Team Swift …. The adventurous Brits with some tagalong Canucks ….

When I’ve mentioned to people over the last number of months that I’m off to Bonneville Speedweek, many have commented that they saw that movie about the old guy from New Zealand! That’s right …. this is the same adventure where Anthony Hopkins portayed Burt Munro in the “World’s Fastest Indian”.

The passion, the bike, the mechanical and driving ability all comes in the form of Stuart Swift …. better known as Smiler. Smiler’s brother, also known as Swifty, may be better known to many of you reading this as Ian Swift, a friend and colleague who worked for many years with PwC and IBM in Victoria, and who recently returned to the UK along with his family, his bikes and an AC Cobra!

The happenchance meeting that got the Canucks involved, was an opportune email that I sent to Ian saying that Ann and I would be ending a cruise in Portsmouth and if he were around, would he and Kathyrn like to meet for coffee. The timing and travel gods worked out and we met for coffee where Ian mentioned he and his brother were off to Bonneville in the summer of 2014. Of course, I said right then and there that I’d love to go and watch them as good friend Mike Cameron and I had discussed this as a trip we’d both like to take someday. Further correspondence and the opportunity to be part of the pit crew was offered by Smiler …. And I signed up Mike and I without even checking with him!

So there it is …. Team Swift …. Stuart and family, Ian and family, Mike and myself. We are off on an excellent adventure with the guys feeling really great to have the support and blessings of our spouses – Vicki, Kathryn, Laurett and Ann.

To keep the pictures coming, here’s a picture of a young Smiler with his first bike …

Young Stuart

And here he is recently posing on the Bonneville bike.

Stuart on Aprilia

Over the last number of months, Smiler has rebuilt the bike several times, tested it, packed it up and shipped it to Victoria. It’s now safely in the hands of Mike and Dave and ready to transport to Bonneville in early August. We are well into all of the paperwork required to transport bikes and equipment through three countries on two continents and to have everything and everyone come together on August 7th to test our mettle!!

If you want to learn a little more about Bonneville Speedweek and setting speed records on the salt flats, here’s a link

http://www.scta-bni.org/index.html

More updates to come …..

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A Journey 50 years in the making …..

During the school summer holidays of 1963, I was enjoying the freedom and adventures that nearly every 13 year old boy desired growing up in a small town in Central Alberta. Days consisted of bicycle rides, pick up ball games, organized playground activities, exploring the local woods and swimming in the “swimming hole” – just a bend in the river. In today’s terms, I guess we were just “hanging out”!!

There was one activity though, that I was motivated to do every day! I was one of the lucky kids who had a paper route and every day about 4:00pm I went off to pick up my bundle of papers and deliver them. Independence! Although in today’s terms I wasn’t making a lot of money, what I did make was MINE! I could spend it, save it, waste it, whatever I wanted. My parents obviously encouraged me to save some and not waste my money (I’m not sure I ever really learned that lesson) and I managed to save some every week because I had a goal in mind….

My paper route was on the outskirts of town … I was lucky enough to deliver to about 6 city blocks ….. gave me the volume that I could get done in a hurry …. But I also delivered to about 20 homes in the “country”. This was a rural road with acreage homes that seemed to be miles apart. In actuality the total distance of my rural route was probably not more than a few kilometers, however it seemed a long way if I had to walk it while carrying those papers! My salvation was my bicycle. That ride in the country on gravel and dirt roads, cutting through ditches, fields, treed areas and along the riverbank became the greatest part of the day.

BUT ….. I had caught the family bug!! My father rode a motorcycle … my mother still tells stories of riding to country dances in England with her skirt hitched up and sitting on the back fender of my dad’s bike! My grandparents rode motorcycles! Can you see what’s coming?? Of course I had to buy myself a motorcycle to deliver those country papers.

So I saved the money from my paper route and late that summer I went into the local Honda dealership with my dad and bought my first bike – a 1963 Honda 55 Sport – red! 55 cubic centimeters with a manual clutch and four gears. What a dream come true.

Honda55

So, you say, what was a 13 year old going to do with a motorcycle that he wasn’t old enough to get a license for??? Ride it of course!! Every day that sweet bike took me on my rural route and I tackled the same ditches, fields, woods and riverbanks that I did on my bicycle … oh yes … and the roads … I had to learn to ride well enough on the street to be able to get my license. Of course it was a different time and the cops didn’t bother young kids riding motorcycles on country roads … so I learned to ride before my 14th birthday. And on that December birthday I rode my bike to the License Examiner’s office totally confident that I’d have a license in my hand and be totally legal when I rode home …. It didn’t cross my mind that I might not pass and that they wouldn’t let me ride home! And no-one told me that you had to pass an eye test !!! And more specifically a colour-blindness test!! So I learnt that I had a red-green deficiency … couldn’t see some of the numbers in those silly dot things they make you read. Luckily my helmet had a bunch of different coloured stickers on it, AND the examiner was in a good mood, because he asked me the colours on my helmet, told me that was good enough, and I rode away with my motorcycle license in hand on my 14th birthday!!

So back to the 50 year journey – obviously it’s about motorcycles. This summer of 2014 – 50 years after buying my first motorcycle – I’m joining a group of friends and taking a motorcycle to Bonneville Speedweek in an attempt to break a World Land Speed Record for a 250cc production class motorcycle. Team Swift has so far prepared the bike, shipped it to Victoria and on August 4th, it’ll be on its way to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to make the attempt.

Stay tuned ….

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