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triumph daytona isle of man

Big sky dreaming

(Travels with Guido series #304, by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Feb 2021)

Sometimes you need to forget the bike and instead concentrate on what it’s for

It’s been a weird year or so, when too much time has been spent washing, polishing, wielding spanners or paying someone else to, and concentrating on keeping the assorted transports of delight up and running. In between those times, the mission has all too often been just carve up the traffic on the way to and from the salt mine to make sure a regular pay packet keeps coming in.

On weekends, a whole bunch of time has been burned unpacking the shed and making sure everything gets out for a regular gallop. Yep, a hell of a problem to have. A Sunday afternoon taking half a dozen toys for the proverbial run around the block is a delight but, weirdly, ends with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. Maybe it’s in our genome to want more.

It comes down to perspective. If ever you’ve been trained to draw, you’ll know some very simple rules are taught to consider your viewpoint from the near to the end of the horizon, so everything remains in perspective.

Good flying instructors will teach you to first fly and look out the damn window, then worry about everything else later. Motorcycle instructors tell you to look to the horizon. It’s called situational awareness. While all that is easy enough to apply to individual trips, it’s simple to forget that maybe it should apply to the broader aspects of your motorcycling life.

For the last several months I seem to have been caught in this groundhog day of feeding, maintaining and paying for the fleet, while forgetting what it’s for. The irony is that it defeats the whole purpose of owning it.

And don’t for a minute think this just applies to owning several bikes. I’m sure I’ve been caught in exactly the same trap when there was just one two-wheeled toy in the shed. Money was a bit more tight, but the situation was the same. Go to work to pay for it, come home on the weekend to fix it, repeat.

What got me thinking about this was lining up with photographer Ben Galli for the feature on the 2009 Indian (see Our Bikes) some time ago. The culture is to ensure any feature shoot has something resembling a theme that suits the machine. In the case of the Indian, it was simple: a big American touring cruiser needs a big sky and wide landscapes. That’s what it was made for.

The funny thing was we didn’t have to go far to find it. Just 30 kay or so up the road from my house was the perfect scenery, with roads I’ve ridden countless times on my way to (coincidentally) go for a fly. Just going through that exercise reminded me why in hell I own these things. It’s not just to covet them (though I’ll admit that’s part of the fun) but to get out and enjoy what they do.

Perhaps a timely reminder that you really should stop looking at the bike as just a possession and think about where it can take you. An afternoon on a nice set of curves would suit the 916 Ducati, while the T160 Triumph could do with another backroads tour.

Does that all seem a bit specialised? A single machine can do most things. One of my all-time favourite trips was on a 2004 Triumph Daytona 955, where we faffed about in city and motorway gridlock, play-raced round the Isle of Man TT course, and toured much of the centre and west of England, plus a fair bit of Scotland. About Au$6-8000 will get you a good example of that bike and I’d have it in the shed tomorrow.

Just sitting on one would bring all those memories flooding back. Staying at the lighthouse at the northern tip of the Isle, the people, the parties and the adventures that branched out from there.

Try it next time you walk out to the shed. Look at the bike and then look to the sky – the big sky…

See more Travels with Guido here



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