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Article: A Father and Son Story

My Dad, the motorcycle racer

A Father and Son Story

I grew up in garages and workshops with the smell of petrol, the flash of arc welders, and the impatient screams of un-silenced motorcycle engines being pushed up to their red lines. It was, in retrospect, often an unusual childhood for which I have my dear Dad to thank! Dad (Derek to all but me) has ridden motorbikes since he was a teenager; he was a rocker in the 60s, a racer in the 70s and 80s, and continues to ride a mind-boggling array of two-wheeled machines.

Memories are often a fickle thing, but some of the most vivid of my childhood are the holidays that he and I used to take in the Greek Islands together, just Father and Son. A day or so before we were due to fly, we would Ask Jeeves to find us a two-week return flight with a villa or apartment bundled on a bargain holiday deal. In a matter of hours, we would be tramping onto the runway in the blistering midsummer heat of the Eastern Mediterranean, and before I knew it we’d be outside a motorbike rental establishment, haggling for a deal on some sand-beaten thumper.

Yes, Officer, of course I have a license...

Little wonder that my love of motorcycles in all their forms endures, and I have, somewhat accidentally, ended up with four at the time of writing. Ask any biker what is their “dream bike” and I guarantee that for the next 40-or-so minutes of your life you will be held verbally hostage as a baffling array of letters, numbers, and characteristics are thrown at you. Without committing the same sin, I’ll summarise by saying the top of my list has always been the Triumph Bonneville. Alasdair, too, has always had a love of Triumph (though his dream is the Thruxton), so when I started at Wingback last year we set ourselves the goal of partnering with Triumph Motorcycles, which we did at the end of 2023.

As a proud Bonneville SE 865cc owner for many years, my old man was particularly glad to see us partnering with undoubtedly the most iconic British motorcycle brand there is! The launch of our gift sets sent him meandering onto the Triumph website, and finally to the Big Daddy itself… The Bonneville T120. Now, I don’t want to point any fingers, but I will say that Mr Lagavulin and Mr Jameson might have something to do with the message I received from him that winter’s night which read: “Hmmm… I’ve always wanted a six-speed Bonnie. Maybe it’s time I rectify that…” And, again, as any biker will tell you, one is never enough. And so it was no surprise at all to find myself and Dad on our way down to see Dave Lilley and the team at Triumph West London to pick up his brand new 1200cc Bonnie!

We all spent a couple of hours chatting and swapping stories from back in the day, reminiscing about growing up in the garage, riding pillion on the back of dad’s bike. All in all, it was a fantastic day, made all the sweeter by the fact that I was able to take delivery of my own purchase; Dad’s outgoing Bonneville SE 865cc in my all-time favourite colour combo, blue and cream.

Father’s Day sometimes gets overlooked as a bit of a “Hallmark Holiday” but, to me, it’s a day that always takes me back to being 8 years old, perched on the pillion seat of an enormous motorcycle, winding along the coastal roads, in and out of the mountains on a Greek island. And that’s got to be worth celebrating.

So here’s to all the fathers, the dads, the papas, the daddies, and my very own Padre - Happy Father’s Day!

Tom, Wingback MD

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