A short story by Vince, written 1982
The heat from the ground rose defiantly, shimmering above the winding road, the distortions playing havoc with the clear cut edge of the tarmac strip.
A feint roar could be heard from the distant horizon. The noise grew louder and louder, now heard well above the relentless chanting of the birds and insects. A glint of light was caught in the distance and as the rumble drew closer it could be observed that a motorcyclist, resplendent in his white leather jacket, was riding his mount rapidly towards the ancient monument half a mile away.
As the rider rode faster into the foreground it could be observed that this was no ordinary day tripper. The open megaphone type exhausts echoed a note reminiscent of track racers, the rapid acceleration shattered only by the tortuously hard braking for his next corner belayed an experienced street racer. Each gear change was just a flick from his right boot just a fraction of momentum lost. At every corner the hot black rubber of the tyres scrabbled for grip, the footrests causing sparks to be flown from the tarmac. Then again the rider pulled upright rapidly towards the next bend in an ecstasy of speed and tormented delight.
This frantic moment of riding soon came to a close. The rider having pulled out of a sweeping right hander screwed open the throttle, laid on the tank and watched the long straight unfurl in front of him. The speedometer needle indicated seventy, eighty, …ninety passed as his right foot forced the next gear into operation. The black chromed exhausts bleated out in beautiful harmony as one-hundred and ten showed. Ton-twenty and the motor screamed for more, the airstream battling with the rider for control of the machine.
The needle peaked at one-hundred and twenty-five as the next bend loomed into the distance. Within a split second the rider’s right hand was gripping the brake lever. The motion abruptly spoiled as the black calipers grabbed the shining twin front discs. The front end dropped as the weight fell on the front wheel, the forks diving in pain as ninety, seventy, fifty passed. Then a quick gear change and the bike cruised gently round the next bend.
Now that the riding was more sedate the details of man and machine could be seen. The rider wearing his black crash helmet, bearing the mark of a Greek God painted delicately in gold, faded blue jeans and studded leather boots was haunched over a mainly black bike.
The heart of the bike, a mighty V-twin motor, thumped it’s power through a huge chain and was converted to power by a massive oversize rear tyre. The front end, braced by two powerful looking forks, boasted a huge tyre, twin discs and rather unsubstantial but neat looking mudguard. Above, the double headlights were gripped in a small nose fairing suggesting night racing but were taped over as it was a sunny afternoon.
Above the unburstable black motor lay a shiny, glimmering petrol tank. As with the rest of the machine it was gloss black and only the golden letters broke the monotony. The name reminiscent of by-gone days where the engine once ruled the roads, now emblazoned on the most beautiful bike in the world, read…VINCENT.
Vince was proud of his bike. Very proud. He had read how customers spend hundreds of pounds and thousands of hours churning out visually appealing machines, only to be torn to pieces and then re-built in time for the next custom show. Also, like it as not, they don’t run, or can’t because they have sixty-nine carat gold plate on the rear sprocket or something.
But Vince’s bike ran, and it ran well. He remembered how his old CX500 used to bounce and weave along this, his favourite stretch of road. Even the Suzuki GS750 seemed to wallow above eighty on these curves. But his Vincent, that he was riding now, seemed to eat potholes and white lines as though it were stood still on a bowling green. Most bikes seemed like a roller-coaster on speed compared to this machine.
And what a machine it was. A speed machine, an accelerating machine, an enthusiast’s machine, a reliable machine…? Vince pondered on this for a while as the shining black beauty purred slowly into town, the passers-by admiring the immaculate lines and enviously noticing the smug look of it’s pleased rider. The reliability, he thought, was probably the machine’s weakest point, although this would probably be complimenting it’s other features. The speed was electrifying, the finish superb, the handling perfect. Even the fuel consumption was favourable compared to the modern multis.
In reality, Vince thought, nothing should go wrong with his bike. After all he had built the engine and bike from scratch, so he knew it inside out. He remembered how his grandfather had nearly thrown out the old engine. Now neatly restored, painted black and brightly polished it looked like it had been brought just yesterday. It’s one-thousand cc’s of sheer muscle seemed to ooze character as it fired it’s cylinders in turn after every second lamppost on the pavement. Beautiful, Vince thought.
Up ahead were traffic lights. They were about forty yards away by now and Vince knew that if he opened the throttle the black sensation would roar easily through before the red, even if the amber showed up now, but he was in no hurry. Vince used to scream along at fifty or sixty in town on the Suzuki thinking he was a king, but on this machine he knew he was and therefore had no need to prove it. He casually glanced down at the large Smiths speedo and read twenty-seven miles an hour.
Sure enough the lights turned red and Vince pulled up resting his front wheel just short of the white line. The traffic system was a slow one so Vince knew he would be able to look around, revelling in the fame this bike seemed to bring him. When he stopped in the street it was almost as if every male over the age of fifty had owned one when they were young. So strange that there was only one other Vincent in the country now.
He noticed his reflection in the mirrored glass of a shop front, the bike’s weight resting gently on his left boot. Vince placed his right foot down and raised his left, seeing his reflection as though he were riding. He crouched low over the tank and smiled as he imagined Brands Hatch wind around in front of him, the chequered flag waving as he passed the finishing line well ahead of the competition.
Today however, the only competition was the buzzing RD250 that had pulled up right next to him.
The Yamaha was the usual two-fifty seen around suburban streets. Vince himself had owned something similar when he had started motorcycling just a few years ago. This model, being about two years old now, and obviously thrashed, was naturally tatty. The scratches, twisted footrests and bent handlebar levers seemed to compliment the Vincent perfectly.
The rider too was the standard eighteen-year old Vince had been three years back, with his painted polycarbonate hat and Foster-Grants. A wry smile told the message Vince was expecting. The rider rocked backwards and forwards revving his engine and grinning widely. This guy wanted a race.
Vince casually clicked the gear-lever into first and gave a quick blat of the motor to show the competition that he meant business. The revolutions died down to it’s normal thumping tick-over as he held in the clutch and watched the ominous red light.
The Yam owner was now sweating. He loved racing cars and bikes away from the lights and considered himself good at the ‘sport’. After all he had only been beaten once and that was because he had missed a gear. A criminal act in the unwritten law of street racing. And today he was challenging no ordinary Escort. This black monster next to him seemed to ooze power, even stood still. His eyes locked onto the lights, only blinking to remove the sweat gathering on his eyelids.
Suddenly the red light was joined by the amber. The Yamaha owner dropped his clutch holding five-thousand revs. The front wheel pawed the air, nearly sending the rider off the back. Seven-thousand on the clock and the rider plucked his next gear from the box, the front wheel again falling to the ground. Another seven-thousand was showing and again the front tyre was losing traction with the tarmac as the rider flicked a higher ratio into operation in a frantic dash for victory.
The red and amber had now dissolved and had been replaced by green and Vince knew he could now start. He had not been tempted to jump the lights with his opponent, after all he did have the capacity advantage over the Yamaha. He noticed that the other rider was across the other side of the junction and was only about fifty yards away from the narrowing gap, caused by the parked cars, which they were racing for.
The huge motor only showed two-and-a-half thousand on the tachometer when he slipped the light clutch away from the left handlebar. He knew that he had over seventy miles an hour in this gear so it was now down to his right hand. Vince preferred to release clutches gently and let the motor do the work rather than lose valuable forward motion trying to control senseless wheelies.
The tachometer was showing four thousand now and the scorching black rubber of the rear tyre was acting like a clutch as a plume of white smoke emitted from the back. Vince leaned forward onto his forearms to prevent the aerobatics of the front end and watched as the little Yamaha appeared to be coming back towards him.
It was now only twenty yards to that gap and the Yam had the best line, with the rider obviously happy as he seemed well ahead. Having jumped the lights and gained that extra twenty or thirty yards he was confident that it would take something pretty special to beat him past that red Cortina parked ahead. The juggernaut approaching the other way prevented any alternative route and as his front wheel was way ahead of any competition, which was the only thing that mattered, he guessed that the other rider was braking fiercely.
The competition, however, was something pretty special and Vince wasn’t going to loose easily. The gap may have been only fifteen yards away and they may have been travelling well above fifty by now but Vince knew that his bike only needed a gap of about nine feet to get through and saw that his front wheel was in line with the Yamaha’s rear and he was accelerating like he had never experienced before.
With the throttle against the stop and the motor now screaming in delight he was being physically stretched by the power. His arms seemed to be pulling from their sockets and his eyes watered with the pain at the tremendous G-force, pushing him against the moulded seat hump.
The bikes were level now and the red Cortina seemed all too near. With his acceleration Vince knew that if he were to back off now he would have no time to stop or swerve. It was now or never. His right hand forced the throttle harder against it’s stop causing the rubber to twist painfully, as the bikes edged closer together, the gap drawing nearer. Now even the Vincent’s front end lifted as the two battled for first place.
Luckily for Vince his front wheel was now ahead, but the Cortina was very close, however, rules are rules and he decided to swerve towards the gap, just missing the car by a few inches. The Yamaha rider sensed this and threw his right fist forward, shutting off the throttle and grabbing the brake lever. The tiny black caliper clutched it’s shining disc and sent a thin black run of rubber down the tarmac.
Vince had won, but only just.
Further on down the road the mighty Vincent pulled up at another set of traffic lights. It burbled away on tick-over as it’s last competitor silently drew up next to it.
Vince looked at the Yamaha’s owner and smiled confidently. The rider gave a return nod.
“Thanks.” Replied Vince.
“Quick…” he continued “…isn’t it?”
“Quick enough.” Confirmed Vince.
“What is it?” Asked the Yam owner, as the lights turned to green.
“A dream come true.” Vince replied, dumping the clutch. The mighty motor again responded and he roared off into the distance…
Author: Vince Poynter
From the Fiction section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 17 Aug 2018
Written in the early eighties but first published in Mar 2010
The first half written in 1982 for an article in Southampton and District Motorcycle Club magazine under the title The Ultimate Ride with the remaining penned to fit the requirements of Bike magazine, but sadly never published meaning the writer had to get a proper job
At the time of writing the Southampton and District Motorcycle Club was based in Woodside Avenue in Eastleigh. It can now be found via sdmcc.net
The header photograph shows the author squatting next to an immaculate Vincent Rapide motorcycle. The Rapide was produced between 1936 and 1955 and remains a collectable bike. The more famous, faster Black Shadow model had black enamelled engine casings. The photo was taken by the author’s wife in Skegness in April 1996
The sketch was drawn by the author to demonstrate the bike envisaged in the story. It was influenced by the Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle’s V-twin motor sat in a frame similar to the eighties Moto-Martin CBX1000. Also there is just a bit of Ogri in it. Orgi was a cartoon character drawn by Paul Sample for Bike Magazine between 1972 and 2009. Ogri actually rode a Norvin, a Vincent engined Norton café racer. Actually he didn’t as he was just an ink drawn character. Ogri continued in motorcycle magazine Back Street Heroes until 2012