Friday, 7 March 2008

the fastest Indian

This is an severely modified 1920 Indian motor bike driven by New Zeelander, Burt Munro. That's him in the picture above, I don't know how to place images where I want them within the body of text yet...sorry.

My wife and I have just finished watching the film "The fastest Indian" which is the tale of this man's mission to go really fast on a motorbike.

It's funny how everyday things seem to almost co-incidentally crop up and add to our understanding. There is a whole story to follow but first I want to tell you about what been going on here.

I've just spent the last 48 hours ( not a lot of sleep ! ) getting to grips with the complexities of forum hosting. I had been staring, incomprehensibly, at 30 pages of instructions from a recommended program provider ( I will spare the blushes of the recommender ;-) ) for at least a month when Lorenzo ( somewhere in Italy ) directed my attention to a free program called php, that is quite bit more up to date and user friendly. Thanks so much Lorenzo.

Anyway, this program, which is open source and free, is a pretty decent system to deal with. I must admit at this point that I am, despite appearances, a bit of a Luddite, but with the very generous help of Brian Robinson ( of Nihonto Message Board fame ) I am very close to being able to launch our very own, dedicated, forum.

I really am hoping to develop, with your help, a totally new " virtual" interaction. Those of you who already know me may have an idea of where we may be heading but I will admit that I genuinely don't know where that may really be. We're all in this together... if you care to join us.

So,...back to the movie. "The fastest Indian" is the improbable, but true, story of a man who sets his heart to achieving a seemingly impossible goal.

Burt Munro, 67 years old, set a new world record for motorbikes under 1000cc, in 1967. H e drove his machine to a top speed of 190.07mph on a bike with a severely rebored engine of 950cc.

This record still stands.

He started modifying his engines and motorbikes in 1926 and achieved numerous local titles but he wanted the ultimate confirmation, a recognised record at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah in the USA.

The film presents a colourful account of his journey to Bonneville from New Zeeland, the land of the long white cloud. Naturally, he meets the usual compliment of eccentric characters along the way, all of whom are won over by his decency and integrity and help him towards his goal. He seems to have been quite the charmer, but never the less, the spirit of his quest is well presented.

You may also notice the subtle sub-plot in the film. This is the story of a man, who without any real financial support or brilliant technical advantages, has the determination to challenge the most advanced racers of the day on his shed built contraption. To quote Lance Armstrong; "it's not about the bike". Of course the bike had to be up to the job but you get the impression that a big part of what makes it go so fast is his sheer will power.

This is an important lesson for us all, I think, especially in these times when we are lead to believe that excellence can't be achieved without the finest, and most expensive equipment. As the saying goes; " if there's a will...there's a way".

Anthony Hopkins does a credible job in portraying Munro, at times I even forgot that I was watching the great Hopkins!, Sadly though, his pathetic and confused, attempt at an antipodean accent ( I dare not even be too specific here...) was a real distraction. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. You may even find yourself, like me, cheering the old codger on with a tear in your eye!

The point, I suppose, and what seems to touch us, is this sort of wholehearted commitment. The little man against all the odds. We speak so easily of work that has heart, or of the effort that people have made in producing their art but how many of us can really present this sort of integrity? Are you prepared to put your life on the line to express your most genuine truth or expression...

or must you be reasonable and make sure you keep paying the bills?

As always, I will be the thorn...there is obviously much more to be said on this challenging issue so I will wait to hear from you, with a bit of luck we might continue this on the new forum.

Namaste to you all.


Lorenzo said...

Hello Ford. Have you ever heard about Moto Guzzi? With Indian, Harley Davidson and few others is a dream mark of twin cylinders bike.

Actually that factory is the only famous part of the place where i live, somewhere in Italy... Mandello del lario.

Thanks for your kind words. I hope to be enough to help you again in the future, as payment for all the informations i have learnt from you about japanese metalwork.

Ford Hallam said...

Hi Lorenzo,

I know Moto Guzzi well...but I prefer the Laverda. I do like Italian styling :-) it's something your country does so well and of course the pedigree of the racing bikes is a big plus.

Anonymous said...

Im so glad to hear the forum is coming along. It's exciting to be in on the ground floor of this new artistic community. I truly look forward to participating and or helping in any way that I can.
As to the question posed in your post. I attempted to compose a rather long winded, witty thoughtful, semi anxt riddled, truly artistic reply ;-). believe me I have an oceans worth of opinions on the subject. However the comments page apperently found it to long winded. Perhaps when the forum is up and running you could pose the question again. I'm sure there are an abundance of people with thoughts on the subject.

Ford Hallam said...

Hi Dustin,

your reply sound exactly the sort of thing I think we all want to read.

I know from my own experience that it is not easy to put your most honest thoughts, fears and expressions out there for all to read but in my opinion this the only way we can ever even begin to understand ourselves and each other. After all, what have we got to lose...and I think we have so much to gain.

Sorry about the limit on the length of the comments, I'll have to see if I can reset that to " windy ramble" option ;-).

I really do appreciate the fact that there is a group of you chaps who are ready and waiting to help make the forum come alive. It's your interest that is encouraging me to get on with it, so thanks to all of you for keep up the pressure.

Namaste, Ford