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Carr Hayslip tale
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a V.S.O.C. Newbie's Tale

It started for me in 1956, age 6, standing on my Grandmother's front porch in Dallas and watching as a clutch of bikes came screaming down Bryan St. with a noise like the end of the world - it was wonderful. My grandmother was giving them the evil eye and pursing her lips into a tiny sphincter of disapproval. She looked like she'd swallowed a wasp but I knew right then what I wanted to be when I grew up...one of those guys with their shirt streaming out behind them, Brando-style cap jammed on their head and cigarette clamped in their mouth, astride a monster motorcycle. I knew better than to admit this to adults of course. When asked, I wanted to be a pilot, or a marine biologist if I was feeling precocious.
My dreams of owning a Harley were severely interfered with by my family moving to the UK in 1963 but by 1967 I had bought my first Britbike, a lovely BSA C15 SS (or so the guy claimed)' the SS being a special with a higher comp. ratio. He was a police motorcycle mechanic but there was nothing about any SS on the V5. It certainly looked good, with all black and chrome livery, chrome crash bars and a chrome visor on the headlamp. See, I was already trying to have a cruiser. Stupidly, I sold this bike to go on holiday or something equally daft and that wasn't the last time.
Next came a little Honda 125 twin (CB125) with a pair of mini cow-horn bars. Revved up, it went like a startled goat. It had had a hard life by the time it got to me but a little cash (in the days when there were little motorcycle shops all over the place) and I was on my way. I probably thrashed it more than necessary while I had it and the guy I sold it to, no lie, rode it all the way to Morocco and back, two up. He said he saw the pipes turn white hot by the head as he was wheezing over the Pyrenees on the way back. He stopped of course and managed to avoid a total seize-up but it was a spent husk of a bike when he pulled into Hatfield.
Moving back to Dallas, I equipped myself with a nearly new 350 Honda twin pretend dirt bike (CL 350). It was fine for tooling around town but I rashly agreed to ride up to Oklahoma City for the weekend and wished I hadn't... Eventually that bike would end up mashed when a white Cadillac, running a red light, presented only a choice of where exactly along it's side I would bury the Honda. Over the top and into the traffic coming the other way. It was bad. In and out of hospital and operations and that for two years, plus another 12 months before I was out of a body-cast and able to stagger about Frankenstein's monster-style. One leg ended up about 1.5 inches shorter than the other but it never occurred to me that I wouldn't get another bike.
I was in London by now and I couldn't get my leg over an actual motorcycle, so I bought a Honda step-through moped. My morning trips across London could often be conducted at full-throttle all the way, buzzing in between the stationary traffic on the Euston Rd. This was followed by a Honda 90, still able to step through and a fair bit more speed. This bike came west with me and we settled in Bath. I sold the 90 to a mate and got a fairly new MZ 250 which served me well for a few years until I sold it to etc. etc.
Next came a rarity, a Bantam Cub, a mash up between a Bantam frame and a Tiger Cub 200 cc motor. It was a product of the dying days of both BSA and the then Triumph motorcycle company. The motor was basically too much for the frame and the front brake had a tendency to make the front forks twist when applied in extremis. I got a friend to make me up a brace in mahogany, bolted tight around the forks to keep the steering straight. They smirked at the MOT station but they passed it!
Eventually I gained an "other half" and although she was riding a Moto Guzzi 250 twin when I met her, bikes took a back seat then, ha ha, to a car. It was 15 years before we ended up with somewhere I could keep a bike and I made the first of many, many investments in a 1960 AJS 350 cc single Model 8.

I kept that bike, gradually fixing everything (!) that was wrong, for the next 15 years, riding it whenever I could until I got to the stage where now, aged 62 and well-crook, I realised it was time to fulfil my childhood dream (as well as to buy something with an electric start). I sold the AJS for about 25% of what I've spent over the years and bought myself a beautiful 2005 silver gold XVS 650 Dragstar Classic.

 It's kind of wonderful that we can still buy affordable bikes that look like they did in the fifties. It might have taken a while but I'm really very happy to be here.
Carr Hayslip

VSOC Member 6727 Centre 17, Wilts.