We last saw each other only about fifteen years ago: the extremely amiable and skilled Mang Yuan as Mister Yamaha showed at that time that there were also good managers. He had been a genetic motorcyclist and for years Yamaha's PR man in the Netherlands and then did the accessories and parts and the project development for the brand with the crossed tuning forks.
The exciting days
When I went along to new model introductions in distant countries, and when motorcycle magazines I worked for at the time needed test bikes, Mang was my point of contact at Yamaha. That was in other times. Life was even more innocent. more open-minded. The foreign trips were well taken care of, any travel organization would have been proud of it. The catering and accommodation were top notch. And the extensive press kits usually included nice gadgets such as watches and – how modern! – USB sticks. During the international presentations, it was striking that the English and Italian journalists were often on the cutting edge to test the engines made available. As a motorcyclist of the less talented sort, I watched with bewilderment as heroes dove into blind curves with a bang, disregarding all that could wait behind that curve on their claimed ideal line. Sometimes things went wrong. But in today's world it was a time full of adventure and anecdotes. And aside from that, I heard a lot of horrific things about my latest purchase, the Yamaha XZ550. I will get back to you.
But the risks and the adventure were not only on the asphalt
For a presentation on a circuit in the south of France, Mang had arranged a sports plane that I remember could hold about six people. My memory is sub optimal. What flying in small harnesses is not my thing. Already above Belgium I started to feel clearly less Catholic. Then came the real discomfort. Cold sweats. A clammy forehead. Clammy chill and discomfort at stomach level. I became more and more miserable and quieter. At one point, I took some confidence from the fact that I'd pulled a puke bag from the pocket of the seat in front of me. But that comfort was temporary. I felt the vomit rise, pulled open the puke bag closure and rolled over my neck in a grand manner. The puke bag had a double closure. I hadn't received that for a while. My popularity among my fellow travelers must have been extremely low at the time. It didn't interest me. I just wanted to die. When the worst mess was cleared up, I was at least happy with my clothes vomited up. Mang contacted the Yamaha ground crews and in the south of France I was immediately given a clean, very cool Yamaha outfit on the ground. For the rest of the day, I was admired by attendees who were unaware of how I had gotten my cool stuff. I don't remember anything about the journey home.
A nice reunion
Through all sorts of things and hustle and bustle, Mang and I lost track of each other until we recently got back in the picture. We had both reached retirement age by now. He a little earlier than me. And in the meantime, after two years of idleness, he had decided that he still wanted to do something structural. Via fanfare, smoke signals and the famous network, he was asked to give the classic car branch a firmer face at mega car dealer Broekhuis under the Brooks Classics flag. And despite all his years at Yamaha, Mang had always remained a car enthusiast, a classic enthusiast. So that coin was fine.
And that's the funny thing about people who understand each other: After about fifteen years we were talking as if we had seen each other only yesterday. By the way, it turned out that quite a lot had happened in our shared lives at that time. We had a golden-edged afternoon and parted ways with a firm agreement that our next meeting wouldn't be fifteen years later.