Friday, October 13, 2023

Self-portrait of a Royal Enfield Scram rider

Self portrait of a woman in a mirror.
The Royal Enfield Scram 411 isn't just for show-offs.

 Nicola Farr was kind enough to write in explaining why the Royal Enfield Scram 411 meets her needs as an experienced motorcyclist who has owned a good number of motorcycles. 

I was curious how the UK resident became such an avid motorcyclist. 

Many women ride, but, obviously, motorcycle makers including Royal Enfield would like even more women to get on two wheels. As the maker of "approachable," mid-size motorcycles, Royal Enfield has more interest in this than most. 

Here's Nicola's reply: 

"Around 1973 I traveled to the states with my mother as a kid; the cars were fantastic just like the movies -- great big things -- in fact everything was bigger in the states and cheaper as well! 

"The UK pound sterling went quite a way; I don’t remember, but my holiday money went a long way. (Ed: The Pound to Dollar rate reached $2.649 on March 6, 1972, highest since being allowed to float in 1971.)

"I bought a skateboard in Venice, California, but didn’t have a clue how everyone stayed on the things. I still have the skateboard come to think of it!

"Visiting the usual famous places, LA, San Francisco, San Diego; we went to Disney and rode the famous rides. I was a wide-eyed 11-12-year-old.

"We drove everywhere in a Pontiac GTO. (I didn’t realize what a cool car it was 'til years later.) It was a brown-gold sort of color. We hung wet towels from the windows when driving through the deserts.

"I had six weeks of adventure and fun camping out under the stars with no tent, playing in the surf while bigger kids and adults surfed the waves. Hiked trails and even went trick or treating at Halloween. I carved jack-o'-lantern pumpkins, something we didn’t do in the UK; we used turnips!

My taste for adventure was well and truly lit.

"Back in the UK I read about a man riding around the world. He was writing a weekly column of his travels. His name was Ted Simon and he was riding a Triumph 500 twin.

"I had seen plenty of motorcycles when on holiday traveling the freeways (usually overtaking us in the car) and being told not to wave at them, otherwise they could follow us and cause trouble. (They were innocent days back then.)

"I was used to seeing old men in army surplus trench coats on bikes that leaked oil in the streets of the UK going or coming back from work. It felt like the UK was always wet, damp and foggy with the smell of coal fires in the air. It was so far from the bright sunny days of my vacation in America, a totally different world from my experiences of growing up in Britain.

"As I got older I often remembered the man who rode around the world. I tried to get the school library to order in a book he wrote but I couldn’t remember his name or the book's name, so it stayed a distant memory not knowing what happened to him on the journey.

"At 16 I was old enough to have a 50cc motorcycle. I had been saving for a long time doing chores and paper rounds delivering the daily or evening newspapers on a cycle. The day finally came; the motorcycle dealer had arranged with my parents to deliver the moped the evening before my 16th birthday.

"It was a blue Suzuki AP50 and it was the best thing ever made. I was up at 4 a.m., dressed and out. Nobody was on the roads.

Suzuki moped.
A Suzuki moped like the one that put Nicola on two wheels.

"Well there was one vehicle, a battery powered milk float delivering fresh milk to everyone’s door step. Then the men who cycled to the railway works started to appear on the roads and the odd car, and a few British motorcycles taking their riders to work, and I was part of all this action on motorized transport and it was truly liberating!

"I learned to drive a car in six lessons and passed on my first attempt. My father was happy I was able to do what I wished, so long as it was safe! That included having a car and motorbike. He probably preferred me in a car than on two wheels but he knew I had a burning desire for two wheels. 

"I passed my motorcycle test and was able to ride larger motorbikes than the 250 Suzuki TS he had allowed me to have after much persuading and telling him I would do advance police training on the bike, which he made sure I attended!

"This was the end of the '70s and I was noticing the opposite sex at college, of course. I was drawn to the hippie kids and my studying suffered. Bikes and cars were sold and others bought or I was being taken around by others who had cars and motorcycles. My family really didn’t like me on the back of some lad’s motorcycle and actually preferred it if I was the one riding my own bike if I had to be on one.

"Being a parent years later I fully understand their thinking but at the time it was the cause of a few heated arguments. Years later with my own kids I again realized why!

"I discovered the missing book by Ted Simon in a book shop one day. It was called "Jupiter's Travels." I bought it and read it twice! I also bought "Wayward Angel" about the Hells Angels in Oakland, where I had seen bikers riding all those years ago while on holiday with my mother in America.

"I still ride today at the age of 62; the family of my own have grown up and fled the nest. My mother is now 93 and still tells me to let her know when I’m back home on my bike! Some things don’t change: like the care for your wild-haired child who rides a motorcycle when she shouldn’t!"


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