Wibbly and I together, high on life
With the mad passion of youth, Wibbly and I chased our motorcycle dreams like Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise barreling across America in Kerouac’s “On the Road” as we rode the roads and lanes of my English seaside resort home.
Mark Williams was the gonzo motorcycle scribe of the day, howling around London on his cult status Laverda Jota. We adopted his words as Gospel, attempting to mimic the life he communicated on the glossy pages of his latest magazine. Desiring to spend our lives “riding ’round endlessly on high-powered motorcycles and taking more drugs than Keith Richards,” we had lofty goals and worked hard in our manic pursuits.
Wibbly on his Norton Commando 850, Neale astride a 1978 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans 1.
We lived to ride and rode to live. We partied through the night, raging at parties till dawn. At the zenith of our insanity, Wibbly rode a Norton 850 Commando, and I was welded to the seat of a battle-weary 1978 Laverda 1200 Mirage, hopped up with Jota cams, bars, and pegs. Three trashcan-sized pistons sucked 105-octane gas and damp, rain-saturated air through filter-less Dellorto carburetors with the sophistication of a cement mixer, before hurling the exploded remains through a chrome Harris 3-into-1 exhaust.
And always it was Wibbly and I together, high on life, high on anything we could get our hands on, living for the road rushing beneath our wheels and the next crazy overseas adventure. Being thrown in a Canadian jail, the meatballs in Marrakech incident, living with the bank robber in Florida, dodging bullets in Nicaragua, the tachometer of our lives stayed buried in the red. Once we returned to our South Devon home after our travels it was back on our motorcycles, where we were soon shattering the peace and quiet of rural England’s small South Devon towns, not winning friends or influencing people.
Wibbly, Neale and friends out thrashing the South Devon countryside.
Sure, I’ve grown up a little, cleaned up my act some, and settled down just a bit, but I’m still out there somewhere in the world riding with friends, telling and making crazy stories. And while I have changed, the English coast of my youth, for the most part, has not. The same narrow tree-lined roads and stunning coastal vistas we rode look exactly as they did when I rode with Wibbly all those many years ago.
So, one of these days soon I want to ride those English roads with anyone interested to take you to see the places of my youth, and to also explore Torquay, the town made famous by Basil Fawlty, John Cleese’s crazy character in the hit ’80s TV series, “Fawlty Towers”. We’ll be adding on a visit to Land’s End and a walking tour of King Arthur’s Castle in Tintagel amongst many other attractions. Including a ride across Dartmoor, made famous in the famous book “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Arthur Conan Doyle.
One day I’ll return to the streets of my youth, somewhat matured and milder-mannered. Somewhat.
If you can’t make it to England, I’ll be back riding in Peru one of these days soon, leading an adventure ride on the same route we have been doing for more than a decade. A ride that takes in Machu Pichu, Lake Titicaca and the Andes Mountains, before dropping down into the Atacama Desert to visit the abandoned children of Moquegua at Hogar Belen. All rides on BMW motorcycles. I do hope you’ll join me.
Let’s see the world together, and help change a few lives along the way.