Thursday, 23 September 2010

"Quickly! An island epic"

This is an NSU Quickly "N" Model moped, manufactured by NSU Motorenwerke AG in Germany between 1953 and 1962 - one of the most successful mopeds of its day.
My brother David owned a Quickly as a teenager, and the two of us used to compete in timed trials through the woods at the family home near Seaforde, when I was twelve or thirteen.

What I'm saying, I suppose, is that I have considerable experience in off-road NSU Quickly racing; and that brings me to today's event at the Aspects Festival of Irish Literature, where I was surprised and pleased to find that my discussion with Geoff Hill was a sell-out.

Now, as I said after he introduced me, this may be because people were there to hear Geoff (former travel editor of the News Letter, now full-time author and adventurer) as much as That guy who lives on an island - nevertheless, they turned up, and we did an hour and a half of chat, interspersed with some leg-pulling and a good deal of laughter (both by us and the audience); and the organisers seemed pleased.

I should explain that Geoff has completed a number of motorcycle challenges, including Delhi to Belfast on a Royal Enfield, Route 66 on a Harley, Chile to Alaska on a Triumph, and most recently Adelaide to Adelaide on a Triumph Tiger 1050, all of which adventures have (or will) spawn books, the penultimate trip (Chile to Alaska) becoming, typically, The Road To Gobblers Knob.

Anyway. Some time ago I suggested that with these little warm-ups in the bag, Geoff might like to try something a little more challenging. In fact, I had a scheme in mind, and even a title for the book (and of course the documentary):

Round Islandmore by moped

Obviously, the expedition would require logistical support on an enormous scale - visas for crossing field borders; food for at least a morning, until Lynn (and Geoff's wife Cate, if she was up for it) could rendezvous with the two of us for the first picnic; emergency supplies to be air-dropped to the shores of Sliddery Bay, on the far side of Islandmore, which many have tried to cross when the tide was out, but without success, some never to be seen again; and of course a level of fitness neither of us have had to achieve since school days, to ensure that we completed the entire circuit of a mile, in anything up to five or six hours.

So, I used the occasion of the Aspects discussion to float the idea, and the audience was keen - so much so that Geoff put aside his worries, smiled bravely and nodded as if to say, 'Goddammit, let's do it!'

Watch this space..
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