Background story: Belfountain, 1983

On 29-apr-09, at 4:23 pm, image production wrote: -original message-from: richardson, marksent: wed 4/29/2009 3:46 pmto: image productionsubject: -original message-sent: wednesday, april 29, 2009 3:44 pmto: richardson, marksubject: subject/name:story slug/folder: wh-bikes2caption: mark richardson's kawasaki gpz750 and honda cb350fsection: wheelsreporter: mark richardsonsource: mark richardsoncredit: mark richardson/toronto star

This is the first of a new series that tells the background story behind some of our favourite photos. Do you have a great picture with a great story? Send it to me at and fame and fortune could all be yours. Well, fame anyway. – Ed.

This is me with my new Kawasaki GPZ 750. My mom took the photo. I bought the bike for myself for my 21st birthday. I also bought a pair of black leather pants that I wore for the first time when I went out to collect the bike from Two Wheel Motorsports in Guelph. The leather pants were really tight because I needed them to do double duty as disco pants on a Friday night. When I’d signed the forms and the dealer gave me the GPZ’s keys and told me I could ride away, I swung my leg over the seat and promptly split the pants right up the backside. I rode home from Guelph on my brand-new bike with my ass in the wind.

The first thing I did to the bike when I got home was grind away at the bottom of the footpegs with a metal file. A couple of weeks later, I was parked somewhere and a guy admired my bike. He got chatting and he asked if I really knew how to ride it. I gave a little grin and said, “Just look at the pegs…” He squatted down and saw all the striations in the metal. “Wow,” he said – “You must really be able to ride!” I nodded like Mr. Cool. “Because these grooves in the bottom of the pegs all go out from the bike,” he continued, “and if you were going around corners, they’d be parallel with the bike.” Busted!

That’s a work of art, that is, and all it cost was a rear tire. And the goodwill of the neighbourhood residents.

There were some monster homes being built on a new private road just off the Forks of the Credit Road in Belfountain, and the road was so new it was immaculate. When I finally wore down my rear tire enough that it needed replacing, I went there with my mom following behind and she took photos of me laying down this perfect Figure 8. I wish I could find those photos, but this is the only one that remains. The road was empty and nobody came along, but the following week I went there in a car with some friends to show them my artwork and we were chased away as trespassers by an angry  home owner.

I owned that bike for two years and rode flat out everywhere. One time early on a Sunday morning, I was pulled over by a cop on Hwy. 401 for riding at 130 km/h in a construction zone with an 80 km/h limit. He asked where I was going in such a hurry; I told him I was late for teaching a motorcycle safety class in Toronto. I got a ticket and it was enough, with previous tickets, to send me to an interview with the Ministry of Transportation to explain why I shouldn’t lose my licence.¬† It was my second interview with the Ministry and although I didn’t lose my licence, I saw the writing on the wall and sold the bike for a dirt bike. I loved that GPZ.



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