Your Letters

Share your best riding stories, pictures and videos, tell us why and what you ride, let us know your best ever memory of bike.  If your email grabs us we’ll feature you in the next letters page, and if we really love it we’ll send you a little something as a random act of kindness.

Filling the void

A tribute to Cindy

Dear FTR,

I’ve been a gearhead my entire life… and I don’t mean just my adult life.

I was into cars and bikes and all things mechanical from the time of my earliest memories and would take toys apart just to find out how they worked. It infuriated my parents, but little did they know I was educating myself.

I met my wife during a ‘gearhead activity’ while cruising the main drag in my home town.

Mike2

A week before our wedding in the spring of 1976, we were up in the foothills riding with friends. She was riding on the back of my new Kawasaki two-stroke triple. Everything was going great until one of the other riders went down in front of us. We crashed too and she ended up with a gash on her elbow, and that was the end of her riding on the back of my bike. She pressured me to get rid of it. I finally did.

Fast forward 40 years. My wife passed away three years ago after a three-year battle with cancer. We were each other’s best friends. Since she passed, I’ve been trying to fill that very large void. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

Sitting alone in the dark, drinking tequila and feeling sorry for myself wasn’t doing the job, so I decided I wanted to get back on a bike.

Mike3

The closest I’ve come to filling that void is being out on the road on my a 2014 Triumph Bonneville T100, especially while riding in the Central Sierra Nevada mountains close to my home.

In those moments, I feel alive. Sometimes, she is in my thoughts, and I smile with the thought that she somehow knows I am still living my life.
I think she’s OK with me riding a motorcycle now.

Mike Lawless, Clovis, California

A loyal customer

Falling in love with the heritage

Dear FTR,

Twenty five years ago I walked into a showroom just outside London to take a closer look at the new models from the recently relaunched Triumph brand.

My eye was immediately drawn to a Trophy 900 looking stunning in Lancaster Red, and I quickly decided this was the ideal bike to replace my 1974 Trident 750.

There was always something about the heritage of the Triumph name that really appealed to me, so when the brand was relaunched in ’91, I was keen to take a look at the new range as soon as possible.

I snapped up a Trophy 900 and started putting some miles on it. The bars were too low for me, so I asked about raising them. The Jack Lilley showroom in Shepperton High Street fitted a pair of Trident bars as an experiment, which was successful. This meant the Trophy was unique, albeit for a short time.

After a couple of years’ ownership, the Trophy played a crucial role in introducing me to my future wife, Chantal. She had been invited to a cocktail party but was persuaded by friends to attend the Mighty South London branch of the Triumph Owners Motorcycle Club barbecue instead, where we met.

Hugh2

Two weeks later we met again at an event hosted by the newly formed Surrey branch of TOMCC and we’ve been together ever since. Without the Trophy, we would never have met.

One thing that always impressed me is the build quality of the Trophy. I was accidentally side swiped by a car on the Trophy – she suffered some minor damage to the fairing but the car had dents in every single panel down one side.

I still enjoy riding the Trophy. It’s still in great condition but has a charming patina that shows it’s been well-loved and well-used. Recently though I was drawn to Jack Lilley (now in Ashford) to take a look at the new range of Triumph ‘Modern Classics’ – the Street Twin, Bonneville T120 and Thruxton R.

It happened again. This time I fell for the charms of another red Triumph, a factory-fresh Cinder Red Bonneville T120.

I couldn’t bring myself to part with the Trophy though, so I’m now the proud owner of one of the first Bonneville T120s as well as one of the first Hinckley Triumphs, a great tribute to the brand loyalty the Triumph name inspires.

I may not be a regular customer, but I’m a loyal one.

Hugh Mackenzie, London, UK

Touring America

Trip of a lifetime

Dear FTR,

bill3

A couple of months ago my Vietnam buddy Garry and I left for a ride with our vet friends that we’d talked about for many years.

Gary was on his three-wheeler, me on my 2014 Triumph America LT, though I also ride a 2010 Thunderbird… both great motorcycles.

I was asked why I did not ride my T Bird, but I’ve got four Triumphs and have already ridden all over the south and to the Black Hills in South Dakota on her.

Back to the ride. We left at 9am and eventually hit Dickson, Tennessee, where we camped in a KOA camp ground. Next day, further west in Arkansas, we put up a simple lean-to. Lucky for us the weather was good. When we rolled up our sleeping bags, our first stop was a good old Burger King for the breakfast of champions.

We pressed west through Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. We rode some parts of old Route 66, some of it well kept, some very rough. Late one afternoon we found Peggy Sues 50’s Diner.

We got off Interstate 40 and rode into Las Vegas, Nevada. There I had my America LT serviced and do you know, I’ve never been to a bad Triumph dealer. They have always treated me well.

After we left Vegas we rode into California, our goal was the Golden Gate Bridge. After getting lost we made it over the bridge, walked around a little. I didn’t know it got that cold in San Francisco. After a short ride on 101 we headed north-west.

The land we saw was just too beautiful to put into words. I am a country boy from Tennessee but I could live in this northern California countryside forever.

bill2

Onwards through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, down through Colorado to Pikes Peak – at 14,115ft tall it’s 16 miles of road to reach the top. And when you do, what a view and what a ride.

What little air was there was nice and cool. Lot of snow. This is where we headed for home. We rode down to I/40 in New Mexico and turned east to make one more stop at the Route 66 Museum in Oklahoma.

Garry’s health had been deteriorating but we got him home. He’s fine now and my Triumph America LT was perfect.

In 6,015 miles we saw The Grand Canyon, those big beautiful trees around the General Sherman tree, the Golden Gate Bridge, Pikes Peak, the painted desert and so much of this great land of ours.

As for Triumph Motorcycles, I’ll never again buy or ride any other brand. My four Triumphs bought through Castle PowerSports in Madison, Tennessee, are the most trouble-free bikes I have ever owned.

In Vietnam we talked of this ride. We wanted to do it on Triumph motorcycles. Not all of us got to do it, but thanks to Triumph I did it.

For you my Brothers I served with in 1970/1971, we will meet again.

Billy Ivey, Tennessee, USA

Meet the Blue Meanies

For the friendships

Dear FTR,

Here’s something you’re not likely to see very often. Five Hinckley Tridents in one spot.

The photo was taken at the Kootenay RAT Raid in Nelson, British Columbia. Our riders group, Blue Meanies International, made up of guys from Washington State, Idaho, Saskatchewan and Montana, actually has seven Tridents, but two were unable to attend the Raid.

Our group of friends who make up the Blue Meanies International met at the first Kootenay RAT Raid in Nelson, British Columbia 14 years ago, enjoyed each others’ company and became friends.

About 10 years ago we started taking yearly 10-day trips together. Even with the distances involved, we get together two or three times a year and have a blast.

Our wives all get along and the group is very diverse occupation-wise, including a highway road foreman and an eye surgeon, and would probably never have met except for a common love of Triumph motorcycles.

meanies2

Most members own multiple Triumphs, from a 1952 Thunderbird to a brand-new Thruxton R. The group’s Hinckley Tridents are pretty rare bikes in North America.

The Canadians from the prairie love to come down and ride the roads in eastern Washington State, eastern Oregon and north Idaho, and we love to go up there to enjoy the wide open spaces of the prairie.

The group’s name came about on a ride when we were in a bar in Two Dot, Montana, which is pretty close to the absolute middle of nowhere. The barmaid asked one of the guys what the name of our ‘club’ was and off the top of his head he replied ‘We’re the Blue Meanies’.

We all had a laugh over that and the name stuck. I count myself very lucky to have met these guys and look forward to many more years of riding and drinking with them.

Bill Auvil, British Columbia, Canada