I was 13 years old when I first saw Barry Sheene race motorcycles. It was at Brands Hatch in 1979. At that time, at just 20 years old, Barry was an extremely talented and likeable guy who made quite an impression on me. I watched him race dozens of times and he soon became my hero.
That year, he won the British 125cc championship, which signalled the start of a very impressive racing career.
I would travel all round the UK to racing circuits such as Brands, Mallory Park, Cadwell, and Oulton Park to watch the racing. I couldn’t afford the tickets for the World Championship rounds in the UK, so I concentrated on the British Championships and the Transatlantic Trophy series, which pitched the best British riders against the best of the American team.
I remember riders such as Mick Grant, Peter Williams, Steve Parrish and others, but it was Barry Sheene who always stood out for me. The rivalry and races between the two nations teams was legendary and I got to see Americans such as Kenny Roberts and Randy Mamola battle it out in some fantastically exciting races.
Sometimes, I would be lucky enough to walk around the pits and talk to the riders. Barry was always cheerful and smiling and I liked him a lot. Despite his growing fame, he would always try to take time to share a moment or two with his fans.
Famously, Barry had a spectacular crash in 1975 in practice at Daytona. At 175 mph, his rear wheel locked and he broke his left thigh, right arm, collarbone and two ribs. His hero status was elevated even more in my mind when he was racing again just seven weeks later.
Barry went on to win the 500cc World Championship in 1976 and 1977. He certainly lived life to the full and gained (earned) a playboy reputation. A true sporting legend, he mainly raced Suzuki’s and Yamaha’s. It was no co-incidence that I soon owned a bike by each of these manufacturers.
This short video gives a glimpse of the man.
Barry died of cancer ten years ago today at the age of just 52. That was way too young for someone who gave so much, was so talented and so loved by many.
This blog was originally started to record a five month, 21000 mile tour of the US on my Harley-Davidson. I continue to use this blog to record my own motorcycling adventures, wherever they may be, along with my thoughts and opinions about motorcycling generally.
Having devoted most of my adult life to being a ‘company man’, the transition to the next phase of my life away from the construction industry was always going to include some challenges. Planning and then making my dream trip to explore America on my Harley-Davidson proved to be the ideal vehicle for clearing my mind of old ways of thinking and being. I rode 21,475 miles, in 27 US states in four-and-a-half months.
My motorcycling trips have continued, with journeys across much of Europe, New Zealand, North Africa and Cuba.
A few years ago, I set up and now run Tour1, which takes riders on Harley-Davidson Authorised tours across Europe. See www.tour1.co.uk.
I live just north of London in the UK.
Please note all photographs on this blog are copyrighted. Do not copy or use, in whole or in part, any image from this blog either in its original form or altered in any way. If you do want to use one of the photographs, then you must ask first and I will almost certainly say yes! Thanks for your understanding.
US Tour - My Favourites Places I Went To....
It is difficult to choose, but here is my list of the highlights of my US tour, in the order I saw them in....