Wednesday, December 08, 2010

John Linford

He turned 80 a year ago. And we went for a ride on my GS 1150 BMW motorcycle this morning.

John began life on two wheels racing bicycles. After school in Pietermaritzburg, he moved to Durban where he worked to save enough money to buy a ship's ticket to London. Here he spent three years competing in bicycle races both in the UK and the continent. He found work as a labourer in between races to keep his finances going. He remembers his highlight was the Paris Grand Prix cycle races in the mid 1950's: "but those blokes were too good for us".

His next venture on two wheels was funded by working in the merchant navy. When he had saved enough, John and a friend bought scooters and travelled through Europe. His was a Vespa bought in Italy - "kick-start, smoke and gears".

Then he returned to Durban where he found his next adventure on two wheels as a traffic cop for the Natal Provincial Authority. He began on maroon Triumph 350's, graduating to the Gold 600's, before getting his beloved BMW 750. He wore a white open face helmet and official gloves, and went as fast as he dared.

After this he had employment as a salesman for Barlows, and a caretaker for various buildings - including a ten year stint for Rustenberg Girls junior school where the only wheels he drove were on a lawnmower.

And so it was with great joy that I loaded him onto the back of my bike and headed over a Cape Mountain pass to have coffee in Noordhoek. He sat very well on the bike and was a pleasure as a passenger. It was a bit of a scramble getting on and off the bike - but then again: John is nearly 81 years old.

A great "guys-only" morning.
Sent via my BlackBerry

1 comment:

Barbara Shallue said...

How do I get so far behind on your blog? I've just spent 30 minutes reading and still haven't caught up. This sounds like a wonderful guys-only morning and John sounds like an interesting character!!