The 63rd Banbury Run 2011
(Click the photo to see a larger picture in a slide show.)

This year only Terry H and I had entered from our section - Terry on his 1921 Barr & Stroud engined Beardmore Precision and myself with the clubs 1923 P&M outfit.

Jean had decided that the P&M sidecar was not at all to her liking as it was a bit like sitting in a jelly and rolled a touch too much, so Stewart B was press-ganged into providing the ballast.

Terry and Dilys arrived at Gaydon Heritage Motor Museum, the base for the event, on the Saturday with their Motor Home, whilst Stewart and I arranged to leave home at 6am on Sunday with the hope of getting to Gaydon by 08.30am.

The P&M was all ready and loaded onto the trailer on the Saturday. Sunday dawned a touch cloudy - but dry as I set off to collect Stewart. On the way we solved all the worlds problems and I also recounted the confrontations that I'd had in previous years with the marshalls whilst trying to gain entrance to the Gaydon museum site.

In 2009 Jean and I were stopped no less than 5 times by marshalls and instructed on where we had to go and park, as if the first one hadn't got it right. They did that to everyone who entered the Gaydon site and it was no wonder that there was a chaotic queue out along the main road.

In 2010 that had improved a bit and I was instructed to go and park in the non-competitive car park. This was despite the fact that I was the President of the club that year and had some official duties to perform. "Park at the rear of the Museum with all the officials vehicles" I was told by the club's CEO a few weeks prior to the event. But there I was - VIP sticker in the windscreen - with a real 'Jobsworth' refusing me entry. "I Hope things will be better this year" I said to Stewart.

As planned, we entered the Gaydon site to be told that the bottom car park was full and that we had to park in the top car park. I enquired about disabled parking and was directed to it - this was to save Stewart a bit of a walk. The yellow-jacketed marshall said to park alongside the fence so that I could unload the P&M and as instructed that's just what we did. Then an orange-jacketed 'jobsworth' appeared - "Move your car and trailer over to the other car park, you can't park here" he said. "But I've a registered disabled friend with me and we were told to park here" I said, as I untied the bike. "That doesn't matter" I was told. The arguement went on for some minutes as I remonstrated that we were legitimately disabled, blue badge and all, and had parked properly, as instructed, in the disabled parking area etc, etc. The outcome was that the 'jobsworth' was as entrenched in his opinion as I was and he stormed off in a huff after saying that he'd have me removed from the site. What a great start to the day!!

Stewart and I took the outfit down to the paddock area and parked it on our designated spot - we were riding number 190 and Terry had already placed his Beardmore on his number 145. Sign on; stick riding number to the outfit; route in the roller route and generally try and get ourselves ready. Whilst chatting to friends etc a couple of black clouds passed overhead, but thankfully they came to nothing. The only South Wales member that I saw there was Ken Baxter and it was nice to see him.

Stewart and I were due to start at 10.37 and it wasn't long before we were pushing the P&M outfit in the queue for the off. Engines were only to be started after reaching the start line and not before, luckily the P&M started up quite easily. Five bikes at a time were set off at one minute intervals - think about that? 600 riders, 5 every minute - that's two hours just to set them all off. The P&M was scheduled in with 3 solos and a Morgan threewheeler and it was a bit of a squash on the line, but soon we were on our way.

Out into the Warwickshire countryside. Blue sky and a few puffy clouds - things looked good. The P&M was running fine, clutches working nice and smoothly, oil being delivered via the sight glass - all was well with the world. Stewart and I did laugh quite a bit as on every righthander the sidecar body leaned out and the mudguard rubbed on the sidecar wheel tyre, giving off a high pitched screeching sound. Stewart soon developed a technique of grabbing hold of the rear carrier of the bike and holding the sidecar body off the tyre as we rounded right handed corners - seemed to work quite well. I reckon he'd be good on a racing outfit.
Some miles on we clocked in and out of the first time check as I watched the roadside for spectators. Why? well, I knew that Angela Martin was there spectating somewhere and she had indicated in an email the week before that she'd like to see the P&M on the road. It was Angela's father Angus, who in 1950 bought the P&M and had kept it in it's 'as found' condition. Angela and her mother had kindly loaned the P&M to the VMCC as they wanted it to be used and seen and I was it's first custodian. I spotted a lady with a camera on the next road junction after the time check and pulled over. It was Angela and it was a pleasure to say 'hello' for the first time. It would have been nice to have had a longer chat but we had a time schedule to keep up - so, a couple of quick pictures and Stewart and I were off again on route.

Later on the route, Sunrising hill was taken with ease by the P&M and just as well really as there is always a big crowd watching the bikes as many don't make it. We were down into 1st at one point, but showed off by changing up into second as we got near the top. Soon we were back at the finish and after clocking in I pushed the outfit back to it's spot in the paddock. Terry was already back and he said that he'd had a good ride. Stewart and I signed off and collected a mug then set off back to the car to find our sandwiches and unwind a bit.

It was around 2pm so Stewart and I decided to frequent the autojumble. As I looked around I became more and more despondent about my hobby due to the pure greed on open show from most of the vendors. Prices were astronomical. At one point a nice late 20's Norton and sidecar caught the eye of Stewart and he stopped to chat to the seller.

At that point Terry arrived and, leaving Stewart to his negotiating, we set off to the other side of the jumble area as Terry had seen two BSA Dandys for sale as a 'bogof' deal. I'm rebuilding one of those and it was quite easy not to consider a further purchase, as I have probably, enough bits to build a second one anyway. I ask you what do I want another two decrepit Dandys for - Jean would have had me sectioned if I'd come home with them. But - how about the Brough on show at the Bonhams coffee tent:

Advertised as good for 106mph in second gear and with a value of 240,000 to 280,000. I suppose that there are people who would pay that sort of money - I ask you, what price a 1928 Brough Superior?

There was no sign of Stewart catching us up so Terry and I decided to go and retrieve our bikes from the paddock area. Blow me down, there on the P&M was a rosette. The bike had won something. Anyway, I took the bike back to the car and loaded it onto the trailer before setting off for the conference room and the award presentation.

Terry was already there and it wasn't long before Ian Young started announcing the award winners. Terry had won a gold award and the big surprise was that he also had the Best Vintage award for Timekeeping - that really is something at the Banbury, I can tell you. Meanwhile the P&M had won the Best Original condition machine. I must say that we both felt pretty chuffed as we left the meeting and headed back to our respective cars. Didn't the South Wales Section do well? It must be said that Stewart baulked at the 18.5k price tag on the Norton and didn't buy it.

Next year, it'll probably be the 1908 Triumph for me and a Beardmore for Terry - I shall look forward to it and hopefully not suffer any more problems with over officious marshalls, but I'm not holding my breath.