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Frank 79 and still in the saddle

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Retired farmer Frank Pottenger can boast almost as many nuts, bolts and metal plates in his body as his classic motorcycle – one of only three ever built.

While most 79-year-old pensioners might be content with a sedate retirement, Frank is still riding his Triumph Daytona 500cc motocross bike, built by legendary motorcycle rider and engineer the late Eric Cheney.

“I’ve had a long career on motorcycles and must have broken every single bone in my body at some time or other and have metal plates and screws all over the place!” said Frank, of Froncysyllte.

The Triumph Daytona, built for him by Cheney 28-years ago and one of only three of its type, is in absolute pristine condition and will be one of the stars on display at the Llangollen Motorcycle Show at the Royal International Pavilion on August 7th and 8th. Frank, whose son Gary and grandsons Ross and Ryan have now taken over the competitive duties, still gives riding demonstrations at shows, sometimes alongside former Triumph works rider John Giles – who is 83!

Cheney, who died aged 76 in 2002, was a legend in the motorcycle racing world and all top British enduro riders used his machines and even film star Steve McQueen.

“I started riding in 1953 and I’m still riding,” said Frank. “The youngsters cannot believe I can still chuck a 500cc about.”

In his heyday Frank was Salop scramble champion and was a regular competitor, picking up quite a few other titles.

“My brother-in-law bought a Cheney Triumph and I rang Eric and asked if he had enough bits left to build me one. He rang back and said ‘yes’. It had nine inches travel on front and back suspension,” said Frank who can remember starting his scrambling on a rigid BSA which had no suspension.

His brother-in-law’s machine was sold on and has disappeared, as has the third model built by Cheney which went onto the Continent. Frank paid £1,200 for his bike 28 years ago and with all the bits chromed and nickel plated – “almost too nice to ride” – he estimates it is worth anything between £4,500 and £5,000 today, although he would never sell it.

In fact he used to make enough winnings in a year to buy a new bike every year. “In theory I could but I spent it mainly on women!” said Frank.

These days Frank lives on top of the hill in Froncysyllte in a beautiful home he built out of a pigsty and runs a business renting out classic Jaguar wedding cars. He has two of the Mark II (Inspector Morse) Jags, two Mark IX’s (9’s) and some XJS convertibles, which will also be on display at the Llangollen show.

At this year’s show, the third staged by Xuberance Events, there will be a special award,   given in memory of well-known and popular Llangollen motorcyclist Victor Jones, who died recently, aged just 59.

Victor, of Pengwern, who used to ride a classic 1964 Matchless 650cc and was a huge fan of classic bikes, gave up his job in the building industry to care for his brother Frank when he started to suffer from impaired vision.

At Victor’s funeral, about 30 motorcycles provided a biker escort for the cortege to Pentre Bychan crematorium which was packed out with more than 300 mourners, many of them biker friends.

Organiser David Green explained: “Victor’s bike was the first bike to arrive at the first ever Motorbike Show and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to honour his memory in this way.”

One of the highlights of this year’s event will be the popular Biker Babe competition and biker fans can vote for their favourite on the event’s website, and it’s not yet too late for aspiring biker babes to enter.

Among the displays at the show will be beautiful old bikes from the collection of Llangollen Motor Museum proprietor Gwilym Owen.

There’ll also be motorbike displays, expert advice clinics, a club corner, a live action arena as well as a custom bike show.

Entries for the North Wales Biker Babe competition, including the photograph and the 50 word biography, should be e-mailed to [email protected]

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