Bill's Vincent Adventure

The year was 1969, and Bill Jenkins was staying in London on an extended visit. When he learned that Geoff Dodkin (of Velocette fame) was selling a Vincent Rapide, Bill bought it and promptly dismantled it for an overhaul. New pistons were installed, a valve job done and the customary fettling performed. It was still in pieces, though, when he was called back to the States due to a family emergency. Bill quickly slapped the Rapide back together and flew with it back to New York.

At this point the bike was resting in a freight terminal at JFK airport, but wasn't running. Thanks to friendly airport people, though, Bill was allowed to spend several days working on it in a hangar and finally rode it away. His next stop was his sister's home in upstate New York. After a few days there, it was time for him to head home with the Rapide.

Bill lived near Dallas, Texas - twelve hundred miles from upstate New York. Many folks would hesitate to ride this distance on a newly-assembled motorcycle, but with the intrepid spirit typical of Vincent riders he was undeterred. Other riders, unafraid of the long ride, might have noticed that it was the middle of winter and that New York state was covered with a foot of snow. This, along with the fact that heated handgrips had not yet been invented, would have discouraged them. But not Bill. Sharing the streak of insanity typical of Vincent riders, he set out for Dallas anyway. These pictures, taken as he left New York, are offered as proof.

He made it safely back to Dallas, but the tale has a sad ending - only a few weeks afterwards, the Rapide was stolen. Bill, a long-time member of the Lone Star section, passed away in 2022 - he was a unique and accomplished character, and will be greatly missed by his friends in and out of the section.