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Leicestershire Road Run, 29 December 2004

Jeff Lacombe

It was open house at my place at Wanlip.  Nothing formal.  Just bring a bike and anything you might want to swap or sell.  The weather was very cold and rain was forecast for later.  By 11 o'clock there were enough of us for a ride out.  Pete Whelband had just turned up after riding blissfully round Rothkey for half an hour before he remembered I didn't live there.  Anyway, I thought we could ride to the Redgate Animal Rescue Centre at Markfield, cutting through our bit of the Charnwood Forest.  All the machines fired up well, emitting the mandatory blue fog.  At this point I felt I had forgotten something.  Oh, yes, it was to get my own bike out of the garage.  There were no maps, no routes.  "Follow me, lads", I shouted above the squeal of metal in torment.  I could tell by the look on their faces that they had the utmost confidence in my sense of direction.  Everybody revved up and made it successfully to the edge of the pavement and I led off through Wanlip and Birstall and on to the traffic lights on the A6.  From here it was anybody's guess.  About four miles further on John Freckleton's machine developed a problem.  The grinding wheel (Sorry John, I mean the drive roller) came adrift.  Amid much cursing, blasphemy and arm waving, he was last seen pedalling back home to Queniborough.  The rest of us proceeded on our merry way, and stopped off at my mate Andy's house.  Now I must admit a devious reason for this, because for the last two years or so I have been trying to persuade him to get a moped and join the Club.  Seeing the dazzling array of highly polished and finely tuned machines, and the agility of the riders in falling off, how could he not fail to become motivated?  He came out of the house with a tray of hot drinks and gave directions to the toilet.  I assume he was impressed by our patriotic personas - red faces, white knuckles and blue smoke.  He chatted to all of us and had a look around the bikes.  I'm not absolutely certain what his thoughts were when he saw the intrepid riders in his driveway and the puddles of oil on his block paving.  This seemed a good moment to change the plug on my James autocycle, but it made no difference.  It started and ran, but it was still a bit sluggish, occasionally backfiring through the carburettor and blowing smoke rings out of the exhaust pipe.  It was at this point that it started to rain, so I thought, "s*d it, time to move on".  Andy took photos as we all wobbled off, arriving without further mishap at the animal centre.  We wandered around, peering into stables, kennels and ponds.  The pigsty had a very ornate plastic imitation of a stained glass window, and on peering through it for a moment I wondered if it was a pig or my reflection.  The others assured me it was both.  We had good look around, a drink in the cafe, and dropped donations into the plastic dog's mouth, but its tail didn't wag.  We wondered about this later.  It was time to set off.  Ron and Pete made their ways home from here, the remainder of us heading back to my house for hot soup and mince pies.  Unfortunately Rob's machine gave up the ghost on the traffic island at Anstey.  True to form, Brian and Mark soon had it in a hundred bits and rectified the problem and got to my place with no further bother.  After being fed and watered by Ann and Tracy we had a good old natter before dispersing.  Bikes were ridden home or loaded onto trailers, everyone agreeing that we do it again.  The fact that all but one riders actually completed the run is testimony to the endless hours we all spent on preparation and maintenance of our machines.

PS: Up to the time of writng (three weeks) I haven't heard from my mate Andy.

Riders & machines:

First published, April 2005

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