My name is Roger Bibbings and I have been motorcycling virtually every day since April 1965, having clocked up nearly a million miles on over 50 motorcycles (large and small). I live in Colwall in Herefordshire and work in safety for RoSPA at their offices in Birmingham. I usually clock up an 80 mile commuting round trip most weekdays on an old Honda CB500 and I use an even more ancient but trusty (and not yet rusty!) BMW R80RT for longer journeys. But when time allows, my real motorcycling pleasure comes from travelling more slowly on various old machines, including a 1954 Ariel VH 500 and any one of three MZs: the TS 150 (on which I propose to do the E2E), an ETZ/TS 250 hybrid that I use (without much success) in Class ‘O’ in MCC trials and a slightly special ES Trophy 250.
I was inoculated with the motorcycling virus very early on by my father who too was a lifetime motorcyclist, a fan of scooters in the sixties and also of the LE Velocette on which he and my mother did an epic journey in 1952 through France that was still recovering from the ravages of war. It was on subsequent holidays on the continent as pillion on small machines that I learned about the feasibility and pleasure of travelling slowly on two wheels and using the minor roads. You see, smell and remember so much more and provided you keep on going, you cover the same ground as those burning up the highways on much bigger machines.
A couple of years ago I helped my sister, Alison Falls, (herself no stranger to two wheels) to translate Max Reisch’s account of the first overland journey by motorcycle from Vienna to India in 1933. (‘India, the Shimmering Dream’ by Panther Publishing, tells the tale of Max and his passenger Herbert Tichy on an over-loaded Puch 250 split single two stroke making only 7bhp but finally reaching Bombay.) I have also just finished Peggy Iris Thomas’s ‘A ride in the Sun’ about her journey through Canada and the USA in the fifties on a BSA Bantam. I find these tales of slow and simple motorcycle travel quite fascinating.
So inspired by the idea of taking it slowly I have determined that this year I will finally find time to do the E2E slowly on minor roads and try and raise some money for the Red Cross into the bargain.
My personal challenge is to see if I can do it largely unsupported. It will be tough but hopefully another chapter in my motorcycling memory bank
‘Festina Lente’ (Make haste slowly) was what my father wrote on the flyleaf of a book ‘Motorcycle Engineering’ by P. E. Irving (of Vincent fame) which he gave me on my sixteenth birthday. It’s a good philosophy.