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Mince Pie Monster - 4 January 2004

Mark Daniels

It was bound to happen sometime, the 21st Mince Pie Run, the usual David Evans Christmas card junk-mailshot, mild, dry and sunny weather, and the perfect formula for a record turnout.  Building on the earlier successes of progressive years, this one broke all records in such a way that David really could have done with a full-time assistant on the reception catering.  With this event running in conjunction with the FMCC, there were just too many machines to co-ordinate a group start, and certainly more than the reporting team could effectively monitor.

Most of the troublesome vehicles were weeded out within the first half-mile by a natural geological feature that provides selection of the fittest: trial by Bourne Hill!  Setting forth with the tail-end group of Neil Morley (Moby M40) and John Shaw (Honda PC50), your reporter (Mercury Mercette), passed by the roadside victims of this first obstacle.  Bob Vince in the backup vehicle was set for a busy morning!  Down but not out, team Stafford's lunatic Power-Pak tandem with pilot John, and navigator Tim, appeared to have an engine that was hibernating for the winter, while Bob Stafford (Honda PC50) and BV offered assistance.  While the other 2/3 of the "History of James" autocycle team, Wally Wright (Junior), and Paul Nelmes (Superlux 2F), were romping away with the leading group, their colleague Ted Riceman was locked in a struggle with his Superlux JDL, having an all day aversion to hills.  At the top, and odds-on favourite for a terminal breakdown, Luke Booth (ABC Scootamotor) had stopped with fuel supply problems - mind you, it does help to actually have some petrol in the tank!  We passed slow runners Andrew Pattle (Honda Motocompo) and Ralph Richardson (Rudge/Cyclemaster), then not another soul through Tattingstone, Stutton and Holbrook.  Lower Holbrook found Keith Flood's hitherto proven and reliable Norman Model C autocycle expired with dead ignition, and Tony Hammond (New Hudson Restyled) in attendance.  It proved terminal and Tony returned to base camp for the recovery trailer.

We were caught up at Harkstead by David Evans (Puch MS50D) and Ben Teuben (Zündapp ZD40), sweeping from the back of the field, and the five of us continued the rest of the route together to the halfway point.  Meanwhile, up at the front with the crazy gang, our sports reporter Pete Ranson (Kerry Capitano) was well in the thick of the action.  Battling for points scoring places in the first heat, FMCC riders Mick Cook (Moby M50V) and J Bocsi (Vespa Ciao), Steve Cobb (Puch MS50V), Martin Gates (Garelli BiMatic), Carl Harper (Moby M40), Laurence Coates (Moby AV78 "Old Rusty"), Paul Efreme (Norman Nippy), PN and WR (James pair) and Terry Keeble (Raleigh RM6).  Then, hotly pursued by the main pack: N Daines (Moby Special 7); M Anderson (NSU Quickly); Steven Gleed (Zündapp Falconette); G Daw (Raleigh Supermatic); Neil Bowen & John Holmes (Honda Cubs); David Holmes (Suzuki A80); Alan Bloys (Power-Pak); Alex Lees (Raleigh RM9) and Roly Scarce, Billy Doy & Carl Squirrell on a trio of Honda PC50s.  And there's more: Peter & Neal Green (Raleigh Wisps), Shaun Banyard (Yamaha DT50), David Whatling (Rex FM40), Tony Pettingill (New Hudson) with colleague Ian Munroe scoring no NACC points on his Ex-WD 350 Enfield.  Also in the no points category: Mark Gibb (BSA M21), David 'Lurch' Freeman (Bantam D7), Dave Berry (Bantam Trials D3), Ian Ranson (BSA B31), Keith Ashby (Austin A35), and Brian Barley & A Rose on non-descript Japanese 125s.

By all counts, this main group was the place to be for maximum entertainment since everyone was most enthusiastic about the ride.  Once again, lunch stop was the Shipwreck Bar at Shotley Marina, and saw people actually out enjoying the break with a beer in the sun on the seafront, so you get some idea what the weather was like - and this, in January!  The fatigues of battle forced some pit-stop repairs as the Greens survived broken throttle and front brake cables on their respective Wisps, while the hard ridden Kerry suffered a broken rear brake cable thanks to 'Leadfoot Ranson'.  Various casualties continued to limp in over the lunch stop and the return leg proved a straight run back down the main road in several groups.

Credits this year have to go to all the lame ducks that managed to battle their ailing machines through in the face of adversity:

The much contested long distance merit goes to the Netherlands for the third year running with Ben Teuben from Purmerend, however this year he returned as a foot passenger without bike, having sold the Zündapp to David Evans.  There were many runners-up in this category: Luke Booth from Hastings, Ralph Richarson & Alex Lees again travelling from St Neots, while neighbouring Anglian counties also supplied admirable support, particularly from the Norfolk groups with Tony Pettingill, Ian Munroe, Keith Ashby, Team Stafford (Bob, John & Tim), Steve Cobb, Keith Flood and Tony Hammond.

Between the NACC, FMCC riders, and backup vehicles, I make it we had some 50 various machines negotiating the 21st Mince Pie course this year, and that's very definitely a new record.  The day was all the more enjoyable for the very kind weather, and many thanks to everyone for their support.  Next Anglian event is our new "Radar Run" in April - hope to see you there.

First published, February 2004

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