TRF:Hi Steve. I hear you're trying to retire from London life but they won't let you?
Steve:Well sort of. I’ve been working there since 1974 and I’m trying to find out my pension entitlement. It’s horribly complicated as I could just retire but might loose a significant chunk. There are also options like flexible retirement where you can work part time; but you have to be 60 and I’m 58! Bureaucracies make it so difficult. I’ve been in the TRF since 1979. The appeal then as it was now is the ability to explore green lanes/roads on a motorcycle. I’ve always liked bikes since a child and whilst initially motorbikes didn’t appeal, when I had a go on a tatty moped in some quarry I thought wow, twist and go! Now I’m at a stage where my wife has been retired for 5 years, the mortgage is paid and my daughters have left home with jobs and boyfriends. What to do? Ride and restore my bikes?
TRF:You are the TRF's Heritage Director. What does that actually mean?
Steve:Yes, I wondered as well. I think I had an open brief but basically I think its to preserve, in the context of Green Roads, the Green Roads themselves for motorcycle use, the personal experiences and knowledge of members and other motorcyclists and then finally the bikes themselves. Specifically the “trials” and trail bikes of the past.
Looking back to understand the future
TRF:Am I right in thinking that you were appointed the role on account of the fact that you are a living link to the origins of the TRF?
Steve:Yes, I’m something like the 12th longest currently serving member in the TRF. Although that depends on how you look at the data as up until the 1980’s our membership records were on paper. Then computers took over but initially the compatibility standards made it a lot more fragmented. Remember 8 inch and five and a quarter inch floppy discs? When the Directors have a discussion about an issue I try to finish my response with a recollection of the past as we do sometimes tend to go over the same issues. I won’t mention them by name but I’m keen to tap into past knowledge as either a written or audio record.
Kent's Green Roads
TRF:It will be fascinating to get an insight into how the TRF started and has evolved over the years. I imagine there will be a lot of stories. A big part of heritage is looking back to plan for the future. Where do you think trail riding is going? What will the TRF look like in 50 years time?
Steve:A basic motorcycle will not change. However the form of propulsion will. Imagine if motorcycles had always been electric and the battery technology had always been where it will be in 5 years time. That is a 200 mile range and it has a 15 minute recharge cycle; just enough time for a coffee and Danish pastry. Then someone comes along with a petrol engine and says look “I’ve invented this form of propulsion, it costs 10 times as much to go the distance, the chemical it uses is flammable and explosive, the engine itself produces a lot of noise and pollution. You have more maintenance because of the dozens of moving parts. It produces about the same power but only when you use high RPM. The torque is about half that of an electric motor. You also have to have a gearbox because the engine is not flexible enough to go from zero to past the legal limit otherwise. Finally you have to have a clutch because it has to be running even when the motorcycle is stationary! You’d laugh at them!
TRF:Thanks Steve, we look forward to seeing the project unfold.