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In At The Deep End


(My beautiful wife edition)
As some of you know we are new to Indian motorcycles and new to Motorbiking full stop. My mid-life crisis was hinged on seeing an unloved 1946 Indian chief for sale in Connecticut and this instantly started (us) off on a path that we had never seen coming (but oh my god what  a great path to follow). We both started having Motorbike lessons in the darkest depths of winter in 2014, after we bought the 1946 bike and it was bobbing across the ocean.
First the CBT, which was my first ride on a bike for 20 years and Vera’s first ride ever….. We both thought how heavy our little 125cc bikes were and did wonder how on earth we would cope with the monster en-route from America. Any way we both got through the CBT, Vera did struggle with the yard activities, but got through …Then it was an instant switch to riding the 650 ER6 Kawasaki Bikes, I remember thinking I couldn’t hold it up without some serious concentration. For Vera it was a bridge too far, going out at night with a bike that was heavy and high, she completely lost her nerve and struggled, usually getting slower and slower as it got darker and darker into Monday nights. The main problem being the darkness and she was over processed everything , (where as if my instructor had said I needed to be doing 150mph and scraping my knee as I went round the bends then “I” stupidly will not worry about the consecences.) She did battle on and always dreaded Monday nights coming around. 
When she finally got to her MOD 1 test (which is the round the yard bit, emergency stop etc etc) she clipped the last cone and was absolutely heartbroken.  The owner of the training school told her maybe it was time to quit, however one off the instructors (Martyn) overheard the conversation and came around our house that night and decided he would take it upon himself to “make her do it” which included lots of out of hours practicing on the yard at our factory.  We even marked out the course in the carpark….and a few secret runs to Skegness on a Kawasaki with me on the back all seemed to help.  She then flew through her Mod 1 and was then getting ready for her MOD 2 (on the road bit).  Her confidence was really starting to pick up  and apart from the odd dropping the bike occasionally, which was basically down to her putting her leg out 90 degrees to the bike (goose-stepping) and by the time her leg touched the floor the bike leaned to far over and she couldn’t stop the weight.  She really started to get it and was starting to enjoy riding.  She sailed through her MOD 2 and actually got a miss-demeanour for speeding????? (Which after months off being told she was too slow) made both Vera and her instructor giggle.  So after passing she generally used the Kawasaki to go here and there all building up road time, she followed me to Skegness solo and really enjoyed the ride,

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Early after she had passed her test, one of Vera’s friends let her down big time.  So I suggested she come to work and try and ride her 1947 chief (which we had now bought her).  The sun was shining, it was a glorious morning.  After a full briefing from me, she set off down the factory road with the best foot-clutch start I have ever seen and did the most beautiful U turn at the end of the road.  As she clutched to come back the bike stalled. So I wandered down and kicked the old boy back into life (sadly neither of us noticing the bike was slightly pointing to the kerb) As she set off again (another good clutch start) she just clipped the kerb and unusually the bike lifted up onto the kerb (both wheels).  As it dropped down off the kerb into a factory car park the jolt of dropping off made Vera throttle up and 5 seconds later it was all over.  The chief met a wall nose on. Vera was thrown onto the bars and broke her wrist in the process. The 47 Chief somehow had managed to not fall over and was just stood up the wall still running.
Not long after the crash we (naively) headed off to Brugge on the 1947 chief with Vera being my pillion and technical advisor with a massive rucksack on her shoulders and plaster on her arm, We had a great laugh and some real memories were made.  We both learnt so much from that trip, like filtering through standstill traffic on the M25, although she did comment through the intercoms that filtering over an old exhaust at the side of the road probably wasn’t a good idea or squeezing past a Mercedes with millimetres to spare would not gain us any friends as the man looked really angry. We became quite good at catching the bits as they fell off whilst riding along, although there is a nice chrome Indian air filter somewhere on the M25…..It was an absolute brilliant few days and the memories will be with us forever.
Vera decided she would build up a huge amount of road miles on a newer bike before returning back to riding her old chief.  So we traded in the Kawasaki against a new scout (called Burt).  She refused to ride it back from the shop, but the very next day headed off to Skegness on her own (I was at work) and even came the “long way” home for maximum mileage.  She was like a Cheshire cat, she bloody loves Burt. She has only owned the bike since August 2015 and as of now she has done 3800 miles, with only one major incident which involved a wasp getting trapped in her helmet and repeatedly stinging her face whilst she tried to stop (and not drop) the bike. Her face swelled up like a balloon and looked like I had battered her.  Nowadays we are always out riding, she loves being my “emergency back-up”, when the old bike and me are on stop at the side of the road.  She will return to riding her Chief, but not till after the international at Germany at the earliest.
In essence I think she has become what I would call a true biker.  In the face of adversity and hardship she has endured, she still wants to get out motorbiking more, no matter what the weather or where we are going, she loves the new challenges motorbiking throws at her (some massive hills and bends in a recent tour of Derbyshire) she has become fearless about going anywhere.
Because it has been such a hard path for Vera to go down, she is my hero (and soul mate). Here’s to my wife VEE TWIN VERA TOWNSEND (my motorbike partner) and also to “Indian Motorcycles” and the excitement they have brought to us both…Long may it continue

Andy TownsendAndy Townsend



Indian Motocycles - you can't wear them out                                  Indian Motocycles - built to last  
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