Friday - a normal work day for me. Thunder storms and rain galore, phones and internet off, just in case. Many fingers and toes being crossed that the weather for the weekend would improve.
Saturday 22nd May - ROARING DAY at Grampian Transport Museum, Alford, Aberdeenshire. Up at 5am, fed the lambs nice and early, about 6am, then gave them an early lunch at 12ish, before I rushed off to Alford in the car and Mrs BC went next door to feed their chickens as they're away for the weekend. She then came on over in the truck, bringing some more bits and pieces that we needed. Ivan and Co. (Co. includes Grahame, Joy, Mick & Linda) were already there, so was our Man on the Gate, Kawa, which was just as well as people were turning up a little on the early side. Whiffling Clara and the Roarer were out of the van and being fettled, and lucky lucky Mick got to do a few laps of the track on one of them, Clara I think, just to warm it up and run it in - other than being started after the rebuild to make sure all was ok with the bike, this was the first time it had been run in about 30 years.
Mrs BC and Linda set out all the food and tables in the hall, and Malc from the Museum had helped set the chairs up in the other hall, and at 2pm silence fell. Ivan made his way to the front, cleared his throat, and captivated the audience of about 70 for a full hour. After the talk, it was time to get the bikes on the track, and helpers were sought from the crowd, to give a little push. As you can imagine, plenty of fit young men volunteered, but no matter how many times they ran up and down, they just could not get the Roarer to start. Grahame was aboard the bike and each time it coughed into life and he gave it some revs it just died again. Ivan has obviously done this sort of thing before so he nipped off and reappeared with Whiffling Clara.
Several laps of the Alford circuit with Clara kept the people happy, and he came back in just in time as the heavens opened and down came the rain. Heavy rain. VERY heavy rain. Still, we were ready for it and ushered people into the refreshments room, for refreshments, oddly enough. In the background ran a video of the Roarer when it was re-born in 1989 (or was it '86?) and all seemed to enjoy the chance to chat about what they'd just witnessed. Grahame and Mick got the spanners out and as the rain stopped, the Roarer started. Fantabby-tastic. I can't actually describe the sensation as Ivan took to the track again, apart from to say that it is rather well named! Hopefully I got it on video so that will do a better job of conveying the moment that I can.
After a bit more track time, it was back into the pits for more chat, tea, biscuits and cake, and a chance for anyone to speak to Ivan and Grahame. With the hard work over for the day, we all packed up, Mrs BC had to head home to feed the lambs again, plus check all of the other sheep and chickens and feed the dogs and make sure all was ok on the homestead. Meanwhile, the Committee of the NE Scottish Section accompanied the Rhodes family out for a meal as a gesture of thanks.
Pics and vids to follow, and I'd be most grateful if ANY of you wanted to write a wee piece or send me an email about your thoughts on the Rhodes Show.
SUNDAY 23rd May - FIRST EVER SCOTTISH VINTAGE TRAINING DAY
Oh boy, up at 5am again. Fed the lambs, checked the ewes, let the chickens out and fed next doors hens. Zoomed over to the Museum at Alford and got there bang on time. Boy was it hot. Chairman of the Vintage Motorcycle Club Kim Allen and his wife Steph, and Immediate Past President Colin Seaton were present and had things under control. Kim rolled the Reed Scott out of the van and Steph took charge of the signing in. Colin made sure everyone was ready and prepared before giving his Owners and Riders briefing. The two groups were taken aside separately and the rules of the day made clear to everyone. We managed to get the first bikes out on the tack just after 9.30 so all was going nicely to schedule. Colin took up his position at the edge of the track to act as the final traffic control, I had the spot just outside the paddock, trying to keep an eye on bikes coming in, going out and making sure everyone got to try a bike. Some people were, understandably nervous. Crikey, I was nervous and I wasn't even going to be riding the bikes! It took a while for the system to get rolling but once a few brave ones had gone out and come back and moved on to their second bike, others came forward and had a go.
Mrs BC was doing a grand job of filming as much of the activities as possible and I was trying to make sure I got enough photos of everybody and every bike to form a bit of an archive of the event - after all, there will never be another FIRST SCOTTISH TRAINING DAY!! Somehow, I ended up with about 5 cameras round my neck, taking pics for Shorty, Kawa, Iain, someone else and my own. No wonder I've got a sore neck! After the first hour or so, Colin allowed a few more bikes on the track at the same time, starting with 5 to make sure congestion wasn't a problem, and then slipping a few more out whenever possible.
So, how did it all actually work? Each rider had been issued with a numbered bib when they signed on, and also a Rider Card, detailing each bike, with a space for owners to sign them off.
The bikes we had were -
1921 Reed Scott
1930 BSA Sloper
1930 Ariel LG250
1925 Sunbeam Model 7 outfit
Royal Enfield K32 outfit
1928 Sunbeam Model 2
1929 Panther 500cc
1927 Raleigh Model 17
1925 Royal Enfield Model 180
1929 BSA E29 outfit
1921 Sunbeam Sporting
1922 Indian Powerplus
1928 Sunbeam Model 6
1925 Sunbeam Model 2
1920 Norton 16H
1912 Rudge TT 500
1915 Calthorpe JAP 300
Each time a rider rides a bike, he / she gets the owner to sign it off on their card, so that they don't ride the same bike twice. The owner gives the rider any necessary instructions, shows them the controls, and makes sure they understand how to stop the machine. Starting can be done by the rider or the owner. It seemed to work without any hitches and the best bit was that there was no pressure. No one was watching or waiting to see who could start a bike or who stalled it, no one cared. Everyone was busy having a good time. The nerves at the beginning of the day were palpable. Riders were anxious because for many, if not all of them, these were the oldest and most different bikes they had ever tried, and the owners, well, it's obvious - these machines are their pride and joy!
And there she was...gone...