VMCC Manx Rally of 2010
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suppose that it
all started for
Jean and I earlier when I heard that a good friend of mine from the
USA, Stacey, was going to be able to make it over for a visit to the
Isle of Man with us. During November last year I wrote and told him
that I was going to make him 'green with envy' as I was going to the
Island in my capacity as club President, for the Manx Rally. All his
life he'd wanted to make the pilgrimage, so this time he became
determined to make the effort. Stacey landed in Brussels on Monday 16th
August and stayed with Pierre for the week before we collected him at
the end of the OKP weekend. Soon we were all at home and sorting out
our things for leaving on the Wednesday.
I had arranged a B&B for the Wednesday night near the
Heysham ferry as I didn't want to risk missing our booked Thursday
sailing due to traffic holdups on the way. I had a few things to
arrange - extra room for Stacey at the B&B that we used near
the Heysham ferry, extra passenger and seat on the ferry. All an easy
job, I must say. Now, as I'd been told for years, 'If you haven't got
your digs booked the previous year, then don't bother'. That's not
true, of course, but has been one of the major reasons for me not
making the effort to go in the past.
This time arrangements were made by one of our fellow section members
for Jean and I to stay at the same place as him - what could I sort out
for Stacey with only two days to go? Briefly, I rang Shirley, our
landlady and asked if she had a neighbour who could put Stacey up.
Miracles happened and Shirley sorted out another bed for Stacey to be
able to stay with us all. So we were all set.
25th - I'd
decided that we were not going to use the M5/M6 with all it's problems
and that we'd travel up through Wales and meet the M6 at Manchester.
Might take a bit longer but it would be a much more pleasant drive. We
set off up over the Beacons and at Builth Wells I took the
A470 and headed to Snowdonia - just wanted to show Stacey part of our
reached our B&B and settled for the night. The following
morning dawned dry and bright as we set off for the ferry. The crossing
was very calm and we were soon on the front at Douglas. I don't know
why, but the stop/start queue along the promenade was worse than those
found on the M6. By the time we found our road up and out of Douglas
the circuit had been closed and we were stuck on the wrong side.
'You'll have to use the Access road' a marshall told me. 'What's that?'
was my reply. After getting instructions from several locals we found
it. Basically it went under Bradden bridge using the old railway line.
We found our digs and were soon settled in. Shirley and Jimmy were our
hosts and two nicer people you couldn't wish to meet.
27th - We were to be tourists today. We spent the
Electric railway, built in 1897, if I remember correctly. It took half
an hour to get from Douglas to Laxey, where, after a coffee, we took
the mountain railway up to the top of Snaefell. It's one of those
mountains where clouds can very quickly hide any view - but not when we
were there, thank goodness. Gotta include some of
our 'holiday' pics, haven't I?
Friday evening after our excursions we decided to watch the practice
and went up to the Creg-ny-baa hotel, where we sat in the famous cage
to watch the bikes come down from Kates Cottage. We followed that with
an excellent meal in the hotel and when we returned to Jim and
Shirley's, Doug had arrived.
Saturday the 28th - Glyn plus Terry and Dilys were
due to arrive today. They were staying in a cottage up near Ramsey, so
time they were settled in, Terry had missed the first of the VMCC runs.
However, this was the first of the VMCC events for
Jean and I with
Indian. After picking up fuel we headed for Laxey old harbour along the
coast road. There was one hell of a steep hill to get down to the
harbour where we found most of the 200 odd entrants and many more
spectators modern machines. I was surprised to meet Peter Benger there
- he was just a spectator and over for the racing. Peter was our
section secretary from 1972 for four years before work took him off to
live near Andover. Anyway, the run was around 70 odd miles and
terminated in Port Erin, so after signing on we set off and enjoyed the
route very much as it wound it's way along the coast. Arriving at Port
Erin, and after a coffee, the event dispersed. My problem was that I
had no idea where we were as I was not familiar with the Island at all.
I stopped a lady who was walking along the front and had a map in her
hand - 'May I have a look at the map please', I asked. 'Of course' she
said, and added 'you may keep it'. As soon as I saw where we were I was
able to orientate myself and we set off back to Douglas. A good day,
the bike ran well, and the weather was glorious. What a shame that I
didn't take my camera. Whilst we were out on the bike, Stacey walked
down to the grandstand and took the following few pictures.
29th - was the day of the Jurby festival. I hadn't entered
Indian for this one as I just didn't fancy riding around the track and
being buzzed by all the other bikes - so, we were spectators for the
day and were able to take Stacey along with us. Doug had arrived on
Friday so he was also a passenger in the car. Entrance to the circuit
was free and already there were hundreds of motorcycles lined up on
site, all bathed in glorious sunshine. It all was quiet some spectacle
and only in it's second year.
30th - I needed to be at Quarterbridge by midday to have
the bike and
documents and clothing checked prior to the closed roads parade at the
end of the
days racing. After completing all the formalities I returned to our
digs and then went back nearer the start time. There were over 200
machines signed on to ride the 'closed roads parade'. It was emphasised
time and time again that it was a parade and not a race. We were to set
off in batches led by a travelling marshal who would not exceed 60mph.
We were instructed that we were not to pass the marshal under any
circumstances. I really had to push my way out on to the track and set
off for Bradden Bridge as fast as I felt the Indian could manage -
probably a max of 40mph. Everyone was soon gone and I was on my own and
the very last rider.
Somehow I just couldn't get myself to use the whole of the road so kept
to the left on instinct. I had waves and clapping from all the marshals
and spectators that I passed. We had been let loose from Quarterbridge
at 16.25 and I knew that the roads opening car would leave the
grandstand at 16.30. He would be doing 90 and there was me hoping to
get around the whole 37 mile lap at 40mph before he caught me. No such
luck, I'm afraid, I was passed at the 13th milestone, just before
Kirkmichael. Hey, ho, I now had to obey the ordinary road regulations.
I went and on entering Ramsey after 23 miles in 40 minutes was stopped
at Parliament Square along with many others also on the parade lap.
There had been an accident going up the mountain and we were all fed
off along the coast road to return to Douglas - just a little bit
deflating, I must say. Our lap had been spoiled by someone coming off -
I did hope that he was ok, of course.
Subsequently I learned
that there were three people injured. Noriyuki Kato from Japan riding a
Gold Star had managed to miss the right angle turn on Sulby Bridge and
had managed to go straight on through a fence and hedge. He was ok but
had scratches to his face that required stiches, and a badly dented
pride. Nori is a really
nice guy and I'd spoken to him twice before the parade - someone said
that it had cost him £2500 just to fly his bike over for the event. The
accident at Ramsey happened on the right hand bend at the bottom of May
Hill, several hundred yards before the famous left hand Ramsey hairpin.
The rider concerned had thought that he was at the left hander hairpin
and not on the right hander May Hill bend - sounds a bit of a feeble
reason to me if he wasn't exceeding 60mph. Anyway, he suffered a broken
collarbone and fractured pelvis whilst his bike bounced off the wall
protection back into the roadway and took another rider off. Just a
bruised toe was his result.
That evening we were to attend a BBQ at Tony East's house in
Kirkmichael and when we arrived, there was the Crosby Brass Band
playing. As we queued for the food I chatted with Sammy Miller who was
quite talkative, I must say. Meanwhile the band played 'the
Rose' - a lovely piece of music, in case you haven't heard it do try
and find it to listen to. After eating and having a quick look around
Tony's collection of bikes, Jean and I were invited to go for a drink
and then to head back to David Plant's house for a coffee. Both Tony
and David have motorcycle collections that are in excess of 90 machines
each. However, Tony collects the classics while David has many veterans
and a much larger spread of bike ages.
31st August - We were to be in Port Erin to sign
on for a 60 mile social ride.
The start was at 11am. Then we had to do 60 miles ending in Castletown
Square for the
'gathering' and we were asked not to be there before 5pm. Ok, you work
it out - 60 miles in 6 hours. So, Terry and Dilys, along with Jean and
myself decided to do our own thing and we set off for Cregneash. It's a
living folk museum village with many of the houses restored to the
condition that they were in back in the 1800's. All designed to show
what Manx life was like back then. We spent quite some time looking
around and I did find it most interesting. No camera again, I'm afraid.
From Cregneash we headed to Port St Mary where I had one of the most
fantastic custard slices with a coffee. Then we set off for Castletown.
With the instructions not to get there before 5pm it was obvious that
we were going to be early - but like all these things, if it said don't
get there before 5pm, you can bet your
bottom dollar that means that if you arrive after 5pm, you won't get
in. Sure enough, we arrived at 4.15 and the square was full, however
Terry and I did manage to park our bikes ok. The weather was lovely
and at 5 on the dot a trad jazz band struck up. It was magic, with the
only problem being nowhere to sit down.
back at the ranch - Jimmy, who was a taxi driver on weekends, offered
to take Stacey around the TT course and show him some of the sights.
Doug joined them in the car for the trip, so the following four are
taken by Stacey's camera - thanks mate.
1st Sept - glorious weather yet again with no VMCC ride
today. The Junior Manx race was on this morning with the Classic during
the afternoon. I decided to volunteer to marshal with Doug and Jimmy so
signed on by 9am and was in post at the bottom of Bray hill by the time
the roads were closed at
9.30. Racing got underway at 10.15 and it was quite something seeing
the bikes come down Bray hill and up over Ago's leap. I reckon they
must have been heading for 200mph as they passed me. Not long after the
leaders came through on their third lap the race was red flagged.
There'd been an accident out on
the course. It transpired that two riders had been killed at Alpine
which is just the other side of Kirkmichael.
was quite some delay
before we were told that the afternoon classic race was
postponed to the following day, so we finished early, more's
the pity, as I
did want to see and hear the Manx Nortons and Matchless G50's
thundering past at the bottom of Bray Hill. Stacey had spent the
morning watching the Junior MGP
from the grandstand and he managed to get a few photos, two of
which are here.
Thursday 2nd Sept - Wall to wall sunshine as Jean and I
set off on the Indian for Ramsey and the start of the time trial. We
were issued with transponders and were soon off, out through Ramsey and
along the coast. I'm quite sure that the re-arranged Classic race
interferred with the route that we should have been on, however, Tony
and his team had a back-up plan. I had no idea as to our time schedule
and believed that we would be on 24mph average - anyway, what the heck,
getting around in one piece was the important thing. At one point I
missed a turning and headed on down the road to the next one that I
thought was right, only to be redirected by the time check
officials. Back in Mooragh Park, Ramsey I could hear the Classic race
under way. We parked the Indian, ate our packed lunch and then went
over to watch the Ramsey Sprint on the promenade. That was very
interesting, with even two Bantams having a go.
Stacey was in the Grandstand back in Douglas watching the classic race
- and using his camera, of course.
The Evening happening was the Gala Dinner in the Villa Marina on
Douglas promenade. We cleaned ourselves up and Stacey, Jean and I
headed for the seafront. I had managed to get Stacey a ticket
earlier in the week as there were one or two spare. Jean and I were sat
on the table with the dignataries and found the meal to be an excellent
one. In no time at all we were into the speeches - mine was short,
compared with Nick Jeffries, Sammy Miller and the Islands Minister for
tourism. Then came the prize giving and Sammy and Nick did the honours
whilst the IOM Section Chairman took the role of MC. They eventually
came to the award for Best Vintage in the time trial and announced that
we'd won it with the Indian. Seems our average was 20mph and we'd
managed 20.95mph - I was astounded, I must say. What a super way to end
a very pleasant evening.
- The VMCC Manx Rally had ended with the Gala dinner so I headed to the
bottom of Bray Hill with Doug and Jimmy to do some marshaling, whilst
Jean and Shirley headed for the shops. The two races of the
were the lightweights in the morning and the Senior in the afternoon -
all went off without a hitch, I'm pleased to say. Another great day
with glorious sunshine.
That evening we took Shirley and Jimmy out for a meal to the 'Cat with
- Doug needed to be at the ferry for 06.30am so I rose early to give
a lift as he was a foot passenger. That done, Stacey, Jean and I became
tourists again. The weather had turned a bit and it was a touch
drizzly. I'd arranged with David Plant to take Stacey to see his
collection of bikes and a leisurely drive saw us there at around 11am.
picture above, I
knew this bike when Percy Evans used to sprint it - he lived in
Chepstow and I provided him with a twin-float chamber carb for it way
back in the 60's. I was amazed to see it in David's collection as it
must be 45 years or so since I last heard of it.
We must have spent at least a couple of hours looking at the bikes. I
was interested in one in particular - a1903 Terrot that was fitted with
a Givaudan engine. David had helped me with my Givaudan in the past as
I needed information regarding the Longuemare carb - all another story.
Anyway, it was nice to see the Terrot, in the flesh, so to speak.
From David Plants we headed down the West coast and stopped at a place
called Jurby Junk. Gee, what a shop, stacked to the roof with end of
line products and other second hand things. It was a large building
with one half being dedicated to books only. A short walk and we were
able to visit a small transport museum. Mostly containing buses, but
there was a brighton run eligible Turner-Meiss steam car. Stacey got
talking to the owner who had recently purchased a doble steam car
engine from someone who lived not far from Stacey in the US - small
world, isn't it..
From here we set off to Tony East's place in Kirkmicahel to have a look
at his collection of machines - all beautifully restored - I've never
seen a set of 1937 Triumph Tigers before - T70, T80 and T90.
After leaving Tony's collection we headed for Peel and a bite to eat on
the sea front before heading back to our digs.
5th September - This was our last day and Stacey, Jean and
I decided to take a ride on the Island's preserved steam train from
Douglas to Port Erin. One hour there and one hour back. Here's the last
of our tourist photos: -
Back to Jim and Shirleys and we loaded the Indian on the trailer and
prepared for our ferry the following day. There was a bad weather
forecast for the following day and one neighbour told me that the
sailings to Liverpool and Northern Ireland were cancelled, but that the
boat to Heysham should be running. The following day we headed for the
ferry and there was a queue of bikes and cars that had not
gone on the earlier sailing to Liverpool, so our boat was sure full
when we left. Jimmy said that we should be alright as the Ben-my-chree,
the name of the Heysham ferry, had a 99% reliability. The crossing was
a bit rough to begin with and we made Heysham about half an hour late.
Soon though, we were on the road and heading home, down through Mid
Wales, of course.
Since all this, Stacey has made a safe return to the USA and taken many
memories with him as well. We sure won't forget our visit to the 'Road
Race Capital of the World'.