I certainly didn’t blame her.

However, it was less than two years after the accident that I found that I wanted to ride again. It was going to be a pretty expensive proposition as it entailed buying all the gear that I needed again. Thankfully some very helpful motorcycling mates either gave or sold to me at bargain basement prices most of the stuff that I needed and soon I was kitted out again.

As for the bike, it was always going to be another VFR and the best of the “possibles” by far was a (relatively) high mileage red 4th Gen from an owner on Wollongong’s northern beaches. Mechanically it was fine but the bodywork was very shoddy so the price was right as well. It came with a Ventura rack and a bag as well as a Bagster tank cover and bag. After recovering from the expense of buying, I bought new panels to replace the battered ones and I started re-learning the art.

And re-learning it turned out to be. As well as the physical limitations that were the legacy of my accident (of which more in a moment), the mental limitations were also there, and I wasn’t expecting that. I found that I was having to THINK about my riding rather than having my reactions and responses being automatic, instinctive, if you like. I didn’t like that and, for a while, it looked like I was going to have to pack it in again. I remembered that Stirling Moss, the F1 driver, found the same thing after his accident in 1962 and, even though his body had healed, he decided to retire because he no longer had that instant response to what was happening around him that he had had before the accident.

As well, I found that I was falling over too often. Not at speed, I must add, but at walking pace or at intersections, and especially in emergency situations. Though my leg had healed enough for me to ride, it was still not “limber” enough to get the foot off the footpeg and onto the ground if I had to stop suddenly. A few close calls made me realise that I was putting myself in danger. Should I have a fall in traffic with a semi behind me, the consequences were just too awful to consider, so I de-registered the bike, put the plates into storage and worked even harder on my fitness and rehab.

I guess that took a year (maybe a little less) until I felt confident enough to try again but, instead of doing up the old bike and re-registering it, I bought another one!