Once a biker, always a biker!
My personal History on two and three Wheels
By Ralph Kratzer
Last Tuesday, the first day of Kurban Bayram in the Arab world, I was once again travelling with my scooter “Lulu”, a replica of a Vespa from the 1970′s (but with modern technology!) to explore the northern part of the island of Cyprus.
I thought it would be a good idea to be on the way during the public holiday, so there would not be too many trucks and buses on the road. They were actually not on the streets, but there were more private cars whose owners had probably attributed too much to alcohol at the traditional holiday visits to their relations. I’m really not a slow driver, but regardless, I have survived all the daring overtaking by the cars, some of them with wild honking…
I made my tour first to the old harbour in Kyrenia for a Turkish coffee and a mixed ice cream and last but not least for watching tourists… then afterwards to the newly emerging huge dam in Gecitköy where the water pipeline from Turkey will arrive. I actually enjoyed the ride, because I’m an avid biker since my early childhood!
When I was back home safely, I was reminded of my two- and three-wheeler past.
At the age of about three years I got a children’s tricycle. I probably had already at this tender age a penchant for daredevil stunts, at least I tried a wheelie with the vehicle, meaning just driving on the rear wheels, which ended with my father taking me on his bicycle (back then we had no car!) to the village doctor who stitched the back of my injured head and wrapped it into a turban-like bandage. When we came back my grandma fell into a swoon from fright at this sight!
At the age of about six years I got my first bicycle, it fared no better. I sunk it two or three years later, after a risky ride on the shore of the river Lech, which flew through my hometown, in the torrential floods. I was, thankfully, rescued by fishermen, but my bicycle was gone! The powerful reaction of my father due to this misdeed I can still remember!
But the whole thing had a good side because I got, after weeks of begging and through the intercession of my mother, a new bicycle. This was a so-called “Bonanza-bike”. Some of the readers will be able to remember these hot bikes with gear shift, off-road tires and “banana saddle”…
At the age of sixteen I got myself secretly, without my parents’ permission, my first moped, an ancient NSU Quickly with manual gear shift. Terribly ugly, but it went and I felt this certain “freedom feeling” hardcore bikers are permanently talking about, for the first time!
Then came a Zündapp KS 50, a great little motorcycle. With it I was the fastest in my gang.
At the age of 18, I was finally able to get a driving license for large motorcycles and bought, with the money that I had earned in the whole school holiday and with the help of my grandfather, a used Yamaha RD 250, two cylinder two stroke engine, 40 HP!
The happiness did not last long, because I was once again too fast and a car came my way. Total loss of the bike but no heavy injuries to me!
I was hanging around desperately because of this sudden loss and again my grandfather had mercy on me and after a few weeks of waiting and a promissory note, which I had to sign to him, the next motorcycle stood in the yard.
Approximately at the age of 30 years, I could indulge my passion for hot machines again. I bought a so called trike. For those not knowing what I am talking about, these are three-wheeled vehicles, half motorcycle – half car, and they make a lot of fun!
Yet only half motorcycle! A few years later I was finally able to fulfill my childhood dream. On a Motorcycle Show I saw her!… a Moto Guzzi California 1100cc! The bike that I always wanted to have. A few weeks later I got her. A dream of black varnish, stainless steel and chrome and 300 kilos heavy. The “Aunty Guzzi”, as I called her, would accompany me faithfully for over a decade. We made some wonderful vacations together throughout Europe and I gave her away, with tears in my eyes, just before I emigrated to Cyprus.
A second motorcycle that I thought I must have in addition to the Moto Guzzi, a Honda X -11, at that time one of the the most powerful series-production motorcycles, should become almost fatal for me. In the year 2002 once again driving too fast, I admit it, or let´s better say: “the road wasn´t wide enough for my speed”… again total damage to the machine and once more unbelievable luck for me! Except for a few battered body parts – no lasting damage…
And now in Cyprus… a scooter! In my time as an enthusiastic biker, I had no passion for things like that, they were vehicles for girls from my point of view! But now “Lulu” is fun! Although it has only a 125cc mini-engine with less than 10 HP, I can go everywhere with it and never have problems with a parking lot. In addition, it consumes only 1.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres of distance, a real alternative to the car at times of tremendously rising gasoline prices!