Billy “The Mayor” Vickery of Regents Park, Logan City, turned 93 last November and is still riding hard, admitting he doesn’t always stick to the speed limit.
He could be the oldest rider in Australia, but you wouldn’t know it when Billy whips by, throttle pinned on his Honda CB400 Super Four.
“I love it. I would ride every day if I could afford it,” he says.
“It’s the feeling of being able to do whatever you want to do. I don’t always stick to the speed limit.
“It’s now slower than when I was riding bikes with poor brakes and cross-ply tyres.
“Speed limits are for trucks and buses.”
Billy was born in Sydney on 14 November 1926 and moved to Queensland a couple of decades ago to be closer to his grandchildren.
Sadly, in 2002 he lost his wife, Frances, but she still rides with him every day on his keyring.
Billy started riding an Acme two-stroke at 14 but didn’t get his licence until he was 17.
“I rocked up on my Honda CB500 and the copper said, ‘Well you got here, didn’t you?’ and gave me the licence,” he says.
“That was how coppers were back then.”
Some time later Billy met his wife-to-be at a midget car race meeting.
“I was learning the piano accordion at the time and racing midget sprint cars when I met Frances,” he says.
“I quickly sold the piano accordion for a BSA 500 to take her for rides.”
Unfortunately on one of those romantic rides, the BSA’s immovable pillion peg dug in on a corner and they all ended up in the bushes.
“Frances lost the lower part of her leg,” he says.
Tragically gangrene worked its way up her leg over the years, ultimately claiming her life.
They had been married 53 years.
“I had a Harley outfit at one stage and we would go everywhere,” he says.
Billy brings out his photo albums and it’s filled with a wide variety of bikes he’s owned.
“You name it, I’ve had it,” he says.
Billy’s favourite was a Yamaha XJR1300.
However, he says in recent years he’s sensibly downsized to the CB400.
“I started out on a Honda and I want to finish on a Honda,” he says.
Billy has also raced a plethora of brands at Bathurst, Amaroo Park and Eastern Creek, including a track-ready 1976 GoldWing!
“I don’t remember what championships I won, but I did all right,” says the former Gladesville Motorcycle Club racer.
“Rossi Valentino is my hero. I don’t know why they don’t give him a proper bike.”
Billy has also had a truck licence and has driven semis over the years.
“My doctor took the truck licence off me, but I still have a car and bike licence for three years. I could have had them for five years, but I decided to take three and carry a medical certificate with me.
“I’m taking things one day at a time.”
He’s also had a few run-ins with the law.
On one occasion he was pulled over by the police while riding his Suzuki 1200 Bandit which he had fitted out with blue LED “safety” lights.
“The copper let me off with a warning to take them off,” he says.
“I wasn’t going to, but I did and a few days later I saw him again, so just as well.”
On another occasion he was riding with a group who were pulled over for a breathalyser, except for him.
When he asked why, the cop said he would “laugh like buggery” if Billy was over the limit.
Billy mostly rides with the Gold Coast Ulysses Club who gave him the moniker of “The Mayor” out of respect for his age.
The Burringbar Range on the Tweed Coast seems to be Billy’s favourite stretchy of smooth, twisting tarmac.
“I always pass the ride captain there,” he says.
“The little girl (CB400) lifts her skirts up and really goes.
“I suspect a couple of speeding tickets will be coming in the post soon, but I’ve been lucky over the years.”
Billy admits to a few crashes in his time, usually when riding too fast for his own skills.
On one occasion he laid down his GoldWing when he knew he wouldn’t make a corner and in another he ended up with a stick going through the leg of his decades-old leathers which he says are “getting a bit thin in the arsehole from crashes”.
“I always wear leathers, a yellow jacket and Rossi boots and gloves. Won’t ride without them.”
The yellow jacket isn’t necessarily so he can be seen by other traffic, but by the other riders in his group as he is usually so fast, he frequently ends up as corner marker.
You don’t get to 93 and keep riding without being able to pass on some riding tips.
“My tip is to stay out wide so you can see around the corner; don’t cut in too early,” Billy says.
“I also have a little voice up here,” he says, tapping his temple.
“I think it’s Frances telling me to behave. I think that’s saved me a few times.”
We wish Billy many more safe years in the saddle. What an inspiration he is to us all!