Saturday, 9 May 2015
but, [there's always a but, usually before the bullshit] let me tell you what is happening in god's own county, or derbyshire as we call it. there seems to be a campaign to get the local bike night closed down. m.f.n. or, 'miles from nowhere' hosts a couple of bike nights a week during the spring / summer months, monday usually attracts more classic / custom / harley owners, wednesday is more geared towards the sportsbike crew, but, on a hot summer night basically everyone is welcomed from the local scooter lads to panigale trackday refugees, basically anyone interested in anything with two wheels. it's all cool, no attitudes even from the local hells angels who have a ride down every now and then, most people are supping an ice cold coke rather than quaffing vast amounts of ale, noshing a burger and chatting, chilling and checking out the bikes. m.f.n is the former shipley boat inn, situated down a private road and next to the erewash canal, it's literally 'miles from nowhere' no near neighbours to disturb, unfortunately the surrounding roads to m.f.n are all 30 limits through residential areas and the locals are up in arms regarding the noise and 'speeding bikers'.
i noticed it late last year, heading home after a couple of hours at m.f.n, the police camped at the end of the private road, not just the local bobby but traffic officers, they had the occasional ride down through the pub car park, almost like a show of strength, a.r.v's [armed response vehicles] and a quite intimidating prescence. i started to hear rumours of bikes getting stopped going to mfn a couple of weeks ago, then, i ran into big steve and gadger last week and they told me of their experience. both lads ride harleys, they aren't tear-arse's, just normal, bike riding blokes, [steve has six harleys, a suzuki sportsbike and an old sr 500 yamaha cafe racer in the shed, gadge has two triumphs and two harleys] on the ride to m.f.n they got a tug, the aforementioned a.r.v and v.o.s.a [the vehicle operating standards agency] the police can stop you, v.o.s.a can inspect any vehicle. steve and gadge had a torrid time, small number plates, [steve responds with 'thirty quid? i'd pay that everytime rather than ride with a placard on the back!' bad move, the fine is now sixty quid, but, they can give you a ticket for what they want, ker-ching! that's a hundred pounds then! me and steve go back a long way, he's always been a gobby fucker, but, i'd trust him with my life. the v.o.s.a man decides to inspect his bike further, vance and hines pipes! he shines his torch up the pipe and states 'ahha, there's no baffling in here, no noise retention at all, i can see your exhaust valves!' further investigation reveals no b.s marks on the pipes. a n.i.p is issued, [notice of intended prosecution] then the clincher, the v.o.s.a man informs them that they can impound ANY vehicle that they own, it's a £500 pound tow in and then forty quid a night 'storage' fee per bike, the 'administration' or, sorting the paperwork usually takes six week's! now, i'm no mathematical genius, but, even i can work out that's going to cost you a lot of hard-earned especially x8 bikes that you own.
the horror stories continue through the week, an old boy on a '55 / '56 velocette barn-find gets a tug by the same mob, no bs marks on his exhaust, [which incidentally he has bought through the velo owners club] he stands his ground and argues the b.s. stamping wasn't even out when the bike was made, no chance, a hundred and fifty quid fine for non-standard pipes!
mid-week i decide enough is enough, i go and buy standard, legal reg plates for all my bikes, they are horrible. i'm not trying to out run the law, the smaller plates just look better and are more aesthetically pleasing but i'm fucked if i'm going to risk having my bikes impounded.
fast forward to bank holiday monday, me and dangerous are sitting outside a well known bike shop, polystyrene cup in hand, quaffing hot tea and watching the bikes come and go. to a man, sportsbike / harley / streetfighter / cruiser / bmw, hard panniered, top-boxed tourer they gun it from the shop, rev limiter kicking in, wheely's and just anti-social behaviour, all in the 30mph speed limit.
i love motorcycles me, they are my passion, i wake up dreaming about them, go to sleep at night reading about them, spend thousands of hours working on them and making stuff for them, but, i feel we may be a tad responsible for our own downfall after-all?...............