Rye News has carried several stories about motorcycles lately, and about the people who ride them. You may notice my brightly painted Harley-Davidson being ridden around now and again. It belongs to Rye, as I do.
My bike commemorates the Battle of Hastings in 1066. There is a frieze of images of galloping horsemen on the front and rear mudguards that go up one side of the bike and down the other. These are copied from the Bayeux Tapestry, made in the 11th century, which depicts the events of the conquest of England by the Norman French in 1066.
The image on the front mudguard shows the coronation of Harold at Westminster Abbey. On the king’s right the sword of state is held out to him. On the other side, Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury, robed, holds his maniple and uplifts his hands. The Latin inscription reads: Here sits Harold, King of the English. Archbishop Stigand.
The image on the rear fender shows the war horse landed by Duke William at Pevensey. It is being led forward ready for battle. The Latin inscription reads: Advance to Hastings
The tapestry images along the sides of the bike show the Norman cavalry advancing to battle. The Latin inscription on the right hand side reads: Here Duke William exhorts his troops to prepare themselves manfully and wisely for the battle against the army of the English. The Latin inscription on the left side reads: There the French do battle, and those who were with Harold fell.
The mural on the right side of the tank shows the death of King Harold who, after a fierce fight that lasted all day with neither side winning, was killed by a stray arrow that hit him in the eye. This is what the Bayeaux Tapestry, a contemporary account, tells us. The mural on the left hand side is of a Norman archer. An arrow is incorporated into the gear change mechanism of the 1,500cc engine.
I designed everything myself and had it painted by a master artist. The seat and leather work is all hand tooled showing images from the tapestry, a conical helmet and battle axes. The bike is now 20 years old but still immaculate. It is maintained and serviced by V-Twin Custom Cycles at Rye Harbour. It has won many awards and been on the television. Once I was riding along Brighton sea front and was asked if it could be borrowed for a men’s fashion shoot and I agreed.
There really is no typical biker. I’ve enjoyed touring Europe on my Harley for over 20 years. Like everyone everywhere, variety of character and personality is endless and the huge variety of motorcycles themselves are individual and differ widely.
I still feel proud of my bike. It brings me joy.
Image Credits: Mags Ivatt .