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Nifty Fifty cc Riders' Rally

Dave Gates

By mid-morning on Sunday, May 24th, a dozen stalwart enthusiasts had gathered amongst the buttercups of Mary's Meadow at Bush Farm, Acryse, in Kent, for this, the first Nifty Fifty cc Riders' Rally.  Some riders were more stalwart than most, notably Colin Packman who chose to travel to Folkestone by rail, then cycle the five miles to the rally site before setting out on the run astride a Cyclemaster powered GPO delivery bike!  Of such stuff are heroes made!

The assembled entourage that eventually whined, clattered chuffed ir hummed its way into the lanes was as follows:

Maurice Wellard Vincent Firefly
Tim Bunting VéloSoleX
Nick Devonport Motoconfort X7
Ian Williams Victoria Vicky IV
Susan Williams NVT Easy Rider
Colin Packman Cyclemaster
Rob Gill Raleigh Runabout
William Gill Francis Barnett Falcon 87
Ron Tuck Simson S51 Enduro
Don Cannon MZ TS125 Alpine
Paul Smith and Leslie 1932 Sun tandem

... in addition to myself on a Piaggio Typhoon scooter, leading the pack to act as pathfinder.

Although the bright sunshine of previous days was absent, the weather was kind (ie: no torrential rain or snow!)  A route map was provided, but it was a case of "follow the bike in front", the pace being kept to a civilised 20mph.  At this velocity, the real beauty of the traffic-free lanes could be appreciated.

Our puttering, buzzing column of machinery passed between verdant hedgerows scented with wild garlic, or hummed beneath arches of trees that hung over the lanes.  Isolated houses, mostly old and renovated, often with attractive gardens, provided another scenic treat.  It was difficult to recall that all this gentle beauty lies between main roads that are conveyer belts to the Channel crossings; and are blighted by over-development and population growth.

After nine miles, we descended on a long decline into the picturesque village of Denton.  Before venturing onto the manically-busy A260, we formed up at the roadside to check for stragglers - but Nick was still with us!  So, braving the lunatic 'cagers', we set off through the village, turning aside from the main road after a few hundred yards to ascend the flank of the valley by way of a winding lane that brought us, at its summit, to the village of Wootton.

A respite here was taken, as the severity of the ascent had spread us out somewhat.  However, on re-starting, two cases of cooked plug came to light, quickly remedied by Nick and Rob respectively.

Even the tandem couple joined us at these stops without hindrance; when they were leading the column, I paced them at a steady 20mph on the level ... impressive.

Our next stop was in Swingfield Street where we formed up on the green, between the Three Bells pub and St Peter's Church.  Some members of the group of the former with the excuse that the church was shut!

The return trip to our starting place took us through the flat farmland to the north of Hawkinge, a grossly burgeoning acreage of surburbia.  We reformed outside the village's one worthwhile attraction: the excellent Battle of Britain Museum on the site of a famous WWII airfield.  We completed our circuit by climbing a mile to Paddlesworth where the Cat and Custard Pot pub provided suitable convivial atmosphere and good beer.

At this point, your scribe, suitably fortified with Guinness, took his leave to prepare the planned BBQ, ably assisted by the indispensable services of a Catering Manageress!  Thank you, Janet!  I hate to think what might have been served up if it had been left to yours truly.

The remainder of the day passed in friendly and most animated social intercourse (as they say ...) from which the most favourable impression of the event was received.  This being so, and as a glutton for punishment, I have provisionally set a date for October 11th of this year for an Autumn Nifty Fifty cc event.  The route will be the same (perhaps travelled in an anti-clockwise direction?) and the landlord of the Three Bells will be happy to accommodate us as a group for a sit-down repast.  To whet appetites, an excellent roast lunch can be had for just £6.  Anyone wishing to attend should contact me on 01303 893286 so that I might be able too gauge response.

Since the event I have received two very appreciative letters: from Nick Devonport and Tim Bunting.  Thanks, chaps.  Such response makes it all worthwhile.

Best wishes and safe riding to all of you out there.  I hope to see you at the next 'Nifty Fifty cc Riders' event.

The participants in the 
A line-up of all the riders

First published, August 1998

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