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Dukeries Autumn Dawdle - 12 October 2003

Dave Stevenson

Unfortunately the Dukeries' re-emergence as an active riding section was jinxed from the start.  Originally planned for 19 October, the event was moved back a week to avoid a clash with the Stafford Classic Mechanics Show.  An explanation with the revised date was dispatched to Buzzing.  The magazine, however, appeared late and thus only those who read the NACC website or came to the regular Yorkshire section meetings were aware of the change.  Never mind, it's not the quantity but the quality that matters.

Frank Kilmore turned up on an early Honda Goldwing converted to a trike and pulling a small trailer.  It was difficult to see this in any sort of cyclemotoring light, but we tried.  It is only a little over half the capacity of the current behemoth bearing the same name so in that sense (and only in that sense) it's a lightweight.  Marion Casper was on the Vespa Ciao continuing the successful riding career she bravely commenced in France at Sars Poteries this year.  Her, and our, Chairman was on his Britax Cucciolo which went round sounding like something five times the capacity and leaving a whiff of vegetable oil on the air, one of the sweeter smells a sunny lane can possess (in marked contrast to some of the other odours you can meet in a byway).  Harold Hayes brought along his 'latest' project, a Mini-Motor that he has owned since 1956.  It was last on the road in 1957 and I for one intend to buy him a beer to commemorate the first run that he successfully completes on it.  The 46 year restoration period makes me feel a lot better about one or two projects I have had lying around.  The Mini-Motor is at this point still hors de combat but was assembled, which still puts it ahead of some of my rebuilds.

John Hook had ridden the 46 miles from Burton-on-Trent on his Bernadi Buzz mounted on a full-suspension mountain bike.  Like all John's bikes this one looked immaculate and went as well as it looked.  Keith Glover brought his NSU Quickly over from Stoke.  A three gear, two-seater without rear suspension (go on admit it, you knew what the model number was straightaway) it too performed very well.  Nick Smith unloaded from his van another mountain bike with an engine bought in Ecuador, but of Far Eastern origin, mounted within the main frame triangle and driving the rear wheel by chain.  The rear sprocket was bolted to the spokes of the rear wheel.  It seemed to perform very well and repeated the modest ingenuities of the post-war machines from a devastated Europe that are our staple fare, in the new economic context of the Third World.  David Scott also turned up before the ride began to demonstrate his self-built electrical bicycle.  The almost silent running made it a treat to ride.  Unfortunately David was one of those planning to come the following weekend and had to leave for a family occasion before the start of the run.  Our editor was also present, Mini-Motor mounted.

The organisers' team consisted of: Uncle Phil and Auntie Linda on a BMW 650 which he insisted he needed to "marshal!", whatever that means.  Steven Smith on a Honda Novio, Sheila Brown, the Telegraph's girl on a moped (you can't imagine how well that's gone down with her Guardian-reading, Labour-voting sister) and the Maths Adviser pillioning on my Puch Grand Prix.  This was not Mrs Smith's first outing since her accident - she had pillioned on my BSA Bantam at the Rotherham Rally in September - but it was her first NACC event.

This gives me the chance to tell you a little tale.  The previous year, before Barbara broke her leg and arm, she had allowed me to persuade her to act as stoker on the Mini-Motor powered Chip Shop tandem in the annual Rotherham Motoring Weekend.  For reasons I can no longer remember, we both wore 1950s school uniforms, describing ourselves as the "St Trinian's School Outings Committee".  On the morning of the event we pedalled in to the starting point with Steven, Barbara's son, some distance behind trying to pretend he didn't know us.

If you've ever turned up to a fancy dress party in costume when no one else has bothered, you'll know what it felt like.  We stood for five minutes while everybody tried to took busy talking to someone else.  Eventually an old man and his friend sidled up to the Maths Adviser. "You that girl who rode the Bown round last year?" he asked.  (Girl! I thought you had to have your eyesight tested every three years to keep your driving licence past seventy.)  Smith demurred that it was indeed she.  "I am glad to see you dressed in the short skirt," he said, "I rode the whole way round behind you last year just to watch your bum wobble over the bumps."  It makes you want to live to be eighty, doesn't it?  Just to be able to get away with saying stuff like that.

Anyway, back to the Dawdle.  Man of the match was undoubtedly John Workman with the 1914 Wall Auto-Wheel.  I first met John about ten years ago at that year's Rotherham Rally.  He had just acquired an elderly machine which he was in the process of getting going.  I assumed that it must have been the Wheel.  Apparently not, that was a Clement Garrard (whatever that is or was).  John rode his first Wall on his sixteenth birthday.  John's looking OK, but no one could be fooled into thinking that he's 26 (except, perhaps, for the old fellow who called the Maths Adviser a "girl").  On the way back from the tearooms we all rode behind the Wall for a while.  I know I'm simple-minded but to follow a bike moving under its own power which contains parts manufactured 89 years ago was impressive.

The weather was kind.  The route was typical of the autumn Dukeries' scenery, particularly fine after the exceptional summer.  There were prizes.  John Workman received a bottle of Bangladeshi beer for obvious reasons.  Poor old Paul Hornby got a bottle of Spitfire as a consolation prize, which seemed appropriate.  He had been forced to abandon the ride when his inner tube had exploded taking part of the sidewall of the tyre with it.  John Hook received the third bottle of ale as recognition of the fact that he always rides to these events from his home.

Thus ended a slightly inauspicious start to the revival of the Dukeries section, but never mind: "We'll be back" in the spring (although probably not as the Governor of California).

First published, December 2003

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