story behind the trip: I seemed to get all the bad luck going on
this tour! On one narrow stretch of fenced road on a hillside,
three young steers who should not have been there, were weaving
back and forth across the road; my two mates managed to get past
them OK, but when it was my turn, a spooked steer ran across in
front of me, with the inevitable result of a collision, the bike
going down and hitting a marker post, smashing the headlight!
Needless to say, the steer was just fine!
On another occasion, we camped one night by a deserted beach on
Tologa Bay north of Gisborne. Before the daylight faded we
decided it would be a great idea to do 1/4 mile drags on the
beach, and trying to keep up with the 650s, I succeeded in
blowing up my engine! One of my mates towed me back to Gisborne,
where I put the bike (and myself!) on the train back to Auckland
- an ignominious end to an otherwise very enjoyable tour.
Racing the Commando: I'd love to say
that I won lots of races, but the truth is I never got anywhere
near the front, mainly, I think, because all the races were push
start off the grid, or Le Mans starts (where the riders line up
on one side of the track and have to run across the track to
their bikes on the opposite side, and then push start them). I
was a scrawny 9 stone back then, and trying to push-start a
Commando was a big ask! By the time I got it going, I was
knackered, and all the two strokes were half way round the
circuit! Great fun though, all the same.
How the car became a ute: radial ply tyres had
recently become available, and I’d fitted Firestone radials to
the car. In the wet they’d hang on really well, up to the point
where they’d suddenly let go without warning. Yes, you guessed
it, I lost it big time on a bend in the wet, did a 180 into a
pole, which left its imprint across the roof, just behind the
door pillar. I thought the “ute “ solution was the best way to
go from there!
CB Honda: the 450 was a great bike - it could blow Bonnevilles
into the weeds! The handling left a bit to be desired,
especially when encountering cow pats on country roads! It left
such an impression that it was the bike I wanted to race in the
Historics, and I've no regrets!