Monday, 19 September 2011

Book Review: "Big Sid's Vincati. The story of a Father, a Son and the Motorcycle of a Lifetime"

Very few “motorcycle” books ever get published, and when they do, they often go unnoticed, gathering dust in the more obscure and out-of-the-way shelves in bookshops. “Big Sid’s Vincati. The Story of a Father, a Son and the Motorcycle of a Lifetime” is just one of those books.

The main protagonist of Vincati is “Big” Sid Biberman, an ageing mountain of a man whose claim to fame is that of having been one of the foremost North American experts on tuning Vincent motorcycles. The book, written by his son Matthew Biberman (a professor of creative writing and literature at Louisville University) opens at the side of Big Sid’s hospital bed, as he waits to undergo emergency open-heart surgery after having suffered a serious heart attack. He has apparently lost the will to live and, on the spur of the moment, his son comes up with a plan to build one of motorcycling’s rarer exotic hybrids, a Vincati.

At this juncture I should perhaps pause and explain what a Vincati is. Put simply it is a Vincent engine bolted into a – fairly modified – Ducati 750 GT frame. As such it is one of those creations that give Vincent enthusiasts and Ducati cognoscenti apoplexy attacks. You can’t buy one of these motorcycles over the counter, so they are usually the fruit of a slightly zany mechanic’s hard toil in his home workshop.

Right, back to the book. Saying that this is just a motorcycle book would be over-simplifying it altogether. True, bikes run through it on every page, but there is more to it than that. It is in fact an account of how a father and son who have grown apart come together and learn to coexist – pretty much for the first time in their lives – thanks to the creation of the mythical Vincati, which in itself leads to the father coming out of retirement and resuming his trade with help from his son.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

On this day, ten years ago...

On 11th September 2001, the world changed forever. I remember turning on the television, and briefly seeing a plane hitting a tall building and thinking "oh, must be some scene from a new action film", then suddenly realising that what I was seeing was real and happening on the other side of the world in real time... I don't remember how many of the following hours I spent glued to my television screen, but it must have been quite a few, I'm sure.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. For me, there is one image above all others that sums that terrible event up for me. I don't know who took the photo, so I cannot give credit where it is due. May the owner of the photo's rights therefore forgive me for publishing it here at this time.

I will take this time to pay my respects to all the innocent people who died in New York, in the Pentagon and on the airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania, and also to the members of the NYPD, FDNY and New York Port Authority Police who selflessly put their lives at risk to try to get as many survivors out of that inferno.

Rest in Peace...

For a few years I was an active member of an unofficial Spanish Triumph Owners' Club (Club Triumph España) until divergences with a small faction of its members prompted me to terminate my association with the club. However, in doing so I left behind a good few friends whose company I enjoyed; over the years I have kept more or less abreast of club life at a distance, as an exile, as it were.

Yesterday evening, whilst perusing Facebook, a message appeared on my wall, posted by a member of the club who I still see from time to time. The contents of the message moved me greatly.

During this year's Club Anniversary Weekend run, one of the members lost his life. It would appear that as the convoy of bikes approached an intersection, the driver of a car that was waiting to enter the flow of traffic decided that he wasn't going to wait for the entire convoy to pass before joining the road. He therefore attempted to thread his car through a slight gap between two motorcycles, forcing everybody to take evasive action. The deceased rider was unfortunately unable to avoid hitting the car head-first, and died pretty much instantly.

The fallen rider leaves behind a wife and two adult daughters. I'm an atheist, so I will not offer up a prayer (nor will I ask anybody to do so - that is up to you), but I would like to extend my condolences to his family, friends, and to the members of the Club Triumph España, particularly those who were unfortunate enough to witness this tragic event. "Motosalsa" as he was known, is now riding free on the eternal run in the sky.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Shame on you, Nissan!

Earlier today, a rather disturbing commercial for the Nissan "Juke" was brought to my attention. It revolted me to such a degree that I instantly started posting complaints on Facebook and Twitter, and posting the commercial to the various internet motorcycling fora of which I am a member.

Afte a while, the webmaster of the forum (an unofficial Triumph owners' forum that is in no way linked directly to Triumph Motorcycles Ltd.) was able to confirm that the commercial originated from Nissan Canada. I promptly fired off a complaint to their customer service. I will be monitoring their reply to my letter of complaint and reporting upon it here on The Thruxtonian. Depending upon the way in which they handle the matter, I will decide whether or not to pursue the matter further, perhaps even in a court of law.

Here is the offending (offensive, even) commercial:

If you wish to complain about the commercial, you can contact Nissan Canada HERE

Monday, 5 September 2011

Once more unto the breach...

As you know, this blog is a one-man-show that I do on my own time (and just sometimes taking a few moments off my work). As such, it is subject to the demands of my professional schedule. It is also subject to the effects of my personal life and, since my last article in March of this year, this latter aspect of my life has been in somewhat of a turmoil for various reasons that I will not enter into here. Suffice it to say that I lost interest in maintaining The Thruxtonian and preferred to direct my energy and resources towards other ends. Indeed, I had intended to let this blog wither away and disappear into the forgotten meanders and interstices of the internet.

I have however changed my mind on this point and, despite the fact that my life - in both its professional and personal aspects - has not yet got to where I would like it to be, I am pleased to announce that The Thruxtonian rides again.

For this new stage in its existence, I will endeavour to make the blog possibly bigger and certainly better. Notwithstanding, to a certain extent it will continue to be at the mercy of my professional and personal life, but although the journey may be sometimes erratic, I will attempt to ensure that you, the readers, will be informed of any temporary interruptions. And of course, I reserve the right to pull the plug at any time. Life will always be more important than a blog.

It's nice to be back...


The Thruxtonian