The Great Sidecar Experiment (Part Two)

Posted on August 3, 2011

The Great Sidecar Experiment

Part (2) Invocations to Divinities

based on true events…

One moment we were all cheering loudly. The next moment, there was a stunned pause amongst us, followed by peculiar, strangled sound effects. Hands shot up involuntarily and covered mouths. Arms were raised to the heavens, as if in devout supplication. Gasping, panting expressions were voiced. Somebody covered his face, and turned away. Two people held their heads firmly, as if these were about to fall unceremoniously off their shoulders.
F@#K!! Oh, F@#K!!!
Man! Oh, man! Oh, man…??!
SH…TTT!

It was indeed wrenching to watch. The machine reared up at the wall, bounced sickeningly, and then tipped shriekingly onto its side. It slithered along violently, with terminal mechanical noises emanating from the destruction. The occupants of the sidecar were flung out like so many rag dolls, and the two riders also spun ungracefully through the air. Arms and legs, heads and feet, seemed to be cavorting crazily in a cloud of dust, clods of earth, and unidentified pieces of motorcycle. As one, we all started running frantically down the road.

Arriving on the scene, carnage as a word is utterly inadequate to describe the mess. The six riders were all lying prone at unusual angles, groaning horribly, and making loud dying noises. Somebody asked “Deklan, Jayzus, are you all right?” To which the former test pilot momentarily ceased his death rattle, and replied, between gasps, that the questioner should go and F#$K!! himself. We all stood around, helplessly, and tried to render assistance. Somebody anxiously picked up the headlamp off the road, and another helpfully retrieved the tattered seat, side panels and front fender from where they had landed. Meanwhile our heroic matadors were slowly ceasing to die, and beginning to launch recriminations. It was Deklan who was getting the brunt of it, for mismanaging the critical ceremony known as “letting out the clutch “. An accusation which he angrily denied, between mighty groans, and lots of divine invocations to various entities. One by one the terminally dying were now getting up, and standing in the road, swaying dangerously, limping, and holding onto various body regions. Knees, arms, elbows and heads being counted, it appeared all were surprisingly still properly attached, To be sure, there were cuts, gashes, scrapes, dislocations, crunched ribs, black eyes, bloody noses, sore backs, even sorer heads, and a long list of tattered garments and shredded footwear. Amazingly however, given the force of the impact, not one broken limb was diagnosed, although the painful sprains made the slowly returning party resemble an exodus from World War One trench warfare. Everybody was limping, and being supported by one or two rescuers, as they slowly made their way back up the hill to Deklan and Tim’s house. We remaining members of the salvage team watched them go, listening to the slowly dwindling, wailing sounds of receding human misery. Mixed, with occasional decibel increases, with accusations of stupidity, and imbecile incompetence. The great Irish divinity “Jayzus” was frequently called upon to witness the truth of somebody’s opinion, but how this Great Figure viewed the strange procession below Him, we Mortals are never to understand.
The Beast had suffered mightily as well, with the silencer ripped clean off, seat, side panels, headlamp, front fender and the footrests no longer attached. The gas tank had a football sized dent in it, and the handle bars were hanging at a grotesque angle. The front forks were twisted to hell, and the primary drive cover looked like it had been raped with a cheese grater, and there were several cracked cylinder fins. We couldn’t even find the rear brake lever. There was broken glass lying on the road, and we also picked up a leather gauntlet, a motorcycle boot, a pair of spectacles, and a wicked looking, half used packet of English condoms. The latter being banned in Holy Catholic Ireland at that time, owing to the worrisome risk of Eternal Damnation, caused us to hotly debate ownership. If I recall, the owner never did fess up, so the evidence quietly disappeared into somebody else’s pocket. I’m sure with his soul’s resurrection devoutly on the mind of the new owner. Or another part’s erection, I’m not sure which.

We then struggled mightily to drag the stricken Beast back up the hill to the workshop. This was no mean feat, as we were forced to half carry the combo. The sidecar wheel had pretty well come off, and the rear wheel was locked up. Without the rear brake lever, we were unable to let the brake off. The sidecar itself, although recognizably intact, had suffered also, and it was evident that some serious regenerative carpentry would be required. We struggled and pushed, dragged and hauled, and equally invoked the said Irish Divinity many times. But in the end, the heroic BSA M21 thumper was returned to her stall. Whereupon we all retired to the local pub, for a thorough going engineering analysis. We also discussed and examined fluid theory, involving the excellent lubricative qualities of Irish Guinness.

Some weeks went by, during which The Beast was slowly restored. There were quite some volunteers for this feat, as word had spread of this noble quest. I myself had a small hand with the sidecar, being interested as I was in the craft of carpentry. I also used nails, with some misgivings, repeating to anybody who would listen, that screws might be better.
We toiled and we labored, and we bashed out the gas tank as best we could. A slight leak was repaired with some kind of pink putty. But this was quickly and esthetically touched up with a delicate application of more pea green paint. The missing glass from the headlamp was temporarily replaced with transparent plastic, and the bent front forks were laboriously clamped, heated, and belted straight with Jo O’Flaherty’s sledge hammer. A great problem was furnished by the destroyed silencer, which was burst quite beyond repair. The inside was rusted out, and it was clear that a replacement would have to be found. Or, failing that, manufactured. To the rescue rode a second year engineering student, who knew the basics of tack welding. He had not graduated in his classes yet to full scale, proper structural welding, but that did not stop him for creating a masterpiece. With the aid of some purloined sheet metal from the college workshops, he and others beat, cut, shaped and welded a very passable bazooka shaped exhaust pipe. It was made to fit with some degree of persuasion, and a stack of adjustable clamps, but once it was on and fitted, a wonderful bellow was heard when The Beast was fired up. We were all so hugely impressed, that we instantly retired to the pub, to further our understanding of Fluid Mechanics. The day of the second test flight was now rapidly approaching, and word was going out far and wide…

On the appointed Saturday, it was raining cats and dogs, as it most surely can in Holy Catholic Ireland. Nonetheless, the road outside Tim and Deklan’s house was now overflowing with more than fifty motorcycles, and his workshop was jam packed with pilgrims from all over County Wicklow. Well wishers and admirers, the curious and the inebriated, all flocked to admire the home built rocket exhaust pipe, and its architects stood proudly by to explain the finer points of engineering detail. The sidecar was meticulously examined, and serious discussion was extended on the subject of the Square Root of the Pythagoras Algorhythm, and all matters of side car alignment. Confidence was brimming, and knowledgeable heads were nodding wisely in the modest admission of their expertise and brilliance. It was going to be just fine this time.
No problem…

Some discussion was raised on the subject of the intense rainfall, which had now accelerated to the level of a tropical monsoon. The Beast and sidecar had already been pushed outside, and anxious eyes searched for a break in the clouds. A small river of water was flowing down the hill, and draining into the large ditch on the left side of the road, opposite the infamous wall. Normally dry as a bone, this drainage device had now swollen to a respectable flow, with muddy brown water rushing off the fine green fields of Ireland.
Several of the pilgrims had brought liquid offerings, and these were now ceremoniously offered in respect.

The hours clicked by, and still the lashing rain refused to ease off. The crowd was getting restless now, and calling for the Great Sidecar Experiment , version Two. At length the rain eased off at least a little, and, since the liquid offerings were now rapidly heading towards empty, it was decided that the great moment had arrived. Deklan, clad in bright yellow oilskins, climbed once again into the pilot’s seat, and Tim climbed on behind. It was noted, oddly, that there was not quite the same eager jostling taking place for a seat in the sidecar cum coffin. In fact, only two intrepid souls were finally ensconced, which was one less than the first time around. I was seriously thinking about it myself, honestly, but I was finishing the last dregs from a bottle of Harp Lager. By the time my Adams’s Apple had completed its mission, it was too late, and a hord of volunteers was already engaged in pushing The Beast and Sidecar down the hill. This part of the proceedings had a certain carnival atmosphere about it, with loud cheers, laughter, good humored banter, and shouted promises of visitors to the Emergency Room.

Down the hill they want, bravely and unflinchingly, and Deklan did a truly superb job this time round with the ceremony of “letting out the clutch “. He did it more gently, and started it earlier, and before the machine had reached twenty miles per hour, it was already breathing fire and brimstone. The bellowing was even louder this time, owing to the small fact that the designers of the exhaust pipe had dispensed with the pesky detail of internal baffles. It was just a straight through pipe now, and it sure sounded luvvely to us motorcycle addicts.
Faster and faster they went, straight as a die, until they had reached about forty five miles per hour. The cheers were now deafening. Deklan and his team had now almost reached the point where previous disaster had occurred, and they had collided so unfortunately with the old stone wall. They had just about gotten to maybe fifty miles per hour, when all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, the entire combo swung hard left. We all saw it. Then they swung right again. Corrected, and swung left. The cheers stopped instantly. The oscillations became wilder and wilder, with seemingly less time in between each dangerous excursion.

Left-right-left-right-LEFT-RIGHT…

It couldn’t last, and it didn’t. On the final deviation left, with Deklan fighting manfully for control, the side car wheel caught on the kerb. Instantly the swing left became unstoppable. There came an almighty fountain of dirty brown water, a loud splashing sound, then an all encompassing shower of spray. For a brief moment in time, through this spray you could see The Beast and its hapless occupants, still upright, careering through the stream. Doubtless Deklan was still fighting for control, but their fate was sealed.

The front wheel dug in, or hit a sunken boulder, and the rear of the Beast combo rose vertically straight up into the air…

(to be continued) PART THREE – CLICK HERE

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on June 6, 2015, 4:08 am


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