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2 January 2005

by Mark Daniels

As if on cue, the Suffolk weather was mild again, and all on course for another well attended event - and sure enough, it was!  Once again the Orwell Yacht Club car park was clogged as people seemed to come from all over for the annual pilgrimage.  Luke Booth from Hastings (BSA Spritz); St Neots regulars Ralph Richardson (Rudge autocycle), Alex Lees (Norman Motobyk) and Chris Sanders (Raleigh Supermatic); and Ben Teuben (Zündapp) again over from Holland.  The Essex Chapter delivered a goodly representation: Paul Efreme (Phillips Gadabout), Steven Gleed (Zündapp Falconette), Martin Gates (Raleigh Super Tourist) and Nick Bond (Batavus HS50).  The Norfolk section also turned out matching numbers: Keith Ashby (New Hudson) rode all the way down from Holt, Steve Cobb (Phillips Gadabout), Keith Flood (Honda PC50) and Bob Stafford (Honda PC50) from Norwich making a solo representation this year as the other two-thirds of Team Stafford were away competing in the Plymouth/Dakar Banger Rally - yes, they really are bonkers!

As you can probably figure, the Suffolk Section attendance was quite considerable.  Paul Nelmes (New Hudson restyled), Neil Bowen taking a rest from his usual Jap sports moped to sample the antique technology of a borrowed Bown Auto Roadster.  More autocycles: Andrew PattIe (James 2F) and Ted Riceman (James JDL), then a huge swathe of mopeds: Billy Doy, Carl Squirrell and Roly Scarce on a trio of Honda PC50s; Tony Hammond (NSU Quickly); David Evans (Puch MS50); M Anderson (Zündapp ZD40); Neil Dains (Moby Special 7); Laurence Coates (Moby AV78); Carl Harper (Flandria); Peter Green (Honda MT50); Geoff Daw (Simson) and Pete Stanners (Ariel 3).  There's more: David Whatling with the only cyclemotor of the day (Berini M13), Brian Barley (Honda), Mark Daniels (Kerry Capitano), John & David Holmes (more Hondas), Neil Morley (Moby M40), Julian Bocsi (Honda Dax monkey bike).  Then there's Cookeye!  Let me explain: Mick Cook has gone and traded his soul to Satan for the fastest Honda PC50 in the world, the "orange madness" certainly goes like the Devil is after it back!  Then there's the other machinery, Steven & Craig Last on a brace of Lambrettas, Steve 'Wally' Wright (Yamaha DT100), Dave 'Knight Rider' Berry (Bantam Trials), Richard 'TigerMan' Berry (Tiger Cub), Ian Ranson (BSA B3l), Alan Bloys and Regon Rose (backup vehicles).  Is that everyone?  I make that 45 associated vehicles circulating the course.

Many were very keen to get out on the road, and the procession set off from base camp at the Orwell Yacht Club in a series of group assaults on the mighty obstacle of Bourne Hill.  I seemed to be travelling mostly with the main body of autocycles, and Paul Efreme on a Phillips Gadabout 3-speed Rex.  We caught up with Ted Riceman (James JDL) at Tattingstone, then Stephen Gleed into Holbrook, who I thought was tagging along with us, until later when someone said his Zündapp had stopped with ignition problems.  Joined by the motor cycle group, we rode on to Harkstead to find Neil Dains's Moby 'resting' with plug troubles but, as David Evans pulled up to attend, we continued and left him to it.  Erwarton was pleasantly devoid of its usual muddy road-lakes this year, so everyone saved themselves a lot of cleaning for a change.

My own problem also came on this outward leg, with the Kerry at full bore around a sweeping bend heading into Shotley.  Three3-gear Capitanos can go fairly and, wound right up, will certainly get over 40mph.  Leaned over into the dry corner, failing to notice that the shadow of a tall hedge halfway round had left the exit still damp.  Yep, the tyres let go and the Kerry completed the manoeuvre on its handlebar and pedal, leaving two white scars across the tarmac.  Though bike and rider sustained damage, both still completed the course.

There was the usual impressive show of NACC machinery lined up in front of the Shipwreck Bar at Shotley Marina and, once again, many taking lunch and ales on the sea-front tables in front of the clubhouse.  Warm January sunshine, and a row of autocycles and mopeds before a view of the estuary, with the giant cranes of Felixstowe Trinity Terminal on the far side of the river.  The Mince Pie Run sure is great ride to a good spot on a nice day, and this East Anglian coast often delivers some remarkably mild conditions at this time of year.

The return to Orwell Yacht Club set off in various scattered groups, but a loud crack from Martin Gates's Raleigh as he tried to start it in the car park signalled the end of his day.  The pedal shaft had snapped in half!  With flywheel going one way, chainwheel going the other, and both pedals hanging down together, it clearly wasn't going any further.

The homeward journey was appreciably slowed by a strong and cold head wind, all excepting Cookeye and Bocsi, who were off and away sparring with a couple of Jap V-twin cruisers down Freston Hill.  The big motor cycles easily went ahead on the straights, but cornered like supermarket trolleys full of bricks, and the mopeds were right back with them again.

Final casualty of the day was M Anderson's Zündapp ZD40, which suffered a blown out tyre on The Strand, within sight of the finishing line.  More coffee and mince pies back at the Yacht Clubhouse, then it was the journey back home with Ben Teuben, Laurence Coates and Ted Riceman.

So many people said what great rides they had along the course.  You can be pretty sure the event will be just as busy again next year.  And why not?  The Mince Pie Run is one of the oldest established NACC events, exceeded only by the East Anglian Run.  Next local event is Laurie's Radar Run in April, which seems like a long way off, so it'll surely be busy like last year since everyone will be itching to get out on their bikes again - and we're running a Mopedjumble this year too!

First published in Buzzing, February 2005

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