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The Heart of Skidding

by Alan Hext

On showing a now retired ex working colleague of mine the write up on cyclemotor enthusiasts in the January 1988 issue of "British Bike Mechanics", he was fascinated by my interest in them and went on to tell me of a cyclemotor he had once owned during the Suez Canal crisis.

"It was fitted inside the frame" he told me, "and was very fast."

I smiled.

"It was called a cacky? cocky?..."

"A Cucciolo?" I enquired.

"Yeah, could be.  Anyway, it was a 4-stroke and went at 40mph.  I bought it because of the petrol shortage with the Suez trouble, to get me to and from work.  I used it without anything going wrong for a couple of months.  The back mudguard was loose though and was causing vibrations while riding.  Then one day while returning home from work on the A13, the back wheel locked up solid; I was flat out at the time doing about 40 mph or more" he informed me.

"I can remember trying to control the skid for a long time, but in the end I lost the bike and was thrown across the road towards the oncoming traffic.  I was wearing goggles and gauntlet gloves but no crash helmet in those days.  I landed and skidded towards a tipper lorry and was so close to it that the side of its tyre kicked my foot away."

"People from a garage came out and helped me up" he told me, "I was almost unhurt but that couldn't be said for the bike.  The rear mudguard stay had snapped through fatigue and gone into the spokes, thus locking the wheel and causing the rim to be pulled up towards the hub making the rear wheel look like a heart.  I left the bike in the garage and, as I recall, collected it the next day in my car."

"The wife almost collapsed with shock when she saw it" he exclaimed.

"Anyway, I took it through the house to the rear garden and hooked the thing's handlebars over the fence, and just left it there.  It was still there when I moved house."

"What!" I yelled, "When was that?"  This sudden shock of info almost blowing my motorised mind.

"Oh, in about 1958" he said.

I breathed a "Suez" of relief.

First published - April 1988

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