AJS Adventures

Riding a motorcycle at night can be rather lonely, says Greg Powell. Here are two experiences that he recalls from many years ago, one natural and the other (almost) supernatural…

One winter evening, I rode my AJS 18 over to Ross-on-Wye to visit my friend Alan. After a pleasant few hours and the disposal of several pints of Newcastle Brown (well, it was the 1970s), it was time to ride the twenty miles home.

Accelerating out of town I became aware of a low moaning sound that became louder as my speed increased. When I slowed down it disappeared and only re-started at around 20mph, in any gear. The fact that it was independent of engine speed suggested trouble in the gearbox area.

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Assuming a bearing was on its way out, I completed the entire journey at 15-20mph, with the aim of delaying the expected scream of its demise. Luckily it was late and there was only the occasional vehicle coming up behind me. I eventually arrived home very cold and depressed by the thought of having to take the box out and the subsequent expense, not to mention the task of making the primary chain case leak-proof again.

As I hung up my jacket, the cause of the trouble was revealed. Each pocket contained two empty beer bottles. The noise had been the wind blowing over their necks! Nature must have been looking after me by limiting my speed. Any half-sober person wouldn’t have set out on a ride with his pockets full of glass bottles, would he?

The second event was when I was riding my 1936 250 Ajay late at night through the Forest of Dean. This was a rather creepy place at the best of times, not improved much by Mr Lucas’ efforts. It was very dark and no other vehicle was about. I started pondering what would be the most scary thing that could happen. A ghostly figure in my headlight perhaps? After some pondering, I came to the conclusion that it would be feeling a hand on my shoulder and not being able to turn around.

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A few minutes later I was still wondering what my reaction would be in the unlikely event of such a thing happening… when a cold, bony hand contacted the back of my right leg and remained there as I moved it. I soon found out the reaction – hair standing on end, blind panic!

Slowing rapidly and looking down as soon as I dared, I found that the toolbox fallen open, allowing the lid to hinge open against my leg. Not at all supernatural, but what was the chance of that happening just after my thoughts? It had never done it before and never did again. I was rather glad to get out of the woods that night…

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