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Tales from a Motorcycle Saddle.

June 1978

Southern Ireland

Day 1 & 2

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Not quite a continental tour but it was over the water to Ireland.

The route, as portrayed in my photo album of 1978.

The route, anticlockwise from Rosslare Harbour.

A laden Bonnie

1978, at the time of writing, is twenty five years in the past but it feels like nearer ten. To write an account so long after the event is surprisingly easy as photographs are such excellent aide memoirs. For example, I was certain that the chain incident occurred just outside Cork but it was actually Waterford. My photo album of the time has some interesting facts noted. What will be missing will be the emotions felt at any particular time. There is no substitute for putting pen to paper immediately.

This trip was from 15th June to 23rd June 1978. The cost including ferry, accommodation, fuel and food was £110, although a repair to the Bonnie relieved me of another £17. Decided against camping as you can see and opted for B&B. I bought a combined ferry and B&B deal which restricted my choices of accommodation slightly but was cheaper than DIY. My bike at the time was a 1972 T120 Triumph Bonneville. It had been rebuilt with a chrome frame and a 1976 registration. I tacked a screen and luggage onto it and was ready for anything – or so I thought.

I took the ferry from Fishguard in Wales to Rosslare Harbour near Wexford, in south east Ireland. I can’t recall a single thing from the crossing or my first day in a “foreign” land. However, on day two as I approached Waterford, there was a loud bang and I lost all forward drive – the chain had come apart and the trailing end looped back on itself and tried, unsuccessfully, to go round the gearbox sprocket. I felt a bit helpless, as that chain was SOLID! Help came in the form of a youngster on a Honda 175 who took hold of the oily chain with bare hands and confirmed that it was truly stuck. He went off, saying he would contact the AA as I had taken out extra cover. A while later a van appeared with a trailer and my bike was loaded onto the trailer.

The only motor bike shop in town was a Honda dealer who did not what to know. Local knowledge is a good thing and the breakdown man knew of two brothers who worked on the Garda (Police) Triumphs.

Decided against camping....

Their workshop was an Aladdin’s cave of British bike bits. They appeared willing but a bit sceptical about achieving an easy repair. It was late afternoon by now and suggested I found somewhere to stay, have a meal and come back in a few hours by which time they will know if they can fix it.  Three hours later I returned to find my bike not in bits but all ready to go!! They had removed the clutch cover and engine sprocket to release the chain. They commented that it was jammed tight. I knew that! The bill was £14 which I complained about and they eventually accepted £17, still a small amount even in 1978 for such a swift repair. I wish I could remember if the chain had snapped or come undone. One of life’s mysteries I guess.

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