Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Wandering in the snow

Braved freak snow flurries to make the annual Spring shakedown run to Southend on Easter Monday. I thought I’d wear the full-face helmet to get a bit of wind protection but hadn’t bargained for it freezing up on the inside as well as the out – with the visor up I’d have been better off wearing the trusty open-face with goggles.

Southend itself never fails to disappoint - so it was a quick once up and down the seafront to check out the bikes (unsurprisingly fewer than previous years); some very second-rate fish’n’chips; a half of Guinness to catch a set from a Rockabilly band and then head for home again.

One particular bike caught me eye; a stunning old Triumph in a Metisse frame although in a street scrambler style rather than the usual café racer, but still with the alloy tank and loads of polished stainless. It was immaculately clean but details like the hand-plaited bright wiring, modern foam grips and Hagon shocks would have all pissed off the classic-bike purists. I was happy that it was clearly ridden and looked-after rather than just restored and polished.

Riding home my mind wandered as it tends to when you have an open road and aren’t in any particular hurry.

The snow made me think of the Battle of Towton, fought in the middle of another freak Easter snowstorm in 1461. Visibility was so bad that the two armies stood toe-to-toe and hacked away at each other for hours. Officially it was the bloodiest battle on British soil – something like 1% of the total population perished in a single day.

How did I get there?: Well I bet a few of them wished they’d had a full-face helmet that day.

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