By Dave Tooley
Way, way back in the very early 70’s, Marten committed the cardinal sin (in many eyes) of buying a motorcycle instead of a scooter. It was a little bumble bee of a twin cylinder 125cc Suzuki called a Stinger. Marten looked a bit like a pimple on an elephants backside when riding it, because he was rather amply built whereas the Stinger was more designed for a 7 stone weakling.
We decided one September day to pay a visit to the Race of the Year at Mallory Park in Leicestershire, and rather than hitch a ride up in Les Rafferty’s car as we’d done in the past we decided to ride up there on Martens bike.
What a joke, our combined weight must have been somewhere between 25-30 stone. No way was this bike ever designed to even entertain anything of that scale, but undaunted we set off very early one Sunday morning.
We’d only gone about 5 miles, when we began to realise the stupidity of our quest.
A thick blanket of fog came down, and within a few more miles Marten could not see a damn thing. I was getting pretty nervous on the pillion, because every time I peered over his shoulder it was like looking through a brick wall. He was navigating more by smell than vision. Our speed had dropped to almost jogging pace, and it was pretty obvious our planned 125 mile journey was going to take for ever at this rate.
Suddenly, to my horror, and with absolutely no notice I was launched skyward and into a hawthorn bush.
Slowly extricating myself from the undergrowth and trying to reduce scratches to a minimum, I called out to Marten to see if he was ok. He was busy trying to pull his bike out from the hedgerow, and I ran over to help him.
What he had done in the misty gloom was completely miss the T junction up by Fishers Pond. We had crossed the road at a gallop, hit the kerb and been catapulted into the hedgerow bordering a ploughed field.
Thankfully there was no serious damage to either us or our vehicle, so we just brushed ourselves down and carried on our merry way.
What I still remember about that journey even now was how bitterly cold you can become on a bike after riding for many hours. This seriously affects your concentration and ability to react to suddenly changing situations. All you can focus on is arriving at your destination, and the actual journey becomes a bit of a nightmare.
Every time I’ve ever dreamed of buying another 2 wheeled mode of transport, I’ve reminded myself about that Stinger trip and changed my mind.
Note from Marten:
All I remember from that trip was I overslept, and was awoken by Dave throwing pebbles at my bedroom window. The Fog lasted for well into the trip, but surprisingly we arrived in one piece. We both took turns at driving the bike, an experience I don't think I would like to do again. We eventually arrived and went into the pit area as we both knew Rex White (Managing Director of Suzuki GB) and Barry Sheene, so we had a quick mingle. I remember Agostini doing a wheelie down the track after his win, Jarno Saarinen was on form. The Westlers burgers were very welcome. On the return journey it was extremely cold. The petrol tank of the Stinger was located very low at the front of the bike, which was lucky in one respect in that it allowed us to both get on the tiny seat; but it was freezing cold on the nuts which were pressed firmly into the tank. It's amazing we both went on to father children, the first deep frozen sperm?.