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Lawrence Of Arabia rode a bike too !

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Michael, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. Just in case you haven't had the joy of reading this . I have put here the writings of T.E. lawrence otherwise known as Lawrence Of Arabia
    Here in his book "The Mint" he gives us a glimpse of a motorcyclist that we all recognise , i.e. ourselves , in one way or another
    please enjoy:

    The Road
    The extravagance in which my surplus emotion expressed itself lay on the road. So long as roads were tarred blue and straight; not hedged; and empty and dry, so long I was rich.

    Nightly I’d run up from the hangar, upon the last stroke of work, spurring my tired feet to be nimble. The very movement refreshed them, after the day-long restraint of service. In five minutes my bed would be down, ready for the night: in four more I was in breeches and puttees, pulling on my gauntlets as I walked over to my bike, which lived in a garage-hut, opposite. Its tyres never wanted air, its engine had a habit of starting at second kick: a good habit, for only by frantic plunges upon the starting pedal could my puny weight force the engine over the seven atmospheres of its compression.

    Boanerges’ first glad roar at being alive again nightly jarred the huts of Cadet College into life. ‘There he goes, the noisy bugger,’ someone would say enviously in every flight. It is part of an airman’s profession to be knowing with engines: and a thoroughbred engine is our undying satisfaction. The camp wore the virtue of my Brough like a flower in its cap. Tonight Tug and Dusty came to the step of our hut to see me off. ‘Running down to Smoke, perhaps?’ jeered Dusty; hitting at my regular game of London and back for tea on fine Wednesday afternoons.

    Boa is a top-gear machine, as sweet in that as most single-cylinders in middle. I chug lordlily past the guard-room and through the speed limit at no more than sixteen. Round the bend, past the farm, and the way straightens. Now for it. The engine’s final development is fifty-two horse-power. A miracle that all this docile strength waits behind one tiny lever for the pleasure of my hand.

    Another bend: and I have the honour of one of England’ straightest and fastest roads. The burble of my exhaust unwound like a long cord behind me. Soon my speed snapped it, and I heard only the cry of the wind which my battering head split and fended aside. The cry rose with my speed to a shriek: while the air’s coldness streamed like two jets of iced water into my dissolving eyes. I screwed them to slits, and focused my sight two hundred yards ahead of me on the empty mosaic of the tar’s gravelled undulations.

    Like arrows the tiny flies pricked my cheeks: and sometimes a heavier body, some house-fly or beetle, would crash into face or lips like a spent bullet. A glance at the speedometer: seventy-eight. Boanerges is warming up. I pull the throttle right open, on the top of the slope, and we swoop flying across the dip, and up-down up-down the switchback beyond: the weighty machine launching itself like a projectile with a whirr of wheels into the air at the take-off of each rise, to land lurchingly with such a snatch of the driving chain as jerks my spine like a rictus.

    Once we so fled across the evening light, with the yellow sun on my left, when a huge shadow roared just overhead. A Bristol Fighter, from Whitewash Villas, our neighbour aerodrome, was banking sharply round. I checked speed an instant to wave: and the slip-stream of my impetus snapped my arm and elbow astern, like a raised flail. The pilot pointed down the road towards Lincoln. I sat hard in the saddle, folded back my ears and went away after him, like a dog after a hare. Quickly we drew abreast, as the impulse of his dive to my level exhausted itself.

    The next mile of road was rough. I braced my feet into the rests, thrust with my arms, and clenched my knees on the tank till its rubber grips goggled under my thighs. Over the first pot-hole Boanerges screamed in surprise, its mud-guard bottoming with a yawp upon the tyre. Through the plunges of the next ten seconds I clung on, wedging my gloved hand in the throttle lever so that no bump should close it and spoil our speed. Then the bicycle wrenched sideways into three long ruts: it swayed dizzily, wagging its tail for thirty awful yards. Out came the clutch, the engine raced freely: Boa checked and straightened his head with a shake, as a Brough should.

    The bad ground was passed and on the new road our flight became birdlike. My head was blown out with air so that my ears had failed and we seemed to whirl soundlessly between the sun-gilt stubble fields. I dared, on a rise, to slow imperceptibly and glance sideways into the sky. There the Bif was, two hundred yards and more back. Play with the fellow? Why not? I slowed to ninety: signalled with my hand for him to overtake. Slowed ten more: sat up. Over he rattled. His passenger, a helmeted and goggled grin, hung out of the cock-pit to pass me the ‘Up yer’ Raf randy greeting.

    They were hoping I was a flash in the pan, giving them best. Open went my throttle again. Boa crept level, fifty feet below: held them: sailed ahead into the clean and lonely country. An approaching car pulled nearly into its ditch at the sight of our race. The Bif was zooming among the trees and telegraph poles, with my scurrying spot only eighty yards ahead. I gained though, gained steadily: was perhaps five miles an hour the faster. Down went my left hand to give the engine two extra dollops of oil, for fear that something was running hot: but an overhead Jap twin, super-tuned like this one, would carry on to the moon and back, unfaltering.

    We drew near the settlement. A long mile before the first houses I closed down and coasted to the cross-roads by the hospital. Bif caught up, banked, climbed and turned for home, waving to me as long as he was in sight. Fourteen miles from camp, we are, here: and fifteen minutes since I left Tug and Dusty at the hut door.

    I let in the clutch again, and eased Boanerges down the hill along the tram-lines through the dirty streets and up-hill to the aloof cathedral, where it stood in frigid perfection above the cowering close. No message of mercy in Lincoln. Our God is a jealous God: and man’s very best offering will fall disdainfully short of worthiness, in the sight of Saint Hugh and his angels.

    Remigius, earthy old Remigius, looks with more charity on and Boanerges. I stabled the steel magnificence of strength and speed at his west door and went in: to find the organist practising something slow and rhythmical, like a multiplication table in notes on the organ. The fretted, unsatisfying and unsatisfied lace-work of choir screen and spandrels drank in the main sound. Its surplus spilled thoughtfully into my ears.

    By then my belly had forgotten its lunch, my eyes smarted and streamed. Out again, to sluice my head under the White Hart’s yard-pump. A cup of real chocolate and a muffin at the teashop: and Boa and I took the Newark road for the last hour of daylight. He ambles at forty-five and when roaring his utmost, surpasses the hundred. A skittish motor-bike with a touch of blood in it is better than all the riding animals on earth, because of its logical extension of our faculties, and the hint, the provocation, to excess conferred by its honeyed untiring smoothness. Because Boa loves me, he gives me five more miles of speed than a stranger would get from him.

    At Nottingham I added sausages from my wholesaler to the bacon which I’d bought at Lincoln: bacon so nicely sliced that each rasher meant a penny. The solid pannier-bags behind the saddle took all this and at my next stop a (farm) took also a felt-hammocked box of fifteen eggs. Home by Sleaford, our squalid, purse-proud, local village. Its butcher had six penn’orth of dripping ready for me. For months have I been making my evening round a marketing, twice a week, riding a hundred miles for the joy of it and picking up the best food cheapest, over half the country side.
  2. From what I have read, some time ago, it is also how he died.
  3. Correct, Dave. He is there somewhere, on the Road Toll.

    Crashed his Brough Superior, and succumbed to his wounds.
  4. I've still got Titus' copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom... But I believe I may be distantly related to the man - my grandmother is Lilian Lawrence, and her family's from the same Chepstoe, Wales as he was. He'd have some stories, that bloke - but I've been twice as fast on a motorbike as he has :p
  5. T.E. lawrence was also a very significant figure in the Middle East. If he had more political influence over that region, then maybe some of the problems that exists there now would not be as bad. His efforts ended the Ottoman Empire rule over the Middle East. His war time efforts were amazing.

    At the end of WWI, he became disgruntled with what was happening in the Middle East. Many of his promises that he made to those in the middle east, were been broken by The British Empire. Lawrence tried to live a simple life. He even tried to rejoin the army under a different name. He only knew the hard discipline life of the military.

    Bike riding was his only outlet and joy at that time. He always took risks as evident during WWI. Thus his risk taking and joy of riding fast were fulfilled by his bike. Those bikes reached very high speeds, especially for those times. It was only a matter of time before he would have an accident.

    T.E Lawrence was given a State funeral with full honours. He would of hated that because he wanted to be unknown. He wanted a simple disciplined life and the joys of motorcycle riding.

    I wondered what would have happened if he did not died and lived to see WWII. Maybe Hilter would have been defeated sooner??? England really needed his brillance. (As illustrated by teh above article).
  6. Yeah, but it would take twice the balls to do 100mph on the Brough than 200 on a modern bike.
    No helmet, Neanderthal brakes, f... all suspension travel, friction dampers, tyres that would look sad on a modern pushy and a narrow badly surfaced road! :shock:
  7. There was a documtary made a year or two ago: The Motorcyle Passion of Lawrence of Arabia. http://www.speedwobblefilms.com/index.html I emailed them about buying a copy, they took ages to reply with a "We'll get back to you..."
  8. But Loz, your surname isn't Lawrence
  9. Ahh, what a brilliant grasp of the english language. Every scentence exudes the passion he feels about his hobby.

    I loved the movie when I was little. Used to get a lump in my throat everytime i saw the end, but then again, it's somewhat poetic that his life story was concluded in that manner.

    I wonder. Do people like that even exist anymore, or do individual efforts/actions get lost in the throng of contemporay life.

    It may be, that he was a man of the times and public knowledge of his existance came about because of the entrainment to war propaganda, but regardless, he was an awesome individual.
  10. He certainly didn't keep his motorcycle in the closet.