I bought my first moped at the advanced age of forty. I had never ridden any kind of motor cycle before, but because I had taken my driving test as long ago as 1966 I was able to get straight on and ride it without any L plates, another test or further instruction. I was strongly advised to take some lessons, but of course I didn’t. I never came to any harm in spite of my inexperience. I bought my moped from R. O. Clark in Ber Street (Norwich). This firm had some connection with V. J. Ausin who had owned the garage in Poringland when I was a lad. V. J. Austin later moved to St Catherine’s Plain in Norwich, where my father had an account and he bought all his petrol there. In the summer of 1989 the moped was delivered to my home in Costessey on the back of a truck,.
My new mode of transport was a Honda City Express in white, similar the one which illustrates this article. Although it had a step-though frame it didn’t resemble a motor scooter such as the Lambretta, because it had large (almost motor bike sized) wheels with spokes. I felt very smart on my new moped, though I am sure other people just laughed as I rode off, if they noticed me at all. I made a box to go behind me which would take my helmet when left my bike. The nice bit about the step-through frame was the fact that I could drive along with a bag of shopping between my legs. Having automatic gears all the controls were on the handlebars, and my feet were only used to knock down the stand when I came to a halt.
I never went more than a few miles on my moped. Going from Costessey to Bowthorpe or up to Norwich was about the limit of my ambition on two wheels. For venturing any further I took the car. After I had ridden the City Express for a couple of years I sold the Honda and used instead my mother-in–law’s Vespa. This was a much older machine and therefore not so reliable. I used it to ride a mile or so to work in the morning, but I was glad to abandon two wheels when I bought myself another car in 1997. The eight years I had spent on my mopeds were enough.
Instead of freezing in the early morning I cold now sit in a warm Nissan Micra with the radio on. I was nearly 50 and it was time to enjoy a little comfort in my life. My son briefly learnt to ride a moped, and bought himself a secondhand Puch, but he did not use it very much. Recently my daughter spent 6 weeks in Bali where the only way to travel round was on a motor scooter. She had never ridden one before, and had no documents to prove her ability to do so, but they do not worry about such things in Indonesia. On returning to this country she did a crash course in motor cycling and intended to buy herself a machine, bur instead has a keen pedal cyclist. She recently rode 100 miles in one day.
Before I met my wife she and her mother used to ride all round the countryside on their mopeds. Nothing pleased my wife more than buying vegetables from roadside stalls.