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Mince Pie Musings

by Kevin Bond

It was in 1953, my 16th birthday that I took my first 'fix'.  No messing, straight onto the hard stuff: OOB&U (old, odd, bad & ugly).  That first hit was a 1932 Fanny-B 197 SS (supposedly Super Sports!) 5 years older than myself and costing £25.  Within days I was totally addicted.  Motocycosis, as we all know, is a drug but OOB&U is the 'crack' of motocycosis addicts; there is no way back.  I am as addicted today as I was in 1953, but I regret to say that I did not realise that I could pass it on to my children.  I tried to warn my son of the dangers of OOB&U but to no avail; it was in his blood; he had to dabble and is now hooked.

When I realised that I was an addict I joined a self-help group, the VMCC, people who could understand and help with regular therapy sessions.  These were hidden by calling them club meetings and runs.  When my son finally admitted he had a problem I said he must seek such help at once.  "It's not the same as you Dad, its much worse!"  "MUCH WORSE, HOW?"  The answer I was dreading came, "I'm into cyclemotors and mopeds".  I did not know what to say, this IS extreme, even the VMCC can't help with this, they do not really understand.  But, in a backroom somewhere, a long-suffering soul whispered "Try the NACC".  Give credit where due, he joined, the magazine Buzzing soon let him know he was not on his own, help was at hand.

"Dad, would you like to come to one of our therapy sessions?  Mince Pie Run, Ipswich, 2nd January 2005, meet you there 10:30."  So addicted is he that he rode a 'throw-up' yellow Batavus from Frinton-on-Sea to Ipswich (approx 25 miles) rather than stick it in the people carrier.  On my arrival I was immediately struck (appalled) by the depth of addiction for all to see.  The signs were everywhere, men running up and down pushing bikes, bits of rag being wiped over machines, wisps of blue smoke being inhaled, the rubbing of hands, stamping of feet.  "Bloody cold!" they said, it did not fool me.  Along with watery eyes and runny noses these are all signs of a winter therapy session; I KNOW, I have been there.  Then there were the overheard scraps of conversation, "fitted a new reed valve", "uprated the carb", "clutch is a bit iffy", and even a pusher blatantly catering for the really bad cases by selling complete engine kits (I have to admit temptation was great!)

Finally the apprehension of the actual fix, THE ROAD RUN!  The ultimate these poor souls have come for, "will I make it round?", "Tom, don't get too far ahead", "they say there are some fair old climbs", "have you got your tool kit? Forgot mine", etc, etc.  But, regardless of problems and obstacles, "I want to go, I have to go, I NEED to go", and off they went - all 41 of them.  Puch, Raleigh, Rudge, Zündapp, Batavus, New Hudson, you name it, it was there.  (The addicts have their problems, what about the machines?  32cc, 50cc, 98cc, trying to drag anything from about 10 stone to 16 stone riders!  My own son on his moped could only be compared to an international freight container being carried by a Morris Minor Pick-up.)  Up the hills and round the lanes, only one or two break-downs (mental, I think) but they all made it to Shotley under their own steam.

Lunch stop, much nattering, the 'fix' is getting into their blood streams.  I remarked to the rider of the Ariel 3 that it looked like a very bad experience from behind.  "Oh it's not that bad", he says, "Its 3 times worse than that".  Now THAT is real addiction.  No hope whatsoever!  Back to Ipswich, 26 miles later but everyone smiling, they have all sucked it in, they will be OK for a few days, weeks, in some cases months, but be sure, sooner or later they are all going to need that 'fix' once again.

Gentlemen I salute and applaud you.  Thanks, I enjoyed my day out, NOW will you all go back to your rooms, its lock-up time!

By the way, does anyone know where I can lay my hands on a Maico Mobil?  The elephant of the scooter world, probably not the ugliest scooter ever made but prepared to fight for the title, late 50s, early 60s.  If I can't find one I think I shall have to settle for a Velocette LE.

First published, February 2005

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