Graham Spencer: Adventure Story "50 Years (and still going) Adventure"
GRAHAM'S TOP ADVENTURE TIP: Plan your route and essential stopping points before leaving home.
My father used to ride a motorcycle, and for many years the bike and sidecar, an Arial 600 side valve (PHOTO 1- the same sort of bike taken in 1985 with our small son 'riding' it), was our only form of family transport. Family holidays meant loading up my brother and I, all our luggage and our two tortoises in the sidecar while mum and dad rode the bike from Potters Bar to Cornwall.
I passed my motorcycle test on a Honda 90 sport at the tender age of 16 - it was a lot easier in those days. My bike got me to work for a year from my home in Potters Bar to Hawker Siddeley in Hatfield where I was an apprentice. As soon as I was 17 I passed my driving test and got my first car. The bike was used for fun for a year or so and then sold, I then got a 1950s BSA 125 Bantam as a project, my uncle taking it on and putting it back together.
The next time I took to two wheels rather than four was in 1979 when, having had our first baby and only able to afford one car, I used to ride my Suzuki 200 two stroke to and from work from Longhope to Mitcheldean every day – a distance of little more than two miles. Life moved on and we moved to live in France in 1982. The bike was shipped over for us, again so I could (occasionally) ride to work and Kim could have the car, but once she got her 2CV I didn’t need or want to ride to work. After shipping it back again in 1985, we sold it.
Many, many years later in 2005 when our son Tom volunteered to work at Odanadi for a year we went to visit him, and both the girls and boys home which, at that time, was a few wooden huts. They had just had a power supply fitted – in very Indian style. That’s how our connection to Odanadi, and much later Adventure Ashram, began.
Last year we decided to take part in the UK Rally in Llandrindod Wells. Close to home and in a beautiful part of the world we didn’t need a lot of persuading, and we wanted to support Tom again who was talking about his volunteering experiences at Odanadi. I drove my red 1986 Porsche 911, but confess to being very impressed by all the bikes. Not long after that event we learned about Back to the Future and Kim suggested it would be a great adventure to take part – we are at an age now where we are looking for more adventures! I had a conversation with Alex and decided I could probably mange it and booked a place – not having ridden a bike since mid 1980s!
These days I am old and relatively sensible and, wanting to make sure I could still ride a bike, went on a local Back to Biking course in Gloucester. As I didn’t fall off and could remember (with some good advice) how not to kill myself, we decided it might be an idea to buy a bike to practice on before launching myself at Back to the Future. Again, a fairly sensible choice based on price, re-sale value and safety, I bought a Honda NC750 in July 2016 (PHOTO 4) and then went on more courses, Biker Down and Bike Safe, with the local police. I also joined the local gym as I really didn’t feel fit enough to handle even this pretty easy to ride bike!
The 2017 Adventure Ashram UK Rally was my first big adventure on my bike, only having ridden to places I knew and not much more than 100 miles at a time. I felt very pleased with myself as I navigated my way to Great Yarmouth - a 250 mile trip. Not only that, I completed the Rally and then made my way home again. Result!! Top Tri
I’m now feeling really excited about my next Adventure – Back to the Future and thinking of renting a Royal Enfield locally for half a day so I am ready. Can’t seem to lose my sensible hat!
To be continued……….
Graham Spencer, Adventure Ashram Supporter