Sunday, October 6, 2013


When I was eleven or twelve, I convinced two of my younger brothers that the English five pence coin in my hand was a rare Royal Canadian Mint misfire, worth thousands of dollars.

I told them it was a Canadian nickel that had gone terribly wrong, was very rare, and therefore fabulously valuable.

I'd got the five p from a English classmate who'd been home over the summer.

But I was willing to sell them for a mere $5. Each.

The siblings were clearly intrigued by the investment potential, and were reaching for their piggy-banks, when I called my own bluff and told them the truth.

They learned something from the experience; they haven't believed a word I've said since.

Thinking about them got me thinking about bikes.

That got me thinking about motorcycles I've owned.

I've had half a dozen or so two-wheelers.

Yet never in my life have I owned a helmet.

Isn't it funny how close stupidity and good luck will run together?

I'm thinking maybe I should get a road bike, make it all legal with a motorcycle license, and of course put on a helmet.

I'm seriously thinking Moto Guzzi.

But back to the Bultaco in the title.

In my teen years my pal Bruce Dickinson was into bikes. I can't say I ever caught the fever the way he did. He and his pals who suffered the same affliction would spend a weekend riding to Tobermory and back.

I wouldn't have put a lot of money on Bruce becoming a biker. He was just a regular farm boy, destined to take over the family farm just outside Guelph, back in an era when that meant something.

Actually, it probably means even more today- eventually somebody's gonna be growing subdivisions on that land.

He got into bikes the way I did. You get your hands on a little 50 or 80 when you're about 12 or 13 years old. Twenty or fifty bucks might change hands. Your time with that 50cc Honda or 80cc Suzuki was split between beating the hell out of it in the gravel pits on the west side of Guelph and painstakingly dismantling and rebuilding that engine.

Bruce got his motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license right away, and before long he was hanging with a crowd that had graduated out of the gravel pits and onto the highways.

They'd gather up a half dozen like-minded lads and do a weekend run to Tobermory on their first gen Jap twins.

I admired their lust for life, but the thought of spending three hours on a primitive 70's era bike, spitting out the fillings falling from my teeth, compelled me to abstain from the adventure; a decision that in sentimental moments forty years later I regret.

I remember Bruce selling a 250 Bultaco he owned. Spanish brand. Maybe it was a 175. Sorry, I'm just a very unreliable narrator. It was originally a road bike but Bruce had beefed up the suspension with off-road forks and fitted the bike with knobbies.

When I took it for a test run I got a little confused with where the gears and the brakes were. Totally opposite the Suzukis I'd been racing around the gravel pits. Ended up taking out a prime expanse of Mrs. Dickinson's raspberry patch.

I ended up buying that bike on some perversion of Pottery Barn rules. Ya, I wrecked the garden, but how does that mean I have to buy the bike?

But buy the bike I did, and while she was a lot of fun, the maintenance just killed me. Parts were vastly expensive. Delivery came from Spain, in months rather than days.

I kinda fell out of bikes after that, but those brothers didn't.

One of those brothers rides a 1200 Honda sport bike.

The other one rides a bicycle. Came second in class at his last off-road race.

I'm eyeing a Moto Guzzi

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