Redbull hangár

Redbull hangár

2013. május 23., csütörtök

Father on two wheels

Text: Gabriella, photos: Szabolcs Simó

One of the goals of the blog is not just presenting unique vehicles, but their extraordinary owners as well. Veteran motorbikes haven’t been a topic before, but they will be addressed now in an extraordinary way.

I’ve known Father Gábor for 8 years, since he arrived to the roman-catholic parish of my little village, Budajenő. He is part of our family life like others’, as we regularly see him to practice his profession at marriage ceremonies or unfortunately at funerals. He is evangelizing not just at masses, but at Bible lessons in the kindergartens and elementary schools, he’s visiting ill people tirelessly and organizing excursions to the local Catholic community zealously. People of the 5 (!) villages where he provides the pastoral service (in a 7/24 duty with some exaggeration), like him very much for his cheerful, unstuffy personality and active community participation - independently of their religion. That’s why I do think, that similar priests of the countryside are the real superheroes of the modern age, the only difference is, that their reverend waves after them, not a red mantle. (As for Father Gábor, usually only the contrail can be seen after him as he runs between places. But he always waves to people.)
Usually I saw him to travel between the villages by bicycle or his old Suzuki Swift, but I didn’t know about him, that he’s enthusiastic about veteran motorcycles, even more,  he has an 54 years old D-Csepel and a 46 years old Pannonia P10 (both of them former Hungarian brands), renewed partly by himself. It has turned out at the first sanctification of the vehicles to the local motorbike friends’ club and as I thought it extraordinary, I asked him to tell me about this passion.

I saw, that there was motorbike sanctification again on the 1st of May. Where did its idea come from?

It wasn’t me or Budajenő who contrived it. Friend of motorbikes here asked me to do it, when they heard, that I sympathize with to two-wheeled vehicles. This is the third year when we hold it. The sanctification of vehicles is attached to the name of Saint Cristopher too, who is the patron saint of travelers. It is a tradition in this area, Piliscsaba and Páty also have this ceremony. The motorbike club collected donations to the school at the latter place. Not money, but toys and stationery. Which is a noble, because they not just felt good, but helped those who is happy about even a packet of copy paper. 

The motorbike sanctification in front of the church
When did your interest born regarding motorbikes?

I didn’t ride a bike in my teenage, but the boys in the neighborhood had a Riga (former Soviet brand) and a Simson (ex East-German, maybe it still exists) and there was a little good-carrier built from a Csepel 125 motorbike – the engine was in the back and a small loader section in front. I rode on it sometimes, as it had a backseat.  Later I went to look after gardens with my friends to get an extra income beside our salary and once I saw a rusty a 125 D Csepel standing in a garden. Then I fall in love with it and decided to renew it. I had only veteran bikes nothing else. Friend and priest mates all stepped up to higher levels, one of them bought a Triumph 2300 Rocket and another one to Honda 1800. But I’ve never desired modern motorbikes. And riding is not something which completely fulfills my life. It’s enough to me to take out and clean them sometimes when the weather is goo, and go a bit around.

Alone or with local people?

As a priest, I always “proceed against the traffic”.  I mean, that we always do something else like other people, because they lay back and make excursions on Sundays, but these they are the busiest days for us. When we came back from Lake Balaton, to provide the weekend pastoral service, everybody goes there then. Who has a “civilian” job has freetime when I haven’t and vice versa.

How long did the 125 D-Csepel take to renew?

One year. The other took shorter time. And of course I did it, when I could tear away an hour from my freetime. 

The D-Csepel

And its production number under the engine block
Only one year? And how did you start the first one?

I had an acquaintance who had practice in it, so I asked him to help and there was a handyman in our street, who had motorbikes. He knew the process of renewing, how to prepare it painting for example. I asked advices and as every rookie, I fell into those traps which you need to experience, for example which part can be chromed and who are the not honest painting specialist. There is good specialist background now who do their job with paying attention and don’t put it into acid leaving rust holes on it, but waiting for the money from the inexperienced customer. Fortunately the oldtimer bike community is really beyond this era. There are many who can get parts, some “bake” rubber seat (because they do it on high temperature in this process) or rubber footrest. Craftsmen realized the demand and took it as a good market opportunity. My goal was to preserve the past a bit with their renovation.

And did these acquaintances help in getting the necessary parts too?

The D-Csepel is not a very rare type. For example, there was an engine block in pieces on the garret of a relative of me and I went about open-eyed watching if I can see something useful in the back-gardens. I found a dismantled Pannonia like this. 

The P10 Pannonia

And what about the other motorbike, the Pannonia P10? Where did you find it?

It was a father’s bike. When I was working at the thermal power station at Százhalombatta, a colleague of mine saw it at him in Ercsi. I had the red Csepel already and went to work with it sometimes, so he knew, that I’m interested in veteran motorcycles and he mentioned it to me. I decided to get it, but by the time when I realized it, the owner has died. So I could buy it from his heritors with its trailer for 10.000 HUF 15 years ago.

Was it also in a bad condition?

No, it was better, but its painting wasn’t that nice. But as the lingo says: it was a good renovation base. It hadn’t got a non-original part, it wasn’t sawed through. I saw only one thing: a pipe leaded the oil from the air filter onto the chain and there always piled up because of the two-stroke gasoline and oiled it continuously. It has a disadvantage, that when I stop the bike, the oil dripped out from it. So I dismantled this little tween.

You mentioned, that you rather use the Pannonia. But do you also ride the older one sometimes?

No, because its license has expired and should mend the clutch too.

Is there any type these days, what you would like to get and renew?

I begin to give up these things. Once would have liked a four-stroke one and actually I had a Horex. This is a German bike, its production started before the II WW and continued after it in West-Germany. I bought it when I was a seminarian, but I sold it soon, because it took up my mind too much, that I should burnish and paint it. I felt, that God’s love what I experienced by it, I could show to God relinquishing from something what I like.

Somehow I feel, that renewing was a bigger joy to you, than riding.

Yes, indeed.

When you sit on your Pannonia, where and how far do you go with? And what does it mean to you?

I would like to emphasis, that I’m not a serious rider. If you compare it to traveling by train or car, it is a really good feeling to ride free, feel the nature around you, the scent of colza fields and or as a bird is flying beside you. There are birds which enjoys to race against me. It’s unequivocal, that they could choose another way, but they fly beside me with the same speed. But there’s the danger too. You are more unprotected, vulnerable to a pot hole, an animal what jumps out onto the road or an inattention of an oncoming car driver. Many of them overtakes with not caring, that the closeness what he/she keeps beside you is disturbing. So I feel safer that Suzuki what I use on weekdays, than this 46 years old motor motorbike. I always need to listen what rattles, how works the point gap or do the lamps light. 

Have you ever had an accident?

Yes. It happened 18 years ago, a combine harvester sprouted out to the main road from a street and we crashed into it relatively luckily. We hit its header, I broke my nose and got pneumothorax, my passenger injured not so seriously, he twitched in the leg.

How far do you go with it usually?

I was in the Highland (Slovakia) and in Sopron (Hungarian city near to the Austrian border) with priests friends.

As I see, it is a popular freetime activity among your “colleagues”. Do you have a motorbike club in the church?

We don’t have in our diocese, but as far as I know there are elsewhere and the Greek Catholics surely have one.
Many of those whom I finished the seminar had a motorbike. This numbers reduced during the years, only me and one of them had, but somebody bought one recently, so we plan again to take an excursion with the bikes this summer.

Kind of a rarity at the end. The Father got this letter weight/centre piece from his uncle. Somebody made it most probably after the IIWW and interestingly mixes 2 combat arms and religion. (Although the Father put the picture into it, a family photo was in it before.)

We would like to thank you the report making permission to the Bishop's Office.

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