"Oui, oui, oui, oui, oui. Cinq francs." A dollar. I paid the five francs.
"Merci. Merci beaucoup...."
"Rien!" It is nothing, he insisted. We lashed our gear, and I mounted the BSA, turned the key and kicked it over. As the engine revved, the old man tilted an ear down as though to hear what it had to tell him.
The old head was tilted like an unsure but curious pup's. I revved again, dismounted and held a hand up to the old man until he saw me nod. "Oui" he said, nodded and smiled. He stood there watching, listening. "Oui, oui." He mounted, revved and revved, to learn the time between himself and the machine.
He squeezed the clutch lever, not looking at it, found first gear and eased the lever out and the cycle moved slowly up the street. When the engine began to roar, the old man did not hesitate but shifted up to second, roared again and double-clutched into third. He was doing nearly 60 approaching the corner, when he double-clutched back down to second, leaned for the corner until the footpeg scraped the pavement and threw up sparks. Then we could not see him but heard him come out of the turn winding up, shifting, winding up, shifting, winding up and away.