The Isle of Wight Scurry 2011
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The whole of the Scurry event is defined by the sponsorship that the VMCC's IOW section get from the Wightlink Ferry company and this year the company decided to restrict the free ferry crossings to Friday out and Monday back which caused quite a bit of re-organising of the event. Terry and Dilys with their 1931 Ariel and Jean and I with our 1925 Indian had entered and booked for ferries around the midday on the Friday. The weather was threatening to be pretty awful for the drive to Lymington but as it happened we seemed to be running before the storm and made it all the way to the venue in the dry.

The event was based at the Whitecliffe Bay Holiday Park with Terry and Dilys staying in their motor home whilst Jean and I had booked a chalet, as we had done in the past. Things didn't get off to a good start as we arrived at 3.15pm to be met with a proper 'jobsworth' welcome. "You can't have the key until 4pm", we were told. I remonstrated that we'd been on the road since 9am and that our paperwork stated that the site was open from 2pm - didn't work, I'm afraid, so we headed for the bar and a much needed coffee.

There was the option of a buffet on site that evening but having had a really poor and overpriced one in the past we opted for the local pub and a proper feed, which was excellent. We then joined the meeting back on site, signed on and talked the night away with quite a few old friends.

Saturday dawned and we had the option of a long or short route for the morning before ending up in St Thomas's square in the centre of Newport where the bikes would be displayed for a few hours. The local newspaper 'The County Press' was to be in attendance and I was to look after the local dignitary and help with the selection of - well, I must say that I wasn't sure - but it was not for concours and more for 'The bike I liked the most'. Back at the start and the weather was not looking too good as we all assembled:


The rain started as we left the site and set off for Shanklin and then Sandown. There was the option of taking a shorter route to Newport from Sandown but I never saw the signpost, not that we were looking for it, honest. Within 5 minutes of leaving the start my sooper-dooper new RST riding suite decided to let the water in with consumate ease and by the time we had reached Sandown I was soaked from the waist down - ughh. We continued along the coast road with all it's marvellous views that we couldn't see due to the low cloud and miserable weather. On reaching Niton we turned inland and headed north towards Newport. We were met with some heavy traffic from the outskirts of Newport and eventually managed to get into the centre and St Thomas's square. First need, was an over-priced coffee, accompanied by a tasteless bacon butty. Things had to improve, I thought, as I sat there in a suit full of water - but it was warming up, I must say. Next thing was that I had to find the 'local dignitary' and select one of the bikes to receive 'The County Press Trophy'.


As it happened the dignitary didn't turn up so the job was down to me and as no one offered me a bribe I selected the 1926 Ivy, which was a very nice bike. By now the sun was out and in no time at all I was nodding off in the sunshine on one of the benches in the square.

One of the local traffic police turned up and had a real go at the marshall who was directing us into the square. He maintained that we were all crossing a pedestrian only area and shouldn't have been there at all. The marshall quoted chapter and verse on our permissions to hold the display and the Policeman went off to check. Not much later, the Policeman returned and said that it had been confirmed. He then asked what the organising club was and when told that it was the Isle of Wight Section of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club he said "I'm going to join". Now that's something for you.

At 2pm the bikes started to move off, so Terry and I started our machines and we set off into Newport's Town Centre traffic. We'd gone a mile or so and then I realised that I had left my camera beside the bench in the square. Jean was unceremoniously dropped off in a layby as I turned the Indian round and headed back into town. The camera, of course, was gone. Not a good day, I thought, as I headed for the local police station to report the loss. Back at the layby I collected Jeannie and we set off towards Sandown airport and the arranged visit to 'Airframe Assemblies'.
As we arrived, there was Terry holding my camera bag - if he was only a bit prettier I'd have given him a kiss. Seems that a member of the public picked the camera up and handed it to one of the riders, who passed it on to the event organiser and hence on to Terry. Being a Canon SLR 300D it wasn't a cheap purchase when new and I was pleased to be re-united with it - and darned lucky as well.

Airframe Assemblies are specialists in re-building WWII Spitfires and had several in house that were being worked on. I hate to think of the cost of each one as it was very much a case of 'conserve' rather than make new - talk about 'boys and their toys'.

Back at our chalet it was a case of getting out of the wet but warm suit and hang it all up in the hope that it would dry by morning. We ate in the main site bar that evening with the food being more than acceptable, after which we joined the other entrants in the main meeting room. A quiz was laid on but I must say that it was not at all satisfactory. Four boards with pictures pasted on them for identification. The problem was that after an hour, not one board had arrived at our table and they seemed to 'stick' when on a table until everyone was fed up with looking at the pictures. Terry and Dilys were the first to leave, as Terry wanted to get to bed as he planned to get up at 4.30am to watch Wales play Samoa. Jean and I soon followed.

Sunday morning dawned and the day of the Scurry looked a bit better weatherwise. The clothes had dried overnight, thank goodness, and I decided not to take the camera - well, you can guess why. There were quite a few more bikes at the assembly point and at 10am we all set off. We found ourselves in the middle of a large gaggle of machines that were all jockeying for position. To make matters worse there was a cycling event on the Island and the road was pretty crowded with cyclists of all shapes and sizes wobbling all over the place. However, the icing on the cake, if that's what it was, threw a double decker bus into the mix along with a few cars. I stopped and let the whole convoy go as it wasn't easy trying to keep the Indian on the move with a foot clutch and left hand throttle.

We crossed the main road in Brading and were soon out into the country on a very narrow road. Things stayed like that for most of the morning and I was sure that our route had been given to the cyclists as well. No sooner had they been directed away from our road than our route rejoined theirs again just a bit further on. We just couldn't shake them off all morning and it was made doubly difficult when following an outfit as they couldn't get past the slow moving cyclists. I did think at one point of changing the cycle route signs around so as to send them off somewhere else. After two and a half hours of bumping along on very narrow roads with lousy surfaces I was completely fed up - and we'd only covered 35 miles. Then came the oasis in the desert as we came across Fran and Harry Wiles having a coffee outside the Sun Inn in Calbourne. It was no contest, we stopped as well. The sun was shining a touch and things started to look a bit better with the world. The remaining 12 miles or so were a little easier and I think that we were just about last as we rode into the lunch stop at the East Cowes Community Centre. Terry and Dilys had been there for quite some time as they had got lost earlier and so had headed straight for lunch - very sensible, I thought.

The lunch was a ploughmans and was quite satisfying as long as you wanted ham, ham or ham. Outside, and the bikes were beginning to move off and there were also a few drops of the wet stuff falling, so we soon got moving. The route back was supposed to be easier - at least it was shorter, so that was a plus. Firstly we made our way to the chain ferry that operates between East and West Cowes and after crossing the river Medway we were soon on our way towards Ryde via the back roads. Then the heavens decided to open and dump bucket loads of water on us. We tried to shelter under a tree and as I stood there with the rain bouncing off the road and my RST motorcycle trousers starting to soak up the water, things started to look bleaker and so we decided to carry on and as soon as we could, head straight back to the finish. We were travelling along the seafront at one point where we lost Terry as the Ariel motor decided to just cut out. I must say that I didn't notice that he wasn't behind us as I was concentrating on seeing through the horizontal rain, avoiding the puddles and dodging the traffic calming islands that made the road more like a slalom course.

Back at base and it was a case of yet again get the wet togs off and get into a hot bath. No sooner had we got indoors and the heavens opened again - it sure did pour down. In between the downpours I managed to get the bike loaded onto the trailer and ready for the following mornings drive home. Later that evening we met Terry and Dilys in the main room used for the event and Terry recounted the troubles that had stopped the Ariel. Seems that a change of spark plug was all that was needed, thank goodness.

The evening rounded off with a super buffet, which we had booked into this time. Awards were made, thanks made etc, and the event was closed. I suppose that it was a memorable weekend for all the wrong reasons. Who can control the weather, other road users, bloody cyclists and the 4.75 price of bacon butties. Not forgetting the Isle of Wight Councils plan of leaving the roads in a poor state so as to act as a traffic calming measure. We did have a good time though, really we did - and I'll go back, for sure.

BP