Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Serving Time At The Kickstart.........

Pete called in again at mid-day, and then went off to Andy’s to fiddle with the GS650 Suzuki he bought the other day.

(One like this GS650, but with a bit more of a 'patina' about it.) :o)

He’s been polishing and said it was looking a lot better than when I saw it the other day, so I dragged the Harley out to at least let her suck some air through her lungs, and went over for a gander.

Yup, sure enough, it looked a lot better, and whilst we were all stood about admiring it, Andy invited Pete to demonstrate his fledgling kick-starting skills on the XS650 Yammy he was doing up.

Peter hasn't yet Done His time At The Kickstart, but is very keen to impress. I have to say, though, that in my extensive experience at trying to impress, and boy, have I ever tried, it's invariably something to regret at leisure.

(Andy and the XS650 Yammy)

Pete, and with some considerable optimism I have to say, swung a shapely leg over the snoozing Yam, gently leaning on her stand looking so quiet and harmless.

They often do that y’know,………. look quiet and harmless. :o)

It wasn’t the wisest thing he’s done that day, if indeed he’d done anything wise that day, which was doubtful. He'd visited me that morning for a start.

He Assumed The Position, with much settling the foot in the optimum location on the long kickstarter lever, and prepared himself for the first stroke. There's generally only the one location, but it's a biker tradition to seem to be choosing from several. It gives you time to gather courage, and/or consider if there isn't something else you'd rather be doing.

A manly swing was taken.


No life evident in sound or deed.

Another, even manlier swing, again to no avail.

Ok……… more ‘application’ needed, and this is where it started to all fall apart. He launched himself into the air, and descended on the kickstarter once again, with a mighty grunt that would've made any woman want to drag him off into the bushes. Mid-way down the stroke, the Peter Foot slipped off the kick-starter, and it flew back up along the Peter Shin. It was horrible to witness, it really was.

If you’ve spent your yoof swinging over a variety of spiteful big British motorcycle engines, and in particular Big Singles, by means and method of applying leg power to a kick-start lever, you can feel the pain quite acutely in your mind just by watching the affair. If, however, you've led a more sheltered and less colourful life, you will sadly be unable to share the experience as acutely, but believe me, it’s excruciatingly painful in the extreme.

Peter was obviously in considerable pain, but, to his credit was manfully attempting to line himself up for another go at it. I was impressed. A lesser man would've quit there and then.

Andy and I naturally encouraged Pete to overcome The Hurting with hearty laughter and several inferences that one simply wasn’t manly enough. I'm sure it helped him a lot, because he soon took another hearty swing at it.

And again.

And again.

Just as well he’s a Fit Boy.

Hope was taking the last train outta town, though.

You could tell he was gpong for The Big One, by the way he gathered himself, and then swung on it from great height, and in the most determined manner so far.

It’s unclear as to exactly what happened. Peter later offered that the kick-start suddenly had no resistance, and slammed to the bottom of it’s stroke, unexpectedly snapping his leg straight.

The vicious bitch must’ve half-heartedly fired. :o)

That his foot certainly slipped of at the bottom of the stroke, and his shin was in the way once more as it flew upwards again, was for sure-certain.

I know, because I saw it.

I swear I felt the pain before he did. It was pain on top of pain. Let me explain to the uninitiated amongst you.

The whole manner of kickstarting a motorcycle is inherently designed to ensure each fresh injury is directly inflicted on the exact spot of the one before, and more often than not inflicted immediately beforehand. There is also a characteristic of the activity which ensures that multiple contusions will pile up in a crescendo of agony, because of the rule of thumb that if it doesn't start first time it's not going to start before the tenth attempt either. There's something about trying to start a reluctant motorcycle which encourages the hope that the Next Time will have it running. It all adds up to a permanent limp. A traditional test of manhood sadly missing these days to filter and preserve the purity of the breed.

You could always tell a Goldie (BSA 500cc Gold star) owner, by the way he walked.

I digress............

Pete hobbled off the bike, and was quite beside himself………. Reduced to assuming a foetal crouch moaning away to himself. (I'm convinced I heard him mentioning his Mummy, but can't be sure-certain, so I won't mention it.)

(Pete, Trying to stand, .......bravely laughing. Mummy would have been proud of her boy!) :o)

I found myself clutching at My Parts in sympathy, but luckily I don't think anyone noticed. Why specifically at My Parts, I’m not altogether sure, but I guess it’s an instinctive Man Thing.

It was very funny, though, and how we laughed as we felt his pain. We boys are sympathetic like that y’know. :o)

Andy strode forward, confident at a superior technique, born of Many Years At The Kickstart, and swung masterfully aboard, as Pete-The-Defeated hobbled away to lick his wounds.

Andy, once astride, prepared himself with much gusto and a deep drawing on the smouldering fag adhering to his bottom lip. As a confidently determined a man as I have ever seen. I was prepared to be impressed by a polished technique.

(XS650 Yam. Andy, preparing with gusto for the First Thrust. Pete in pain, and trying not to be a wimp.) :o)))))

It was going to start impressive first kick.

He kicked.

And kicked.

And kicked, and kicked and kicked and bleddy kicked.

The breathing was a tad laboured.

Oh dear.

Things were looking serious.

Not in the least, Andy, as the smile became fixed and relatively absent of his easy humour. Suffice to say, he was exhausted after some pretty enthusiastic, and, it must be said, determinedly expert kicking.

(Andy considering the honorable options. Pete still in pain, but still unable to look us in the eye.)


Bugger –all.

Less than Bugger-All in fact, which is commonly regarded as Not A Lot.

Ok, then………. Plugs Out, in the time honoured tradition of having a face-saving rest whilst carrying out seemingly worthwhile remedial activity. One of those Man things, we all know about, but never collectively acknowledge. Plugs Out is one of the best, and for that reason, the most common.

We all agreed with a three-way conversation on the subject.

“Pete, whip the plugs out, while I take a leak” (Said breathlessly, .........and not in a romantic way either)

“The plugs?”

“Yeah, (gasp, sucks on fag, gasps again) could be the plugs. Give ‘em a (gasp, suck) quick clean.”

“Yeah, Pete, could be the plugs.” (Sips tea)

“I’ll be back in a minute.” (Gasps, draws on fag, gasps again)

Yeah, ok, could be the plugs. ………I’ll take ‘em out and clean em up then.” (Pete limps over with spanner in hand, glad of the distraction. Clutches at leg)

“I’ve had duff plugs.” (Sips tea)

“Yeah, so’ve I.” (Plug socket clanking on cylinder head)

“Several times. Had some new ones that were buggered, I did. Took three days stripping everything else to find that out, it did.” (Slurps big gulp of tea, as if at the memory)

“Yeah, I've had new ones that were buggered too. Plugs is dodgy things y’know” (wipes already clean plugs with rag to make cleaner. Clutches at leg)

“Yeah, they are. Wouldn't think new ones would be buggered, would you? Fuckin’ things.” (sighs, sips tea)

“Yeah.” (Puts extra-clean plugs back in. Winces and clutches at leg. Hobbles to one side.)

Plugs are back in again. Leads are on. All’s ready for action.

Hope hangs in the air like a damp sponge on a string

Andy reappears, adjusting Parts

Swings a mighty leg over the silently waiting Yam. Adjusts parts again. (Note:-Important, this, to hitch one's Parts well up out of the way in case one's foot slips off mid-way down, causing one's weight to be cushioned on One's Parts as one crashes down on the seat). Determinedly Assumes The Position, and, lithely for one so large, leaps onto the Yammy kick-start again.

He’s a Big Boy, and the Yam could tell it was futile to resist a determined man of such a stature.

It coughs.


Then it fired.

Just the once.

“Nearly. Must’ve bin the plugs.”

“Yeah, must’ve bin the plugs.”

“Yeah, c’mon Andy,…….. this time!”

Great joy and hope abounded in we three boys, and Andy applied his person upon the starting device once again.

BRRRAMMMM………It started at last, and a wonderful clamour it was, to be sure. Not as good as it could be, but then again one carb body is cracked around the pilot jet, so allowances were made.

Pete was still suffering, but bravely laughing the laughter of one who is pretending all is well, but knows all present know it isn’t, but are laughing, glad it isn’t them who are suffering.

If you get what I mean. :o)

You had to be there really.

And you had to have kicked many a bike over yourself. It’s an Old Greaser Thing. A common scenario we all knew and loved, back when you kicked these things over every sodding day.

But, like I said, …………you had to have been there. :o)

Nite nite,
K. :o)

Why didn't I volunteer my expert services?

Well, The bloody Enfield takes it's toll as it is, I'm a damn sight older, got dodgy everything but particularly the knees, and besides which, someone had to remain standing, and with enough breath to be able to speak, to ring the ambulance, didn't they? :o)

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