Sunday, May 01, 2011

TRAINING DAY

Vintage vehicle clubs across the globe are gripped with fear that the current, aging generation of their membership represent the 'last wave' of people interested in actually using old cars/motorcycles.  We are generations past the utility or even remembrance of using the earliest motorcycles, and events like the Pre-1916 and Pioneer Runs are sometimes the only airing a really old bike will have during the year.  And the average age of club members is going up, up, up.
How to involve a new generation of riders to the game?  If you, on your 1957 BSA or '38 BMW, and do not express the visceral joys of riding an imperfect machine to a youngster, who has only experienced the perfection which is every motorcycle nowadays, how will they know what they are missing?
The VMCC in England is experimenting with 'Training Days', in which, for the princely sum of £30, 50 riders have the opportunity to ride at least 15 different old bikes, twice each, around a simple course.  The machines at the May 1st event at Arborfield army base in Reading ranged from a 1910 belt-drive Triumph to a 1936 Royal Enfield 1100cc v-twin with sidecar.
Riders learned the skills of using a lever throttle, hand-shift, dummy-rim brakes, foot clutches, decompressors, ignition advance levers, etc, each instructed briefly by the owner of the machine, standing by to fill in the newbie on the drill.
Every rider looked to be having a really good time, and the bike's owners were patient and took minor problems in stride.  A Douglas 'Aero' seized briefly from too-slow running, a Rudge-JAP lost a shift lever pin, some bikes oiled plugs, but these were all dealt with, and the machines kept circulating.
I can't think of a better way for every Vintage club to reach out for new members.  Kudos especially to the owners of these machines, who loaned/risked their treasures for the day, knowing the greater good was served.

18 comments:

The 9/16ths said...

We go to a rally every year at The Crown at Hesket Newmarket in Cumbria on the weekend of 28may. It's great to see these guys, young and old, ride their machines while you sup a pint of Doris' 90th Birthday ale.

Anonymous said...

AH!
This program needs to come to the USA, my state, and preferably within a reasonable driving distance.
Seriously, please.
I think the hardcore fans are too scattered around the US unless an event like this were held at a classic bike rally.
DING!

Anonymous said...

Huge kudos to the VMCC. The same needs to be done here in America (and elsewhere). -JZ

Anonymous said...

Man, I wish there was an event like this in the Boston area...

Grandpa Jimbo said...

Paul:
If I thought I could interest a younger person than myself (at least under 40) in owning a vintage motorbike, I think I would charge less than £30 (about $50US I think) to let them pilot my Velo around a closed course. Model airplane clubs have been doing this for decades. For free. Personally, I think it's a grand idea worthy of pursuing here in the States. Jim A.

mp said...

I do wish more of the "Younger" generations would get into these things. One of the main reasons is the price of old gear, and the knowledge required to maintain/aqquire/make parts etc.
Old guys grew up with these bikes, and they often still have all the gear that cost them peanuts back in the day. And their network of mates.
My generation grew up with Japanese bikes.
If You have stacks of money Your'e good to go. If not You need excessive enthusiasm instead ha ha.

smitty said...

Brilliant! I wish I'd known in advance. I would've made my first trip to the UK around this. I haven't been there yet but soon.

David Blasco said...

We tend to be most nostalgic for periods we witnessed as children. These were the times we saw adults doing attractive things and we wanted to participate and promised ourselves that, someday, "I'm going to have one of those." Time marches on. So, yes, I think it is logical to assume that many of the older machines will find spots in museums rather than see active use. Events like this are to the good.

drsprocket said...

Paul, I taught the m/c state safety program here in Cal for quite a few years and think that is were they need to start here in the states. Basics first. I know Matt Olsen with the AMCA youth program has started something like the British model for older machines but on a far smaller scale. Bravo for their program. Rich

Anonymous said...

Amen to Jimbo's comment. If there's a real fear of not having "the next generation," then free should not be unrealistic, especially if there are generous owners already willing to loan their mounts. - Jed

Maya said...

It is A Nice Blog

occhiolungo said...

ahhh, riding them sure is more fun than going to an auction! So if we all agree that we should have events like the VMCC training days in our own towns, what is the next step?

The VMCC events started slowly a few years ago, on the general goodwill of the bike owners. I suppose that is where we could start. Go to the next bike event in your town, talk to the old guys there and ask them if they are interested. You'll probably find that they will hand a bike over to you as soon as the question passes your lips. Don't be a squid and you'll probably get another ride and make some new friends. Then it is up to you to proceed further...

A Pisarski said...

I would like to experience this in Wisconsin or Illinois. Great bikes.-AJP

Anonymous said...

im 21 and my dream is an old bsa. the problem is the incredible cost.

LDNRMR said...

I'm pretty sure the fluorescent orange vests are whats really keeping the younger riders away...

camerabanger said...

Very Fine! I would of paid the price to do this...double the price. I am the guy who was at the Art of the Motorcycle with drool all over the front of my shirt. Remember? The opportunity to ride a dozen old bikes like that would be like a dream for me. Good Idea!

Anonymous said...

The cost is not a money earning exercise for the VMCC from what I can tell, it is simply to cover the administrative overheads and other fun things like public liability insurance (thank you health and safety executive).

I have found that if you simple express an interest in riding these machines at a young age to older enthusiasts at event and ride outs, an offer of a test ride on their machines will be forthcoming.

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