Saturday, 5 December 2020

Norfolk Wisdom on BBC's Speed Dreams

I just finished watching BBC 2's Speed Dreams: The Fastest Place On Earth, a documentary about a group of British motorcyclists who travel to Bonneville to see how fast their folk-engineered motorcycles can go.  It's a great watch and one of the best motorcycle focused things I've seen about Bonneville, and there have been many.

One of my favourite bits about this one is that it isn't one of those (insert celebrity name here) explorations of extreme motorbiking.  Those can get thin pretty quickly when they lean mainly on the twist of watching a footballer or actor doing something that hundreds of others have done with less while the poor celebrity laments their fame and finds ways to make the trip as expensive as they possibly can.  It might be time to shelve that formula.  Motorcycling is inherently egalitarian.  Millionaire problems while doing it just aren't that interesting. Meanwhile, Speed Dreams covers the gamut from build-it-in-your-shed eccentrics to bank funded high end amateur riders, but I find the ones who do it with less far more interesting.  Money makes people tedious and shallow.  It's not their fault, they can't help it, it's just what money does  They end up with an audience because people like to watch wealth.  The characters underneath it are nearly always atrophied by it.

Speaking of interesting, my favourite bit of Speed Dreams is when the Scottish lead engineer of the high end team comes out and waxes poetic about the shear size of the place...

Then the old fella from Norfolk who picks up the litter on the beach after he had a nervous breakdown and built an old Indian bike in his shed with recycled parts walks out and does us all Norfolk proud:

'ha''s Norfook for yow.  It made me miss home.

You can catch this one on Motortrend TV with a free trail, or on BBC if you're somewhere they'll let you stream it.  Amazon also looks like they add it in occasionally.  Back in the day Top Gear (with the old guys) liked it too.

Other Bonneville Motorcycle Media:

Guy Martin and the world's fastest motorbike.  I usually like Guy's stuff, but this isn't one of my favourites, probably because it comes off as a Triumph ad, he never gets his hands dirty.  Even the Triumph bit is outsourced to another engineering group making it look even more like a marketing exercise.  They don't manage to break any records either.  You can stream this one on Channel 4 UK, though there are other Guy motorbike themed things I prefer (his run at Pike's Peak on a custom hand made machine is fantastic).

Henry Cole's Worlds' Greatest Motorcycle Rides is a good series to get you through long Canadian winters and his run at Bonneville is a genuine tear jerker.  That he's trying to do it on a Brough Superior is English eccentricity at its best.  First time he met Sam Lovegrove too, so there is a good bit of engineering/technical to it as well.

Odin, Thor's dad (Anthony Hopkins), plays Burt Munro in The World's Fastest Indian, a well put together film telling the story of one of Bonneville's heroes from down under.

Out of Nothing is another shed-built Bonneville attempt from an American North West perspective.  It sometimes wanders dangerously near to hipster philosophical - Americans tend to take themselves very seriously when doing manly things.  I prefer the UK self deprecating humour rather than the chest thumping, but it's still a good film.