Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Godfather of Motorcycles

This is Floyd Garrett, without him I probably would not even be writing this blog. Many people have helped in my journey through the motorcycle community. There are countless individuals before Floyd and many enablers that came after. But Floyd is a Rosetta stone into the world of motorcycling for me. Without Floyd I'd just be another motorcyclist, biker or nothing.

In the beginning he introduced me to Jim Fraser, a fellow Velocette Owner that also rode BMWs. At Belknap he introduced me to Dave Roper and countless others. Wherever I rode with him, I was amazed at the people he knew or introduced me to. Whenever I had a mechanical question or just wanted to talk to a person with sage advice, Floyd was there. Fondly I can hear him say to me 'oh?..... you've got ROCKS in your head!' When I would do something foolish without forethought. And the truth is that I do have rocks in my head! But that's another story....

Within the first years of knowing Floyd, with his help, I became a motorcyclist and a mechanic that some might even say is first rate. Many a night I would call and ask about how or what or even who, if he didn't have an answer he knew who I should talk to. Every phone call is always the feeling of the student talking to the master. Not a mastery of just motorcycles but how to live as a peaceful human being. My spirit of motorcycling grew and the knowledge came to me. History and knowledge are always the central theme. Even as I write this, I know that Floyd will hear what has been said and I will know he has!
Also central to my education is Floyd's 1946 Velocette MAC. Floyd had done several road trips across America with his 46' MAC. His Velo has been there mile after mile; many a tale can be heard over a coffee or a ramblings at a show. MAC is the central motorcycle in all of Floyd's tales. I would spend many hours examining MAC and the patina that has developed. It's not everyday you can ask the owner where every dent, scratch or whatnot came from. This is a rare experience that few can stop to absorb in daily living. My first motorcycle road trip out of the U.S. was with Floyd. We had gone up to Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia to the Vintage TT at the Atlantic Motorsport Park on 2004. The races no longer run, but I can say that I've gone and been there.

At my first ride with Floyd to Auburn Elks motorcycle show, I was so excited to join in a ride with Floyd that I rode 60 miles in the rain to his house even though the show was about 18 miles from my house in the other direction. It was my first real ride with other motorcyclists. The rain came down steady on that first ride ; as I rode on to be at Floyd's by 7:30AM. When I arrived at Floyd's house, we waited for the other riders. I must have looked like a drowned rat! But to be part of this, my first ride, was just a slice or rapture and sublime; rain was all part of it and the true experience of the ride. After a few minutes of standing around the chill set into my bones. I'd stand in uncomfortable positions to keep the wet clothes off my legs. Floyd looked at me and asked if I'd like a rain suit for the ride. But to show that I was a true biker and that I was worthy, I declined. When the chill got good and damn cold, I asked if I could use the suit (it be warmer in a rain suit than just wet clothes!). Floyd went into the house and shortly appeared with a bright yellow rain slicker that a fisherman might wear. Upon seeing this Bright visible monstrosity appear from the depths of the house I rescinded the decision to use it. Floyd looked at me in a calm and gentlemanly way and said 'John, put the rain suit on'. A turning point within my motorcycling experience. Always wear the appropriate riding kit!
There are many other like tales; Floyd always could do so much with so little. He could make that little MAC look effortless. He may have been riding 55mph in a 60mph zone but in the twisty roads he could keep MAC at 55mph in the 30's mph! Always a consistent in his meter. At his camp in NH, He could make a stew that would chase the chill right from your bones. Floyd is my Godfather of Motorcycling, a educator, a true New Englander

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