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#1 Jul 07, 2018 11:13 am

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Incident in Sligoville

An eventful ride on a pair of old classic Triumphs from Negril to Kingston

For the return trip from Negril to Kingston, I would be riding the Trident and Gerry the Bonneville, and we’d take the northern route back to Kingston, for no other reason than we’d taken the southerly route on our way down. We’d planned to set out immediately after waving goodbye to the girls at Negril airstrip, but decided to have one last dive off Rick’s Café before we left; so we didn’t head off until after one o’clock.We wanted to get home in time to see the latest episode of the hit TV series Roots, which was starting at seven, a whole six hours away. Plenty of time, barring unforeseen events.

Unforeseen event number one: The headlight of the Trident fell off, ten minutes out of Negril, narrowly missing a goat and smashing against a rock. We didn’t even bother to stop, but now we absolutely had to make it back home before dark. Still plenty of time.

Unforeseen event number two: The front brake cable snapped; again on the (friggin’) Trident. This time we did stop but only briefly, as it was clearly unfixable on the road. I still had the back brake, so although I’d have to take it easy it wasn’t a show-stopper. What effing else?

Unforeseen event number three: The clutch cable snapped, again on the (effing) Trident. A bit more serious this time but again, not a show-stopper. You can shift gears without a clutch, if you time it right. So now I had no clutch, no front brake, no lights and my sole stopping power consisting of one crappy rear brake. Nooo problem.

Unforeseen event number four: The Bonneville’s exhaust pipe came off. We tied it back on with a piece of string. So long as it gets you home. We stopped for lunch at Dunn’s River Falls and cooled off in the cascading waterfall. As usual we climbed to the upper reaches of the falls, where the pools are deep and tourists seldom ventured. We plunged into the cold water with our clothes on, and enjoyed the cooling sensation of them drying as we rode out of Ochie for Kingston. We weaved through the verdant Fern Gully, up and down Mount Diablo, then through a succession of tangled market towns: Ewarton, Linstead and Bog Walk. With me having no clutch and only half a brake we didn’t want to get caught up in traffic, so did some nifty footwork to get back out onto the highway with minimum fuss.

As it was getting late we decided to take the mountain route home, through Sligoville, rather than the longer but safer way through Spanish Town. Although it was a steep climb up the twisty back roads to Red Hills, I didn’t want to be riding on the highway with no headlight. We pushed on at ever increasing speeds, zooming round twisty mountain bends. Until….

As I emerged at speed from one of those sweeping corners … and my heart stopped. Dead ahead of me, a construction crew was laying gravel; a truck and steamroller were trundling along in opposite directions, with an ever-decreasing gap between them. I stepped on my feeble back brake but with no front brake to counterbalance it, all that did was lock up the wheel and sent me even more out of control, careening along the gravel.

They say that faced with the prospect of death, your life flashes before your eyes. Bollocks; it wasn’t my eyes that flashed before my eyes – it was my death. In clear and gory detail I saw myself crashing into the steamroller, tearing flesh, breaking bones. Then some primal instinct jolted me. I stepped off the brake and yanked the throttle, hard. Terrified workers scrambled as I bore down on them, screaming my lungs out (no horn). Behind me, Gerry was convinced he was about to witness the death of his young, stupid brother.

But it wasn’t to be! Miraculously, I found the one degree of safety between the truck, steamroller and fleeing workmen. Following behind me Gerry slowed down and bore the cussing from the shell-shocked road crew. And in Jamaica when you get cussed, you get properly cussed; starting with your grandmother and various parts of that saintly woman’s anatomy, and invariably ending up with accusations about your sexual orientation and lack of prowess.

Gerry and I swapped relieved looks and pressed on – slower this time. At the crest of Red Hills we stopped to catch our breath and take mandatory we-made-it pictures overlooking Kingston, and ten minutes later arrived home just in time to see poor old Kunta Kinte being loaded onto the slave ship.

Phew!

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#2 Jul 07, 2018 2:10 pm

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Re: Incident in Sligoville

Nice to see you pulled up a NEW tale.

And a good one it was too.

I hear this catalogue of incidents, and the first thought that sprung to mind was .... did he not maintain his bike?  Headlights dropping out ok, screws might work loose, and not be noticed. But cables snapping means no oil or grease. Navah had that on any bike... pedal or otherwise in life.

Maybe you are related to the guy that runs the bulldozer here that screams oil me oil me every time he grinds it up and down the road.

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#3 Jul 07, 2018 2:49 pm

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Re: Incident in Sligoville

I will admit I wasn't the World's Best Mechanic, a title I carry to this day, but these were ancient Triumphs, and that was Jamaica of the seventies, where spare parts were as scarce as good gold, and just as expensive. Old Triumphs would vibrate like hell, it was impossible to keep anything on for long lol. Like horns and indicators, no matter how tightly I’d screw them on with Loctite, they’d still fall off. And as for all those frivolities like speedometer and rev-counter- who needs ‘em? That’s the right attitude for a Triumph owner - so you wouldn’t get vex when they fell off.

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#4 Jul 07, 2018 5:23 pm

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Re: Incident in Sligoville

All a dat,   but they did have oil and grease even back then.

At one point I ran Lambrettas, with miles of control cables for gears etc.... you just oiled em... definitely NOT a mechanic.... smile

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