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Mallory Park

Sunbeams in the Rain

On Sunday, I'd volunteered to marshal for the Sunbeam Motorcycle Club's Garden of England rally, starting and finishing at Headcorn Aerodrome by way of many a pretty little back road.

I'd managed to miss the part of the emailed instructions that said 'meet at 9' until, er, having a final check at 8:45. I tore off to Headcorn, an hour's ride away, to find nothing whatsoever happening. This is fairly typical of bike events.

There were eight marshals, most of whom had attended in previous years and knew the route. We were given a laminated copy of the route map and assigned our junctions as a Mustang took off, probably Fairford-bound.

I found myself posted to Grovehurst, little more than a collection of houses a mile outside Horsmonden, and set off on A roads to find it.

It wasn't easy, and I panicked about finding the right place and making it there ahead of the rally participants even though they would be travelling at <20mph. I installed myself soon after half past eleven, resplendent in hi-viz vest, and waited.

It was almost noon, and I was starting to worry, when I heard the first stutter and sputter of a very old motorcycle climbing a hill. A dozen riders came through in dribs and drabs, holding out their left arms to signal the turn, then the sweeper arrived to say that was the lot and see you at the pub.

I'd been marking the long route, and most participants had taken the short route. After a ploughman's lunch at a nice pub near Staplehurst, we were all off again.

There was only one route in the afternoon, and we marshals dispersed along it to find helpful places to mark (there were signs, but it helps very much to have a human in hi-viz sticking their arm out too).

When I almost missed a junction, I decided it would be a good place to position myself (admittedly I was going somewhat faster than the participants). Soon the leaders came into view, then the pack, then the rearguard, most of them waving as they passed me and many calling a greeting.

Simon, the chief marshal, came by to tell me that there were two bikes left plus the recovery vehicle, and to give them five minutes if I liked.

So I waited for the stragglers, giving them a special extra-cheerful wave, then set off for Headcorn, overtaking the bikes and recovery vehicle round the next corner.

Back at base we admired the bikes and enjoyed coffee and home-made cake before dispersal. For my help, I was given a sort of commemorative horse-brass thing which I shall have to mount on my scooter somehow.

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Comments

some seriously ancient motorised cycles there... ;)
Aren't they lovely? I think it was all pre-1931, and I saw one with '1913' on the side.
Fascinating, in a "missing link" sort of way. Somehow, calling them "motorcycles" didn't quite fit. ;)
Neat pics - any Mieles there? I'd love to see an old 80 cc Miele still running. XD

I love old bikes, always wanted one.

I have to get my little '82 Honda running, but certain people (looks at husband over monitor) disapprove of me getting my M class license.
I didn't spot any, but I'm no great expert. Most of the entrants were British, though: Raleigh, Douglas, Velocette etc.

I'd love a classic bike, but I'm not mechanically minded enough to have one without shelling out loads of money every time it broke down.