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10th March 2003

The One Shed has been half transported halfway across the country. All is chaos. Frank Westworth discovers patience and the philosophical way...

Tales From The Big Shed

My old man's a dustman, he wears a dustman's hat…

It's all very well, but FW really needs a bit less of this...I had this great idea. No no, I really did. The great idea was that I would get all the bikes ready for the big move. I would assemble everything loosely so that Bryan from Church Stretton Motorised Bicycles and later the fit young fellows from Mr Pickford's on-going roadshow would have no trouble moving them into and onto their various vehicles.

It was a great idea. Honest it was!

It didn't work. The brakes on the big rotator (courtesy of Mr Yamaha, and therefore gratifyingly rubbish) had of course seized on, which makes moving a motorcycle onto a lorry difficult. So we didn't. We sort of slid it onto our own trailer. Ms H has muscles of steel. I whimper appealingly while she exercises these muscles. Sliding large heavy motorcycles about on slippery steel surfaces in the pouring rain is not only better exercise that working out in a gym, it is also character-building and restoreth the moral fibre. Honest.

Well. Nearly honest.

I am new to trailering, having long considered trailers to have absolutely nothing to do with motorcycling and me. In the same way that ownership of an Ariel Square Four fixed my aversion to mobile phones, so a trip to an auction cured my right-on antipathy towards trailers. I mean. If anyone is so utterly stupid that they buy a bike they've never heard running on the grounds that they're certain that they can get it running quickly enough to ride it from Somerset to Shropshire that same day … well, then they're stupid enough to deserve a trailer.

And of course as soon as you have a trailer it turns into the most useful thing ever dreamed up, and suddenly all your bikes needs trailering!

So, off to the excellent John Anderson with Rowena's Triumph X-75 for yet another bout of fixing. Then off with the Norton Commander to Church Stretton to ruin the life of Ian the spannering genius once more. Then off over to John Anderson to pick up the fixed (again) Hurricane. Leave the Hurricane on the trailer for transport to the new res, thus allowing Herself to ride her H-D MT350E down to Cornwall in a 270 mile rainstorm.

...and quite a lot more of this. New roads, here we come!How come I've never needed a trailer before? If I'd had a trailer for the last several years, how many more function-free motorcycles could I have collected and stored for that rainy-day restoration? Hell's bells, suddenly buying the Matchless X over at Andy Tiernan's fine emporium in the distant east didn't seem quite as cracked an idea. I'll just hitch up the trailer to the Range Rover, gird the chequebook, and head east.

But hang on. Where exactly is the motorcycling in all this? I edit a car magazine in these strange days, and could therefore justify hacking about the green and fairly pleasant in a car all the time, so where is the mysterious process whereby driving a car transmogrifies itself into 'motorcycling' simply because the car has a bike on a trailer swinging erratically from its bottom?

It then dawned on me that I've done almost no actual motorcycling at all in the last several weeks. OK, I've done loads and loads of motorcycle-related things, but riding? Hardly turned a wheel, except for running a giant chunk of American ironmongery down to the new res. That was good. I do not care what folk say about them, some of these large slow dinosaurs are very good to ride.

But I digress, as ever.

I really am missing my miles, my two-wheeled miles. Two-wheeled mileage is the mileage that refreshes, the ride restores, the fresh air unfreezes the smiles. Motorcycling is about all that, not just the peripherals. Shedding and trailering and rebuilding and jumbling and buying and selling and … well, everything peripheral ... is all well and good. It kills life's little burdens well enough and it distracts the weary worker from the grim realities of turning a crust, but it does not lift the soul. It does not turn a miserable morning into a grinning evening! Being absorbed in The Shed is truly great and fabbo fun, but give me a fifty mile ride any day!

Late May is an unusual time to be making a new year's resolution, but today I am making one anyway. I may like old cars and I may have to work with old cars, but I love my motorcycling. The move will be complete by the end of June (I hope!), and after that I will use the bikes like I did until fairly recently. I will shop on them, go to clubs on them, pop out for the papers and ride to the beach on them. I shall bore everyone with my healthy lungs and idiot smile. It will be great. I can feel the future.

With special thanks to Chris Read, Editor of The Jampot, for the invite to the Combe St Michael scramble. I'll take the Matchless G15CS. Or maybe the Sunbeam. Who knows? It'll be superb. No trailers…

That was The Shed that was. Maybe the next one will be built by someone who knows how to operate a set-square

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