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Mist Pie Run

Mark Daniels

I think the title says it all, though it probably understates the atmospherics.  Going round the course the preceding evening to put up the direction signs, David Evans reported the circuit as being dry and clear of mud, even around Stutton and Erwarton - Yeah right!  It was pointed out that someone might wish to quote him on this, since he did check the route from the warm, cosy comfort of his car, and in the dark.  Needless to say, it was nothing like David's weather and conditions report, and the Anglian Section's annual Mince Pie Run was a damp, fog-bound outing!

The cold, ground level cloud-base and quite a bit of seasonal illness did little to deplete the turnout from previous years, with a creditable 33 registrations on the entry form, of which 26½ probably qualified as NACC eligible.  Presumably you'll be puzzling at the half, but this may be explained by Andrew Pattle's attendance on a 1938 James Clubman bicycle, though without any cyclemotor attachment.  In this configuration it was obviously going to be quicker than the Lohmann and, given the conditions, more reliable, with the ale-fuelled power unit having no vulnerability to roller slip.  Half the field was accounted for in a hugely popular turnout of Puch, Honda and NSUs, while the run was also joined by further support from Neil Bowden (Honda S90), John Dent (Yamaha Majesty), Ian Ranson (BSA B31), and Dave Berry + Ursula (Ex-WD M20).  Carl Squirrell turned out on yet another smart PC50; we don't know where he keeps getting all these things from, but suspect Honda must have quietly set up a new moped manufacturing plant in Framlingham!

Having driven over from the Milton Keynes area, one would ordinarily have expected P Lawson with his Puch Maxi to quallfy for the long distance award.  No such luck however, as DE is now claiming international status for the Mince Pie Run, by the attendance of Ben Teuben travelling from The Netherlands with his Zündapp!

Even before the off, things were developing all the signs of being another zany day, with David Holmes performing dramatic powerslides round the Yacht Club car park on his Ariel 3.  These antics seemed to set the tone for this machine as he went on to wrestle the psychotic contraption round the course.  In maintaining contact with the leading group, the spectacular cornering techniques certainly discouraged his being overtaken on the bends!  Steven Gleed's 70cc Zündapp Falconette sadly coughed to a halt with terminal ignition failure, having barely manged to cllmb Bourne Hill, from where it was coasted back down to the Yacht Club for the rider to continue the course by car.  John Holmes didn't get much further either, as his Mince Pie Run curse struck yet again and the GPO Puch 3 strangled itself with a blocked exhaust around Tattingstone.  DE (NSU Quickly F) ended up towing him all the way to Shotley with an odd piece of rope that was barely long enough to tie a parcel with.  When they pulled in at the Marina, it appeared as if the two bikes were welded together by their front and rear mudguards.  For JH, it looked a great relief to finally stop; clearly the minimal gap between the two machines had made the trip somewhat harrowing.

Going through Holbrook on the Ambassador, I became aware of a steadily increasing whining noise emanating somewhere from the front of the machine, but couldn't identify the source.  Everything seemed to be going OK, so I figured it best to continue on the basis that when whatever it was finally broke, then it would be more obvious to identfy.  Holbrook was also the location of a somewhet unnatural event, being overtaken at 30mph by Paul Efreme on an antique Mobylette AV3!  The AV89 conversion on this elderly machine was obviously delivering the goods, though required discrete use of the throttle since the stirrup front brake's retarding ability became very questionable in relation to the performance.  Going down to Shotley Gate, the rear tyre also seemed to be objecting to the power boosting modifications, since it elected to de-laminate, resulting in a catastrophic blow-out.  Like some dying, low-budget monster from Dr Who, it lay stranded by the bridge as the administered sticky puncture goo oozed from gaping rents in the rubber.  The situation was terminal since the valve had ripped from the tube, and Mick Cousins (Puch 2) waited with him for the recovery service.  Neil Green's Puch City also faltered to an abrupt stop into Shotley with the usual ailment of water in the ignition system.  Assisted by father Peter (Raleigh Wisp), the shorting was quickly wiped clear and they were soon to reach their destination.

David 'Lurch' Stevenson found his Velocette LE suffering icing of the carb, which wouldn't run slow and kept cutting out at junctions, so he and 'Wally' Wright (Yamaha 100) went back to the start point to take the more direct route along the main road.  Having completed the course last year, and "obviously knowing where they were going", they were shadowed into Shotley by a small gaggle of mopeds they collected in the fog.  Like lemmings being led to their doom, these naïve and innocent victims were blindly misled as the group sailed on by the back of the massive Marina Clubhouse to continue right up the boatyard, and disappear deep in the mist.  It is presumed the reallsation dawned that the target had been overshot when the access track finally ran out into the mud banks of the Orwell estuary.

Over the lunch stop, John Holmes took mighty spanners to the blocked exhaust of his GPO Puch and successfully restored performance by scientifically disconnecting the pipe at the manifold.  It may have solved the immediate problem, but sounded like an aeroplane on the return leg.  Leaving the Marina, back toward Shotley Gate, Billy Doy's Norman Nippy Mk4 speedo cable became detached at the head, and was flailing away at the LH side of the machine like a pursuing snake!  Some frantic waving flagged him down, at which the offending fitting was clipped more safely up on his route board.

The Norwich based quartet of Mike Seeley (Raleigh), Tony Pettingill (New Hudson) and J & R Stafford (matching Honda PC5Os) acquitted the team after last year's breakdown debacle.  Just a couple of fouled plugs on Mike's Wisp, but otherwise a fine showing - well done lads!  One of the visitors' comments was "having travelled some distance to the event, it would have been nice to see some of the places!"  The fog however, never relented all day, and most of the time it was barely possible to see much beyond the roadside hedgerows.  Apologies to all the other attendees who didn't get a mention, but again, it was another remarkable turnout.

As a footnote, it wasn't until homeward bound from the rally with Pete Ranson (Phillips Gadabout Rex3) and Ben Teuben, that the source of the Ambassador's mystery whining noise was identified.  I noticed the mileometer dials spinning madly like an aircraft altimeter in free-fall!  The instrument finally managed to record more than 1,500 miles over the course of the run, but by the time I got home, the tinkling noises from inside the device suggested its numbers were finally up.

First published, February 2002

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