Meet the Member – Carl Flint

Name and where you live

Hello, my name is Carl Flint and I live in the centre of Reading, close to the University and Royal Berks Hospital. As I am getting on a bit, living close to the hospital is very handy!

I am now fully retired and have the time to do what I want, when I want to do it! Marvellous! I took my first degree, a BSc in Agriculture at Reading University getting a first class honours and then went on to do a PhD in Agricultural Botany. I became a civil servant in 1978, joining the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS) a department of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, which has morphed many times and been amalgamated with other departments, more or less ending up as the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), notice no mention of agriculture any more!

What’s your day job?

In the good old days in the early 1980s at ADAS, I was overseeing the payout of large Common Agriculture Policy subsidies to feather bedded farmers (a taunt that will be well known by a certain generation) but by the middle to late 1980s everything was getting much less interesting after Jim Prior introduced his so called Blue Book, which meant that ADAS had to sell its services and get revenue from industry funded contracts. At this point I decided the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and joined a private commercial company.

So my day job was an Agronomist and Radio 4 Archers fans will recognise the job title straight away (David Archer would be heard to say ‘I am going to the wheat with my agronomist to see if there is a problem with any mildew’). In simple terms I used to sell advice, seeds, fertilisers and crop protection products (aka pesticides) to farmers growing cereals, oilseed rape, peas and beans. I had a client base of some 12 large arable farms along the M4, that in the Spring I would visit every 10 to 14 days to manage their crops.

How long have you been riding?

My first involvement with motorbikes started at the age of 16, when my father bought me a green Bond Mk E three wheeler, to help me learn to drive a car. All I had to do was put some L plates on and I was away having great fun. One of the things about the Bond that made my classmates at Lord Williams Grammar School in Thame laugh their heads off, was when I opened up the bonnet and kick started the engine to fire it up. The Bond had a 250 cc Villiers engine (commonly used in motorbikes) mounted on the front wheel column so that when the wheel turned so did the engine (there was no reverse). Mind you I had the last laugh on them, for I could disappear home in the Bond rather than having to wait for the school bus!

My parents emigrated to South Africa in 1968 and while not happy about it, I had to go with them. There I got my first proper motorbike, a Honda PC50, 49 cc of air cooled liberation. Mind you the engine was rubbish for I was regularly seizing up the big end, for the lubrication of the needle roller bearings was antideluvian!

I forget how I passed my motorcycle test but not long after I progressed onto a Yamaha YR1, 350 cc two stroke twin, that was powerful, lightweight, fast and a lot of fun to ride. Of course the weather in Durban, South Africa was ideal for a bike.

I was not happy in South Africa during the height of apartheid, so working on the docks in Durban, including night shifts, driving a crane, unloading the holds of merchant boats allowed me to earn a lot of money. It was enough in late 1970 to buy a return flight to the UK and also my next bike, a gorgeous new Norton 750 cc Commando. It had wonderful torque, masses of chrome and only a very minor leak from the sump.

The image below was taken at Cassington, my bike was signal box red.

In 1978 I bought a second hand BMW R80; I could not be doing with a chain any more. I sold it in late 1980 after my son was born. In September 2016 I bought from Chandlers in Brighton, second hand, my current bike, an R1200RT.

Tell us about your current bike

My RT, a liquid cooled 2014 plate, has been a big step up for me in all senses of the word. Great fun to ride, so far exceptionally reliable and very good weather protection. A slight downside is its weight and width with the panniers and fairing.

Can you share a favourite route you’ve ridden or a memorable trip you’ve made?

I do enjoy very much getting the bimmer loaded up with my camping gear. Recent excursions have been to Crickhowell in Wales, Cheddar Gorge, Sandringham in Norfolk and Ludlow.

My first major tour ever was this year in May, when I went on the Oxford Section, Andalucia Tour in Spain. It was some experience and I learned a lot, in particular, I took far too much stuff with me! I can see why so many UK bikers head off to Plymouth board the ferry and get off at Santander and either head south or west. The equivalent of their A roads are very well maintained, have little traffic and a joy to ride. I was very fortunate to have a group of experienced riders that looked after me and I was able to learn from them. I was lucky that the tour organiser, Martin Hall, who did a fantastic job, organising the excellent hotels, had built in several days to allow some feathered bird watching, the highlight being 25,000 red flamingos at Fuente de Piedra, about 50 miles north of Malaga.

Before I set off, I splashed out on a Rev-IT vented suit, assuming it would be very hot in the south of Spain, not a bit of it. There was possibly one day out of our 15 days when the temperature got above 27 deg Celsius.

This image of me in the vented suit, also has Ian and Mo Dobie, Ray Cawte, Jane and Dick Robinson.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a motorcyclist?

We are an odd bunch, fascinated by the power and liberty riding two wheels gives and great risk takers each time we mount the saddle. Being on a powerful motorbike on a good A road, in good weather, with lots of fast bends and open countryside has little to compare with it, and while I drive a Mini Cooper S that handles corners brilliantly, the pleasure is not the same, for I do not feel as one with the Mini as I do on the bimmer.

And are there any downsides?

Only the frequent need for new tyres!

If money and/or time weren’t an issue, what would be your ideal trip or what would be your perfect bike?

East coast to west coast tour of the USA on a GSA

Apart from motorcycling, what are your other interests?

I have a very good shed at the bottom of the garden where I can indulge in my woodworking hobby.

My sporting passion is Rugby Union and I have been a season ticket holder for Wasps for many years now, starting when they played in west London at Loftus Road, then moved to Adams Park, High Wycombe and now I hope for the long-term at the Ricoh Arena at Coventry. I go to most home matches and use the RT as much as possible to get up there and back.

I have recently joined the Thames Vale Advanced Motorcyclists and I am working towards taking my IAM test over the next few months.

I have recently become a committee member of the Oxford Section and have been pleased to be able to be part of the Satnav Steering Group for the Garmin Nav V/VI navigation and route planning.

Tuesday mornings are usually spent at the Salvation Army’s Willow House, Reading, where I am a volunteer getting involved with a number of projects that could help make a difference to some of the homeless and unemployed.

Originally posted 2018-12-17 10:57:05.

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Author: Carl Flint

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