This section includes features on events run by the Club or by Club members for Club members so it is heavily reliant on literary masterpieces by those involved in any of those events.
If you have a feature, please send it to us a StevenageAndDMCC@gmail.com.
Click on any bold green text for related links.
Bikestop Monthly Rideouts
S&DMCC has an excellent relationship with both local motorcycle shops. In fact, Steve & Carol, who own Raceways in the back of the old town are both Club members. The two shops are quite different with Raceways being excellent for servicing, MOTs, bike sales & accessories (along with lower end riding gear) while Bikestop concentrate entirely on higher end riding gear and motorcycle accessories.
Bikestop also has a cafe which makes it an excellent meeting place for bikers and it is often our meetup point for Sunday rideouts. As part of their efforts to create a social atmosphere, Bikestop have an organised rideout on the first Sunday of each month through the summer months. This is led by different motorcycle Clubs from the area but S&DMCC have provided a lot of assistance in getting it setup.
S&DMCC have assisted numerous times and we organised the first and last rideouts of 2019, both of which went really well.
The latter, on Sunday 1st September 2019 lacked volunteers due to a number of reasons, including the Manx GP, where lots of members enjoyed the IOM ambience and racing.
But we had two rides. The first, led by Cider Bob used the "drop off" system which, after a detailed briefing, everyone did their bit and it was very successful with a lot of riders thanking Cider afterwards. Steve Vaughan led the second group on more of a "keep up" method. This too was successful so thanks to both leaders.
Click here for a link to Google Maps to show the route (doesn't seem to work on all devices!) or have a look at the map below:
These Bikestop rideouts are an excellent opportunity to promote the Club so we can continue to gain new members to keep the Club going for years into the future. So please consider volunteering if we are asked to organise any of next year's runs.
Please remember, this is your Club. You plainly joined it for the social aspects. So, to make sure we keep it active and keep getting new members, please get involved.
2019 George Brown Memorial Run
By 9.00 am the early morning rain had been and gone, just leaving a few damp patches on the road.
The officials of the meeting, Chairman Tony Brown, Secretary Mick Taylor and member Gary Jones
were busy at the Cromwell Hotel preparing the entries and route cards etc. Tea and Coffee was on hand
for one and all and a selection of biscuits were available, kindly donated by Mr Gary Jones.
10.00 am and the riders start to arrive, and by 10.30 it was very hectic at start control.
The officials were a bit concerned, as by the start of the run the Road Safety Marshall, Pete Starr
had not arrived. It turned out he had forgot about the run and was out shopping, but he just
made his marshalling point by the time the first wave of riders passed through.
The route was split into two parts - the morning and afternoon. The morning route comprised of a 30 mile ride
taking in Benington, Puckeridge, Little Hadham, Much Hadham and on to the Angel Public House in Ware
for the lunchtime stop.
The afternoon ride was slightly shorter 22 miles taking in Wadesmill, Bengo, Hertford, Datchworth and finally
back to the Cromwell Hotel.
One slight problem which could have caused a slight headache for the organisers... Tony Brown and Bob Voss
went round on the route the previous morning (Saturday) to make sure all the roads were clear, but on reaching
Much Hadham they were greeted by large “Road Closed” signs. Big problems they thought as it would have
been virtually to late to then do a new route and print up new route cards. However they proceeded on through
the Road Closed sign and to their relief there was no sign of any road works and the road was accessible.
By 10.50 am 31 entries had signed up ready for the off at 11.00. Just over one hour later the riders started to arrive
at the Angel pub for a welcomed drink and a very enjoyable ploughman’s lunch. After being fed and watered, off again
on the afternoon route.
With everyone arriving safely back at The Cromwell, it was then down to the judges Jim Carmichael and Pete Starr to do the
daunting task of sorting out all the class winners. This done, the prize giving ceremony then proceeded, with the trophies
being presented by our Chairman.
Many thanks to Ray Thompson for providing the breakdown truck recovery service, thankfully there were no incidents or
breakdowns reported, and also thanks to Nigel and his wife of the Angel for their excellent hospitality.
- Best Post Vintage Solo
- Best Post War Solo
- Best Classic Solo
- Best Modern Classic Solo
- Best Nearly There Classic Solo
- Best Motorcycle & sidecar
- Road Safety Award
- Gay Jones Most Desirable Machine Award
- Ladies Rose Bowl
- Joe Evanson Trophy Best Performance by a non-Club Member
- Terry Ives Trophy Oldest combined age of rider and machine
- Dave Green Trophy Best performance by a club member
- Don Davies Trophy Best club member riding his own bike
- Ian Ashwell Trophy Best entry by a club member
- George Brown Memorial Trophy Best Vincent or HRD
Although open to anyone in the Club, only four could make the dates of a group ride to the Pyrenees - Ian Harris, Carlos Santos, James Carter and Steve Vaughan.
As a start to Ian's 60th birthday celebrations, he arranged a September tour of the Pyrenees Mountains with the thought of taking a larger group in the future in the back of his mind.
The four set off from Portsmouth on 18th September taking the 24-hour ferry trip to Santander.
After an overnight stay at a Santander B&B, they embarked on a long ride to their B&B in Ville Adour in France, close to the Midi-Pyrenees mountains, which they used as a base for their daily tours.
Steve did an excellent job planning some routes to see the highlights of the area which negated the need to stump up extra for guided tours and they all got to ride some of the best motorcycling roads in the world.
If you’ve not ridden in the Pyrenees before, the lads would highly recommend the experience and the hospitality they received at their Spanish and French B&Bs.
There are a few things they would change for next time, but as a first trip it was all a bit of a learning curve and already some of them are talking about doing this again in the future.
2018 George Brown Memorial Run
Report from the Chairman:
Glorious weather once more welcomed us to our 39th Annual George Brown Memorial Vintage Run on Sunday 15th July 2018.
Prior to the day our chairman Tony Brown and club member extraordinaire Bob Voss had been out compiling another wonderful route for us to attack, comprising of twisty narrow lanes and open roads with some very nice straight bits.
On the day back at the Cromwell Hotel, Tony and our secretary Mick Taylor were busy taking entries for the event, with the excellent weather it bought out lots of entries, 35 to be exact.
Come 11 o`clock, the mass exodus of bikes started to leave the Cromwell on their merry way to their morning route.
Last to leave was the breakdown truck kindly driven and loaned by Ray Thompson.
By 11.10a.m. all was quite at the Cromwell apart from Mick and Gary “The Voice” Jones clearing up ready to leave for the lunchtime stop.
Just after 12 midday, the riders started to arrive at the lunchtime stop, The Hoops at Bassingbourn for a well deserved drink.
The landlord had laid on a truly scrumptious Ploughman’s Lunch for one and all.
1.30p.m and they were all off again on the afternoon route back to the Cromwell Hotel for the judging and prize presentation.
The list of the winners is:
- Post vintage solo: Brian Young Norton.
- Post war solo: Andy Morris BSA
- Classic solo: Chris Fry Yamaha
- Modern classic solo: Melvyn Stimson Honda
- Nearly there classic solo: Ron Harvey Kawasaki
- Sidecars: Peter Johnson BSA
- Road Safety: Geoff James
- Most desirable machine: Bob Voss Norton
- Joe Evanson Trophy: J Barringer
- Terry Ives Trophy: Brian Young
- Dave Green Trophy: Steve Vaughn
- Don Davies Trophy: Bob Voss
- Ian Ashwell Trophy: Dave Hubbard
Have a look at the Gallery for some photos.
2017 George Brown Memorial Run
Glorious weather welcomed us on Sunday 9th July 2017 for our 38th annual George Brown Memorial Run.
Riders started arriving at the Cromwell Hotel Stevenage old town from about 10.00 am ready for the off at 11.00 am.
Our secretary Mick Taylor and Chairman Tony Brown were busy inside taking entries, while the majority of riders and spectators were outside, viewing the wonderful array of machines on display, while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee.
A record total of 41 entries were received plus about 10 others on modern day bikes doing the run as a Sunday Ride Out.
The route covered a total of 53 miles around the roads of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, with a lunch time stop at the Vicars Inn Arlesey, where an excellent ploughman lunch and liquid refreshments we much welcomed by our warm and hungry riders. A total of 53 bikes were on display in the car park. Many thanks to the hardworking bar staff at the Vicars Inn.
After lunch it was time to do the afternoon route back to the Cromwell Hotel for the judging of the best bikes in each class and the prize presentation.
Everyone made it round the route safely, including Andy Davenport's four legged friend, poppy, tucked in the tank bag of his Vincent. No breakdowns were reported but many thanks to Ray Thompson and the breakdown crew for following up at the rear, just in case.
Our President's wife Hazel was on hand to hand out the trophies which were as follows
Best Vintage Solo: Brian Young Norton
Best Post Vintage Solo: Chris Sawyer Cotton
Best Post War Solo: Dave Ricketts BSA Rocket
Best Classic Solo: Dave Hubbard Greeves
Best Modern Classic solo: Cliff Morris Honda CBX
Best Nearly There Classic Solo: Howard Spencer Honda
Best Sidecar: Pat Barrett Yamaha
Dave Green Trophy Best performance by a club member: Tony Brown Aermacchi
Don Davies Trophy Best member riding his own bike: Gordon Hallett Benelli
Ian Ashwell Trophy Best entry by a club member: Pete Webb Triumph Trident.
Other Annual Awards.
Road Safety Award: K. Desborough AJS
Most Desirable Machine Award: Dave Hubbard Greeves
Ladies Rosebowl Best Performance by a Lady: Nicole Gale Yamaha
Joe Evanson Award Best Performance By a Non Club Member: Andy Davenport & his dog Poppy Vincent
Terry Ives Trophy Oldest Combine age of bike and rider: Brian Young
George Brown Memorial Trophy Best Vincent or HRD on the run: Clive Smith
Many thanks to all those members who helped out today, Gary Jones, Cider Bob, Uncle Albert, Ray Thompson, Jim Carmichael, Bob Voss, Mick Taylor and myself. Sorry if I've left any one out.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those riders who took part in the run today, it makes all the organising worth while when so many of you turn up to what was a truly excellent day and hope to see you all once again next year.
Tony Brown Chairman
Have a look at some of the lovely machinery here.
Once again, this year the club has made a number of charitable donations with the largest being great Ormand street Hospital and our regular recipient, the Herts Air Ambulance.
Don't forget, this year's Herts Air Ambulance Run is on 21st May. Have a look here for a link to their Facebook page or here for their website.
Member's Voting for Annual Trophies 2016/2017
Traditionally, the committee have voted on who should receive trophies at the annual Dinner & Dance.
But this year, we are opening up the voting to all Club members.
So please have a look at the categories below and email us here with your Member nominations and why.
Frank Pepper Trophy
outstandingly poor navigational skills by getting lost
Wes Lord Trophy
done something silly over the past year
Stevenage News Trophy
done an outstanding achievement
Jeff Humphries Memorial Trophy
The Stabilisers Award
fallen off or dropped their bike the most times
The Jan Hallett Memorial Trophy
Dave Kelly TT Trophy
Achievement by a club member (or silly thing) on the annual pilgrimage to the isle of man.
Only Members who went to the Isle Of Man for the 2016 TT can vote for this award
Voting will close in January so there is plenty of time - but don't forget!
George Brown Memorial Sprint
Our founding President was George Brown - Isle Of Man road racer and sprinter of high renown, first with Nero, then the supercharged Super Nero.
Both bikes are now owned by the National Motorcycle Museum but on Sunday 11th September, after their loan was arranged by Chris Illman from the Vintage Motorcycle Club, they lined up together on the grid for the first time ever.
Have a look at the Gallery for a few photos from the meeting.
As we have done for many years, this year has seen several hundred pounds raised by the club for good causes through our various events. Our adopted charity, the Herts Air Ambulance, was the greatest beneficiary but received less this year as we have contributed sponsorship to two club members' racing activities.
Cadwell Park BEMSEE Race Weekend 2016
The British Motorcycle Racing Club (BEMSEE) has a number of interesting classes. S&DMCC member Paul Bryant is having a good year racing a Honda CBR900 Fireblade in the Thunder Bike Extreme class while Scott Aylott is in the Rookie 600s class.
The weekend of 30th & 31st July saw them visiting Cadwell Park for Round 7 of the championship so a biking/camping weekend was planned for any members interested in watching.
Unfortunately, with so many members being at an age where a comfortable hotel room is far more attractive than a "comfortable" field, the event was not well attended but those that went had a cracking time.
The ride up was swift but barely touched main roads. The route took us past the Bedfordshire villages of Sutton & Potton, into Cambridgeshire, past Gamlingay and onto the B1040 near Great Gransden. From there we got past Huntingdon & used country roads with lovely bends to make our way to Pondersbridge where we rejoined the B1040 and thundered up to Crowland. From there, we joined the A16, 17 and A52 for a time before getting onto the B1192 to Conningsby and finally the A153 to Cadwell Park.
The ride up was dry and, after getting free tickets for the full weekend (normal price now £15), we got the tents up and cracked open the first beer of the day.
It was then down to the track to watch some excellent racing from all the classes.
Paul Bryant had improved his lap times significantly; unfortunately, so had everyone else in the Thunder Bike Extreme class. Scott Aylott should have been racing but the Rookie 600 class has been so popular this year that the grid was full before he had got his entry in.
Saturday evening flew by, chatting with race teams and generally just mooching about, taking in the atmosphere. However, it did include a track walk and a short bikeless race on Mansfield corner!
Sunday was another great day's racing but, with a 2 1/2 hour ride ahead of us, we packed up about 3 and were on the road for a dry ride home covering a reverse of the route up.
A really good weekend and excellent value. It's a shame more members didn't come along.
Codicote Village Day 2016
Club member Graham, Landlord of The Goat in Codicote, asked us to get involved in this year's Codicote Village Day.
We didn't have much space so we planned to show the range of members' biking interests. With this in mind, the bikes on display ranged from Chris Sawyer's 1928 Cotton, Jason Holmes' Norton, Roy Brown's Triumph cruiser and Cider Bob's Triumph adventure bike. We also had Paul Bryant's and Russ & Scott Aylott's race bikes.
Paul arrived early and kindly did the majority of the work, sorting out his Faith Fuelled Racing set-up, which we shared to promote the S&DMCC, his own racing and a cause close to his heart, CVM.
The stand was ready from about 10:30 with some of the bikes joining us a little later.
Roy flew the flag in the parade but sadly the logistics meant he was riding alone.
The weather was excellent throughout the day and the visitors showed lots of interest in our stand with some possible new members being attracted.
The 5 Counties MCC were due to be at the show with between 30 & 80 bikes but only 1 turned up so we were delighted to welcome him and his Honda XBR to enjoy the day with us.
George Brown Memorial Vintage Run 2016
A damp and dismal Sunday morning greeted us for our annual George Brown Memorial Vintage Run on Sunday 10th July.
Competitors started arriving just after 10:00 at the Cromwell Hotel, Old Town Stevenage where tea and coffee were freely available (as were the digestive biscuits supplied by Mr Gary Jones).
Being a damp start to the day, it was not envisaged that many competitors would turn up with there prized machines, but a total of 32 riders entered.
At approx 11:00, riders started departing on there 35 mile morning route.
One rider, our Chairman Tony Brown, who had borrowed Gordon Hallet`s Gilera Saturno, only made it four miles to Walkern when the rear suspension unit collapsed and promptly threw the rider down the road. Substantial damage was sustained by the bike, however, Tony carried on the run on another one of Gordon`s bikes - a 250c.c Benelli.
One other competitor decided he would wash his Kawasaki and himself in the ford at Barwick; both rider and bike were ok.
No other incidents were reported and everybody made it safely to the lunchtime stop at the Beehive, Hare Street, where an excellent Ploughmans Meal waited us.
The afternoon route went off without a hitch, with every one arriving safely back to the glorious sunshine at the Cromwell Hotel for the judging and prize presentation, which were handed out by our Presidents wife Hazel.
An excellent day was had by all.
Award winners were as follows:
Best Vintage Solo Chris Sawyer Cotton
Best Post Vintage Solo Chris Garner Triumph
Best Post War Solo Bob Voss Triumph
Best Classic Solo A.Morris BSA
Best Modern Classic Solo K.Covell Suzuki
Nearly There Classic Solo J.Greig Yamaha
Motor Cycle &Sidecar Pete Johnson BSA
Road Safety Award Steve Vaughan
Most Desirable Machine Gordon Hallett Benelli
Joe Evanson Trophy for the best performance by a non club member Peter Lawson Puch
Terry Ives Trophy for the oldest combine age of rider and bike Chris Sawyer 154 years
Don Davis Trophy for the best club member riding his own bike Paul Hawkes Yamaha
Dave Green Trophy for the best performance by a club member Tony Brown Gilers/Benelli
Ian Ashwell Trophy for the best entry by a club member Dave Hubbard Greeves
George Brown Memorial Trophy for the best Vincent Neil Darrell Comet Sidecar .
VMCC Banbury Run 2016
The Banbury Run is the world’s largest gathering of pre 1931 motorcycles.
This year, on Sunday 19th June, our very own Gordon Hallet entered the event on a 1913 German Wanderer 3ps 430cc V twin.
The bike had not been used since the 1950’s and after 18 months work to get it back on the road, Gordon won a trophy for “the bike of most technical interest”.
Well done Gordon.
Scott Aylott's Racing 2016
Scott is having a great first season with the 600ccs. His mechanic, Russ has sent us a few photos but we've been waiting for a report like Paul Bryant's on how they are doing. Fortunately, both Scott and Russ are far better riders than they are writers so we're still waiting. Watch this space...
Check out the Gallery for some photos of Scott and Russ at Snetterton.
Walkern Fair 2016
On the morning of the fair at 10.00am the officers and committee member of the club Set about erecting the club's marquee,a job which should have taken ten minutes,forty five minutes later and still scratching there heads they at last sorted it out.
At the start of the fair at 2.00 pm, the stand was looking very prosperous with a total of sixteen bikes gracing the stand, ranging from vintage to modern day bikes plus a racing bike.
Sun, beer and burgers were the order for the rest of the afternoon until closure at 5.00pm
Paul Bryant's Race Report
One of our members, Paul Bryant, is an experienced BEMSEE racer and the Club is very happy to partly sponsor him in his final season.
The following is his report on his race weekend at Donington Park, 8th to 10th April 2016:
“What an amazing weekend”
Test day on Friday didn’t go according to plan.
I had only ridden at Donington Park once before, when the Minitwins were a guest class at the World Superbike (SBK) event back in 2012.
The plan was to re-learn the circuit on the Fireblade 900RRT and figure out where to change gear.
My first session came to an end after only three laps, as we entered the circuit on slick tyres the spits of rain began to fall, on lap two the Melbourne hairpin was sketchy, on lap three Melbourne seemed ok, but Goddards was slippery, the lack of adhesion flag was displayed on the start finish straight. I slowed significantly on the entry to Redgate, that didn’t stop the front trying to tuck, having saved the slide I ran on into the gravel, keeping the bike upright and powering through to the fence.
Having changed the bike onto wet tyres by the time session two came around the track was again bone dry. Instead of wrecking the wet tyres I sat the session out. Having changed back onto slick I was ready for session three. As we sat in the assembly area it again began to rain. So I sat that final session out also.
This is why I desperately need to get the second bike built so that I have a wet and a dry bike.
So the important testing yielded three sketchy laps.
Qualifying on Saturday was dry. I spent the session still learning gear changes and braking markers.
I managed a lap time of 1:56.5 which was two seconds quicker than my minitwin lap and gave me a start position of 20th. Not too bad, and around about where I usually qualify. Also for the first time I had outdone my minitwin time at a track at the first time of asking.
There were many delays on Saturday due to several nasty incidents in the races. We were last on the program and when our race finally came around it had been raining. There were still spits in the air.
The track was very slippery from the Old hairpin right through until coppice and the back straight.
I got a good start from 20th place and made many positions on the run to Redgate, and overtook a few more throughout the lap and finished lap one in 11th, by Lap three I had got two more and was in 9th. This is where I finished the race which also gave me 7th in class.
Due to the many incidents the rest of the program was called off for the day.
Sunday dawned and the weather was Sunny. Again we had a long wait as we were race 12 and 24 on the program. I was nervous for the race as I would be starting in 9th my highest grid position ever.
I could actually see the lights. I was truly expecting for some of the fast guys who had struggled in the wet to come storming through and that I was probably looking at a top 15 finish. But if I could get away with a quick group I may learn something.
I got away reasonably well and was I in large group, Going down Craner curves Talan Skeels-Piggins lost the front right in front of me and I had to take avoiding action, at the end of lap one I had dropped to 11th, the group was battling hard and positions were changing almost every corner, on lap three I was back up to 10th, lap 4 I got mugged under flashing yellow lights at the Foggy esses and was back to 13th.By this time one of the bikes in front of me was smoking significantly and I was a little cautious as I didn’t want it to blow up crash on his oil. Lap five back to 12th, Lap six up to 11th. And on the final lap 10th. Fabulous result in the dry for me, and also great to be in that group battling and only missing out due to a dubious overtake at the esses. It was another 7th in class.
What is more I had learned the track and my lap time was down to 1:50:5 six seconds better than qualifying and eight seconds better than my minitwin time.
We had to wait until the last race of the day for our final outing and I was starting tenth
Once again my focus was to get off with the quick guys and see where I could go from there.
Lap one there was some toing and froing but I maintained 10th. By lap three I was up to 9th and I was in a group that went up to 7th, throughout the remaining laps we swapped positions on numerous occasions but small mistakes and good overtakes were in evidence from all three of us. I came across the line on the final lap still in 9th, 7th in class again. It had been a fantastic battle and I took another couple of tenths off my best lap time.
This completed what has been my best and most consistent weekend of racing. I have had top ten results before. But I have never been able to deliver three at the same meeting and particularly when the conditions are dry. We are really looking forwards to Silverstone at the end of the month now with a high level of confidence. I finally feel as comfortable on the Honda Fireblade as I did on the minitwin and look to continue racing with the confidence that this brings
2015 Photographic Competition
Up against some impressive competition, including a lovely photo of the Isle Of Man Laxey Wheel from the Chairman, Pat Barrett, this year's photographic competition was won with a photograph of the Swiss Alps, taken by Cider Bob on a European tour on his FJR in September.
The event took place at The Goat, Codecote, and was judged by Graham the Landlord. Thanks to Graham and his staff for a great night with lots of tasty food.
Ride Of Respect - Ring Of Red M25 - 8th Nov 2015
Unfortunately, not many members could do this event but those that could joined North Herts Rideouts and rode down together from a fairly big meet at Sainsbury's. The event was another success and the weather stayed fair so a good time was had by all in remembrance of those that have or continue to serve their country and those that paid the ultimate price.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
"Lest We Forget"
2015 Cheese Skittles Competition
Not the most competitive or fiercely fought competition you'll ever witness but great fun non-the-less.
It involves lobbing a lump of cheese shaped plastic at some skittles and hoping you knock some down.
The results for this year are:
Champion - Glynn on 40 points
Runner up - Dave with 39 points
Third - Ray with 32 points.
The also rans include Bob on 31, Norbert on 29 and Catherine on 28.
The "wooden spoon" goes to Les on a miserable 9 points.
George Brown Memorial Vintage Run 2015
A warm and overcast day welcomed us to the Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage Old Town in July for our 36th annual George Brown Memorial Vintage Run.
Riders started arriving just after 10.00 am, for an 11.00 am start,
It was nice to see our vice president Brian Young there, Brian had travelled all the way from Newcastle to be with us today. First job of the day was a welcome cup of tea or coffee, chairman Tony and secretary Mick were busy collecting in entries and handing out the relevant route cards and meal tickets.
11.00 am arrives and off we go, they should be going off at minute intervals but the pack all swarm off together, playing follow the leader hoping the one in front knows where the route goes.
The morning route comprises of a 40 mile ride round main roads and country lanes, arriving with a band playing at The Chequers public house at Wrestlingworth for the lunchtime stop, where we were made very welcome by the landlord. After some liquid and solid refreshment off again on a 20 mile ride back to the Cromwell for the judging of awards.
The following were the lucky recipients of the awards.
- Best Vintage Solo - Chris Sawyer / Cotton
- Best Post Vintage Solo - Chris Garner / Triumph
- Best Post War Solo - Melvin Stimson / Matchless
- Best Classic Solo - Peter Webb / Triumph
- Best Modern Classic Solo - Paul Hawkes / Yamaha
- Nearly There Classic Solo - Steve Pykerman / Honda
- Best Motor Cycle and Side Car - Neil Dorrell / Vincent Comet
- Most Desirable Machine - Jeff Banks / Velocette
- Joe Evanson Trophy for best performance by a non club member - Jeff Banks / Velocette
- Terry Ives Trophy for oldest combined age of rider and machine - Brian Young / Norton
- Don Davies Trophy for best Stevenage club member riding his own bike - Gordon Hallett / Adler
- Dave Green Trophy for best performance by a Stevenage club member - Paul Hawkes / Yamaha
- Ian Ashwell Trophy for best entry by a Stevenage club member - Dave Hubbard / Greeves
- George Brown Memorial Trophy for best Vincent or HRD - Tony Brown 1952 Vincent Series C Rapide
Scotland Tour 16 – 21 20 July 2015
After canvassing the club members for a suitable tour location back in November 2014 it was duly elected that Scotland would be the tour of choice. It soon became apparent that only six members would participate and so the planning began.
Accommodation was researched and booked, places of interest were identified and the routes were set.
So after much planning over Pizza and beer nights, destruction of garden decking, changes of ferry crossings, dropping out of members and new group members recruited and checking of weather forecasts the hardy bunch consisting of Jason Holmes (Honda CBR1000), Pete Blackburn (Suzuki GSXR600), Chaz Allbrighton (Honda Pan European 1100), Jon Carter (Honda CBR600) and Roy Brown (Triumph Thunderbird LT) met at Stevenage Bike Stop to begin this years adventure.
Day 1 Thursday
The group set off heading for Carlsisle and hit the A1, stopping off at Squires Café near Leeds (The unofficial Ace of the North) for a much needed mid-morning Bacon Bap, the size of which astounded us all. The journey continued further along the A1 coming off at Scotch Corner to join the A66 and we soon found our route taking us along some decidedly dodgy roads (well tracks) one of which actually ran out at a farm in the middle of the Cumbrian moors.
Managing to find our way back on track we encountered the first of what were some of the best roads to ride. This was the road that led us to Tan Hill Inn (the highest pub in England standing at some 1732ft ASL) for a spot of lunch and several photo opportunities. The ride back to join the main A66 was equally exciting with the dodging of the resident sheep that made no attempt to move out of the way, indeed some with the attitude of a bull decided to challenge us as we rode along their road.
The remainder of the days route was interrupted only by a visit to Appleby Castle which turned to be closed. This seemed to set the scene for a few of the attractions that had been planned for the tour.
Day one concluded at the Premier Inn at Carlisle with a hearty dinner and a pint (or two).
Day 2 Friday
Day two saw the start of the rain for our journey to Oban on the west coast of Scotland. So after an obligatory stop at Gretna for a photo opportunity and a Rob Roy shout of “Freedom” at the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign we ventured again through some fantastic scenery (even though SatNav decided on some very scenic and decidedly dodgy routes, this we discovered was to be the norm) we arrived at Drumlanrig Castle. This was in fact a stately home and happened to be closed when we arrived. The journey continued and as texts had been received from the Ferry company about the inclement weather we made best speed towards Ardrosson in order to catch the boat across to the Isle of Arran.
After negotiating with the very Scottish young lady issuing tickets for the crossing, getting on, off and back on the ferry and enduring the winds that the Firth of Cldye decided to throw at us we found ourselves in Brodick for a spot of lunch just prior to which Pete decided his bike looked cooler on the floor rather than upright. Apparently he didn’t fall off it but merely laid it down whilst negotiating a highly complicated u-turn!!!
The ride across the island again presented us with some great roads and the good folk of Lochranza (our departure point on the far side of the island) must still be hunting for the screaming banshee that was Chaz after riding over humps in the road that can only be likened to the best roller coaster riden on a motorbike, it was on these that Jon earned his wings and was actually seen to be airborne.
An eventful crossing (which was delayed due to bad weather) which saw us sat on our bikes in heavy rain, for the duration to keep them from sliding around was concluded by exiting the boat by a ramp that dropped us into three foot of water before hitting land. We thought Jon was lost at sea as he had disappeared under the waves before surfacing onto the wet and slippery ramp. It was at this point that Jason announced that as we had not refuelled at Ardrosson he needed fuel.. desperately!!
Not a problem, Sat Nav showed a petrol station just 10 miles along our intended route so off we set in the now torrential rain. Tarbert reached we discovered that said Petrol Station had been closed ten years if not more! The next nearest fuel was 10 miles away back in the direction we had just travelled, not a problem for adventurers like us and with a bit of conservative riding, coasting where possible and tucking in behind the fly screen, Jason would be fine. So off we went and found the next fuel stop only for this one to be closed and to brighten our day further Jason also discovered a rear puncture on the trusty CBR (keep this in mind it crops up again later). Swearing over, letting off cartridges into the night air and puncture repaired we headed back to Tarbert to seek shelter and re-assess our situation. Talbert reached (again) we decided what any sensible woman would have done in the first place and ask directions only to be told that a 24hr garage was only 14 miles away. For the mathematically astute you will realise that we have now done 30 miles on a tank filled with only fumes. How on earth we made that 14 miles is beyond any of us but make it we did, managing to squeeze a tad under 200 miles out of a maximum 150 mile range tank.
Tanks replenished, coffee consumed, visors wiped and gloves wrung out we set off on what was later agreed to be one of the best roads we had ever ridden, in the worst weather any of us had experienced on a bike, to our final stop of the day in Oban arriving about 10:30pm and in the bar for 11:00. This was after Jon discovered that he had collected most of the water from the Kilbrannan Sound (The stretch of water between Arran and the mainland) in his boots, gloves and clothes.
To round off the day we treated ourselves to the traditional dish of Scotland the ‘McKebab’, it being the only eating establishment open at that time of night.
Day 3 Saturday
Day three saw us all re-vigoured after a hearty bowl of Porridge and a ‘Full Scottish’ if still a little damp from the previous days riding.
Although still raining we weren’t deterred and set off for our next planned hotel stop in Pitlochry in the highlands. This took us through Fort William and past Ben Nevis to Spean Bridge where we took time out in the pouring rain to visit the Commando Memorial where Pete demonstrated his photographic skills by capturing the hardy bunch but not the memorial!
Our next stop found us in Fort Augustus at the south west end of Loch Ness where we sampled our first taste of deep fried Haggis. Ever onward we commenced the 30 trip alongside Loch Ness stopping at various spots along its route for photographic opportunities and ever hopeful of capturing the beast on camera, alas this was not to be so had to settle for the buying of soft Nessie toys for our nearest and dearest. We soon found ourselves passing through Inverness, then Aviemore where we again whet our whistles and refuelled before making the final push along the fantastic road that is the A9 which took us directly into Pitlochry. Fantastic in that it was an almost deserted road which begged to be ridden at speed but was marred by the dreaded Average Speed Camera which kept us at a steady 60 for the near 90 remaining miles!!!
Pitlochry reached we again untrussed the mountain of gear that we had brought (other than Jon who had managed to pack a weeks’ worth of gear into a small handbag), and was warmly welcomed at the Fishers Hotel with a wee dram to warm our cockles and to take the sting out of the backsides of those riding sports bikes. From there it was the now customary meet at the bar followed by a recommended curry house at which we ate like lords.
Day 4 Sunday
Day four was to be one of our longest legs to get us to Kendal in the Lake District with a planned stop at Falkirk to see the Falkirk wheel. This feat of engineering joins the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal raising boats 25 meters on a rotating lift that works on the Archimedes principle and taking no more power than found in a domestic hairdryer to start the wheel in motion (that should satisfy the Engineer types and geeks amongst you and if you don’t know what the Archimedes Principle is, ask any of the group who will happily bore you with an explanation and video footage of the wheel in motion).
It was from here the adventure took a new twist with Pete suffering an electrical problem on the M74 which caused his bike to cut out and fail to start. So with three of the group heading off into the distance Pete and Roy pulled onto the hard shoulder to identify the problem. The usual suspects of fuses, relays and connections checked it was decided that the only option was to get the bike recovered off the motorway only for Pete to discover that after a recent renewal of his policy the insurer had no records of him having the recovery option. After many phone calls and wearing a groove into the grass at the side of the motorway we were approached by a couple of shady looking characters walking towards us who had pulled in ahead of us with a van towing a caravan. With visions of being asked kindly to hand over the keys to our bikes it was time to make ourselves look three times bigger than we were and the attitude of ‘You aint taking my Triumph without a fight’ when we were met by two of the nicest guys you could imagine who just happened to be on their way to Caddington Park for a track day and had a van full of bikes, spares and a race engineer! A quick Heath Robinson fix at the side of the road and we were able to join the rest of the group at the next services where a more permanent fix could be effected. It was decided that the Rectifier had packed up and there was no charge being put into the battery. The solution was to swap the battery every 60+ miles with the trusty CBR (told you it would crop up again).
Repairs carried out we continued to Kendal, stopping frequently to swap batteries and encountering a friendly Highways Agency Patrol at one such stop who informed us ‘You can’t break down here, your still on the Motorway’. We smiled politely of course!
Killington Services at Kendal our final resting place for the trip finally reached, we were pleasantly surprised to find what was thought to be a basic and tacky ‘Days Inn’ had the best views of any of the hotels so far, having views over Killington Reservoir and swallows nesting in the eaves right outside the window.
It was on reaching Killington that we made a collective decision. We had been riding with a repaired tyre for several hundred miles, an ailing bike and Chaz had certainly had enough of the saddle for one trip with an injured leg and had elected to have a ‘Rest Day’ on day five while the rest of the group toured the lakes as planned. The decision was made, we came as a group and would continue as a group, we would have just one night here and make our way home the next day agreeing that we had all enjoyed the trip and didn’t want to push our luck.
It was agreed that as we in the Lake District it would rude to pass up the opportunity to ride to at least part of Lake Windermere, so another fuel stop and off we set on a magical mystery tour that did eventually get us to the northern tip of the Lake where we took in the views and yet more coffee before setting off on the route home…or so we thought. We actually managed to see Lake Coniston and the same village more than once before we established the road that would lead us out of the Lake District.
From here on in it was to be a long slog home stopping only for fuel and to swap batteries when needed. Unfortunately what for Chaz was to be a rest day turned into a 350+ mile ride home. Admittedly some major hold ups on the M6 had some influence on us finding alternate routes which however eventually put us back onto the familiar A1 where we made best speed home (traffic and national speed limits obviously being observed at all times).
In summary we all had a great time, we saw and rode on some great roads, we covered over 1300 miles and we all learned something;
Jason – You can get 200 miles out of a 150 mile tank
Pete – Don’t take a Suzuki on tour
Chaz – Counter steering works
Jon – Everything leaks like a sieve but the baccy stays dry
Roy – The Thunderbird footplates do scrape the ground, even in the wet
Would we do it again…Hell Yes, maybe just somewhere sunny next time so I don’t have to spend all day washing and polishing ½ a tonne of engine, paint, chrome and whitewall tyres.
Thanks Guys, I had a blast
Have a look at the photos from the trip in the GALLERY.