Blasts From my Past – Yamaha RD250LC – Autumnal Adventures

Test passed, now for something quicker!

I passed my bike test back in the days when merely returning from your ride with a pulse was sufficient to get you through. Immediately I graduated from my cute, but somewhat beleaguered Honda CB100N to a much cooler (and quicker!!) Yamaha RD250LC. Picking one manic ride from the many I enjoyed on this fabulous bike is tough, but here goes…


Blasting back from the land of the Celts!

A superb week blasting around Cornwall in company with a mate on a Suzuki GS250T almost made the cut. However in the end I have decided to go for an epic ride back from Welsh border country to my home in the leafy suburbs of Birmingham. It was during the bone dry autumn of 1984. I had been to a club rally (whatever happened to The Centaurs MCC?) and I decided to ride back to Brum in company with a couple of mates: Neil on his 3 1/2 Moto Morini and Loz, who piloted the then ‘King of the Hill’ Kawasaki GPz1100A Unitrak.  Thinking about it now, thirty five years on, we must have looked an odd bunch to a knowing eye. A water cooled 2 stroke parallel twin, an air-cooled V twin and an across the frame DOHC four. At least all three were varying shades of red!

We headed back to the midlands with Loz leading, me in the ‘tail-gunner’ slot on my LC. Neil formed the salami of this particular sandwich.  For Neil and I the pace was hot and we were working furiously to keep tabs on the powerful GPz. I was having great fun really stretching the LC. We were on an enticing mix of A&B roads. My memory is a little hazy, but I think much of the route was on the A5. Incidentally A5 is the answer to the that great old joke: “How do you get two Whales in a Mini. On the A5 of course! The Roman’s knew how to build a road in a straight line, so it is not exactly the Stelvio, but I had not long passed my test and the pace was very hot.

Fading memories

Much of the detail is lost in the swirling mists of time. What I do remember is that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you riding hard in company with good friends at pace. Three bikes as one as we sliced across the countryside, flashing past any traffic we encountered. I swept around the bends and attacked islands blipping the throttle as I changed down. The spindly front forks squirming as I leant on the single disc brake. All the time I was praying that I could shed enough speed to make the island! Then sling shooting out the other side, working the Avon Roadrunner R2  as hard I dared and trying to keep my peaky little stroker ‘on the pipe’: Fanbloodytastic!

Early morning call

Up front Loz on the GPz was, I suspect, just stroking it along on a wave of meaty four stroke torque and wondering what was for tea. Meanwhile Neil and I were on the ragged edge doing our level best to keep him honest and gain a few yards on the bends and islands! These days I dutifully (& correctly) rigidly maintain speed limits through villages. Then as a 19 year old yob I wasn’t so considerate. One memory that remains fantastically clear from this day is the three of us blasting through a sleepy village at 7am. We were like an express train line astern at God knows what speed. It was autumn and piles of golden leaves were piled up everywhere on the roadside. As we hammered through the village we sent thousands of them spinning in a vortices in  our wake. I clocked them still swirling in my mirrors as we sped on towards home. The locals, just rising from their slumbers must of wondered what the hell had hit them. All very silly, but somehow glorious all the same.

There’s always somebody out to spoil your fun

However only a few miles up the road our fun was brought to an abrupt halt. We were just barrelling past a line of particularly slow moving traffic when the reason for their tardiness became all too obvious: There was a ‘Jam-sandwich’ Police car at the head of the line! Traffic cars in 1984 were white with a big red stripe around the middle, hence the nick name ‘jam-Sandwich’. This remains a phrase I use to this day, even though plod mobiles have long ceased to be painted in such a style. There was a gap at the front of the line, behind the Police Morris Ital (remember those!). All three of us desperately piled on the anchors and tucked into the gap as best we could. The crew of the car were no doubt smiling at the sight of three ‘fly-boys’ on their bright red bikes bunched into the gap! No harm done, all good fun and the next few miles were covered at a somewhat more sedate pace!


Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly