Nick wondering how he is going to ride it out of the arena
Nick had always wanted either a yacht (only a small one) or a custom bike. As we live about as far from the sea as is possible in England, the bike seemed the most likely thing to get.
We had spent many happy weekends rallying and visiting shows where there were plenty of absolutley gorgeous bikes and it turned out that some of them were built by a company in our home town. I won't mention the name.
Whatever made Nick happy made me happy too and he had some shares he could sell so in August 1999 we paid the builders a visit. I needed no convincing that this was the right thing to do so in order to make sure he didn't change his mind, I paid them a deposit. We then decided we had better go and have a serious look at some Harleys so he could sit on a few and decide on an absolute specification. When we walked into Big Rock H-D there was a beautiful, turquoise and cream sportster sport sitting on a plinth. It was a very girly bike, but with a 1200cc engine. Two weeks later, it was mine.
I loved that bike. Now we were in a situation where I had a "big" Harley and Nick just had his old Virago and his commuting bike. However, work began and we were hopeful that soon his dreams would be realised. How wrong we could be.
The custom bike went way over budget and delivery time. We started to get nervous about what was happening very early on but it wasn't until we'd got a HUGE amount of money invested in a heap of very shiny and expensive parts that were just sitting on a workshop floor that we wish we had never started the project. With the help of a few friends we finally took delivery of the bike in year 2000.
One of Nick's first trips on it was to the South of France in 2001. Nick had called the bike "Grin Factor", meaning how good it made him feel to own and ride it. One of his main specifications was that he wanted a bike to ride, not just to trailer to a show and look pretty. But it really did look very pretty and in fact it did win one or two shows. When it wasn't in bits, that is.
The trip through France was another long and glorious expedition. We finished up at our second or perhaps equal favourite campsite -Camping Moto near Crest in the Drome. This site is for motorcycles only and deserves a future blog all of its own.
We arrived in style, Nick on Grin and me on my lovely sportster. The entrance to the site is slightly challenging; a potholed gravel track that descends towards the river and opens out into the gravelled area in front of the bar. There are always plenty of people sitting around chilling out and enjoying the sunshine, watching people arrive - always good entertainment. A free beer is always ready for new arrivals and very welcome it is, too.
We pitched the tent in a shady area near the river, had another beer or two and a meal on site. We took an early evening dip in the lovely pool and then, absolutley bushed and even though it was quite early and still daylight, retired to the tent. Barely ten minutes later we were awoken by German voices standing by the tent, discussing Grin. An English voice said how good it was to see bikes like this on the road and not just on trailers. Grin had obviously caused a bit of a stir and it was hours before we could actually get to sleep owing to the constant stream of visitors coming for a nosey, not realising we were in the tent.
We had a good trip home and Grin was remarkably pretty much in one piece. That happy situation didn't last long and after several years of fixing problems with it Nick finally sold it for a fraction of what it cost. The new owner is apparently very happy with it - he enjoys tinkering with bikes. Neither of us was sad to see it go.