ONE OF my mates from years ago was named Blossie. He’s not around any more, but back then, he was a good bloke—just one of the lads. Short for ‘Blossom’, it was a strange name for a biker for sure, but it came about from his habit of drinking to the point of deterioration, then performing a sneaky disappearing act that would see him missing in action for a short time; miraculously, he would reappear all refreshed and ready to rock and roll once more. Turns out he was sneaking off for a short nap somewhere quiet, then his re-entry to the land of the living was said to resemble the ‘blossoming’ of a new spring flower.
Yeah, weird nickname alright, but we didn’t ever spend too much time agonising over tags, we just doled out the new name as we saw fit.
Blossie was your typical biker of the early 1970s. He rode a 650 cc Triumph Bonneville—and the most beautiful Bonnie of all—a 1969 USA model whose sexy, slim petrol tank was finished in stunning black with red flashes. Also, like a lot of ’70s bikers, Blossie got clobbered by a badly-driven car which stuffed his leg and smashed the bike.
The Bonnie got fixed and put back on the road, and the leg eventually came good too, but Blossie was definitely doing less and less riding. Sure, he’d still attend the pub every day, but he either walked or hooked a ride on the pillion seat of one of the other lads’ machines. It was a very dark day when he finally sold the Bonneville, and didn’t we keep hearing about how he’d “made a terrible mistake,” and “should never have let it go—I’d like to get another bike…”
“Yeah, yeah,” we’d agree. “Sure, sure…”
Just down the road from our local pub was our local bike shop, Spooner Motorcycles. Now, Spooner’s was a Yamaha dealership so it didn’t really interest us, although they also sold a lot of second-hand bikes which meant the odd interesting machine passed through their portals. But they were also agents for a few of the smaller brands like Ducati and even Triumph.
Both the Ducati and Triumph brands were going through tumultuous times in the mid 1970s, with factory finances and individual models causing both grief and joy in varying degrees, but it was Triumph that was the genuine basket case of a motorcycle company. Atrocious management decisions which ultimately led to falling sales, shoddy quality control and all manner of industrial woes culminating in a giant strike and factory sit-ins. The grim situation virtually spelled the death of the famous Triumph Bonneville which really was one of the world’s favourite motorcycles for a few decades.
The Triumph company was doing what it could to keep the trickle of bikes flowing to the eager but ever-diminishing hordes of diehard Triumph customers and one of the models they produced was the T160 Trident, a nice-looking three-cylinder machine of 750 cc and blessed with an electric start. And it just so happened that Spooner Motorcycles had a solitary Triumph T160 on the showroom floor. It appeared there in early 1976 and immediately caught Blossie’s eye.
“I think I’d like to buy that T160,” Blossom declared after about the ninth or tenth beer.
Nobody believed it would happen. “Yeah, yeah,” we’d agree. “Sure, sure…”
Blossie wasn’t short of a quid; he always had a heap of dough and some even bigger money heading his way from the compensation payout for his prang. But he kept maintaining the dream and we kept agreeing with him, knowing the Trident would be sold before he made his move.
And you know what? The Trident didn’t sell. It sat there, and sat there and sat there for years. It was not the normal situation with last year’s bikes being superseded and heavily discounted to make way for the new models; Triumph weren’t making any new models so it didn’t really matter. In fact, the Triumph factory staggered on until about 1983 when the last real Triumph rolled out of the old factory and the doors were closed for the final time.
But Blossie kept insisting that he’d buy the Trident on Spooner’s floor, and we kept nodding and agreeing anytime he said it.
Fast forward to 1979 and we’d all rocked back to my place on Sunday night after a very boozy time at the Steyne Hotel on Manly Beach. Blossie was on the back of my bike and I gotta tell ya—he wasn’t the world’s best pillion passenger. Old Bloss was what the politically correct would describe as ‘abdominally gifted’ or ‘non-anorexic’. Tie that in with his propensity to nod off to sleep anywhere, anytime, and you have the world’s worst pillion.
We were kickin’ on in a most serious manner for a Sunday night. I mean, we all had to work the next day so God knows how we did it. Maybe we were all 10 feet tall and bullet-proof back then.
Blossie began his 10-or-more beers spiel about the Trident, and how he would buy it soon. Now, to understand the situation fully, the fact there was a T160 Triumph Trident sitting brand new on a showroom floor in 1979 was to me, unusual. It was unusual enough for me to rock into Spooner’s with my camera and take a few photos of what I thought could be the last new Trident still for sale on a dealer’s floor anywhere in the world. Triumph motorcycles weren’t completely dead and buried by then; the company still wheezed and creaked on for a few more years making small numbers of the Bonneville twins, but the Trident Triples were long gone and the renaissance of the marque didn’t happen until about 1992 (love the new Bonneville, too!)
And still, Blossie banged on about buying.
“Stuff it,” I said and decided there and then to take some strong action. With the help of another mate, Crusty, we drew up a contract and forced Blossie to sign it, whereupon it was witnessed and officially stamped. The contract was worded as officially as we could, and somehow, ended up sounding like a court summons (Well, we all were pretty familiar with the weird wording contained in a summons). It read:
‘I, Blossie Mason (hereinafter known as the defendant or arsehole), do hereby solemnly swear to buy one motorcycle, to wit, Triumph Trident 750 cc, from Spooner Motorcycles of Pittwater Road, Brookvale, at ten o’clock in the forenoon. Failure to attend said motorcycle shop will result in a bashing. Signed: Blossie Mason. Witnessed by: Ajay, Crusty, Custer and Basil the Seafarer.
I even attached one of the photographs of the Trident to the document, then dripped candle wax and pressed a beer bottle-top into the wax for a serious looking seal.
Much to our surprise, it worked. On the Tuesday night, a fully-smiling Blossie walked in the back door of the pub, leather jacket on and helmet dangling off his hand. Of course, he shuffled the doormat halfway up the door to prop it open, leaving a full and beautiful view of our bikes parked out back. Right in the middle of the lot, and making the rest look decidedly scruffy, was a brand-new, shiny-as-all-get-out, maroon and white Triumph Trident.
“Thanks for making me sign that contract, fellas,” was all he said as he ordered a round of beers for us. At least now we knew what it took to get Blossie to shout a round of beers.
Biker Road Tales By Kelly Ashton