My years in the saddle

STEPHEN WOOD, former production editor of the International Express, recalls his lifelong love affair with big bikes … and finds himself featured in the pages of Motor Cycle News

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Being a lifelong motorcyclist and tiresome self-publicist I sent this snap to Motor Cycle News for their My First Bike feature. It appeared this week (28/03/18).

It was taken at the Seven Stars pub, Shincliffe, County Durham, en route from London to north Scotland when I was on the Daily Express night picture desk with Dave Marvin, Harry Brown and Terry Evans.

It wasn't my 'first bike' but it was my first great bike, used daily for travel to the Fleet Street building when it was still OK to park in the vanway! Until some bastard stubbed out a fag on that fine cherry-red metallic paint.

I sold the Norton to the great Vic Blackman, DE Chief Photographer, when I left the Daily for a spell subbing up north, on the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. After that it was all Japanese and German machinery.

Vic was a passionate biker and ran a BMW R100RS which he used for work whenever possible. Always grateful to him for introducing me to electrically-heated motorcycling gloves. Rider heaven! Rather more important now than then, as arthritis creeps in

Somewhere, if I can find it, there's a snap of actor Edward Woodward with my old Norton. I'm not sure whether Vic sold it to the Wicker Man star or used it as a prop.

The pub (website pic above) is still open and looks much the same. The only change is reduction of the speed limit from 40mph to 30 on the High Street.

I'm still riding — a Kawasaki Versys 1000GT (below). Beats the pants of the old Norton … but we have moved on 44 years.

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