I’m not one to tell tales, but...
Jampot Pre-Rally Tour, Feb 20
Riding our fine Matchless’ or AJSs (with a few moderns and a car or two) we did around 2,000 miles (3,200 kms sounds even better). Down the West Coast, we were rained on (as was Gore which had a Civil Defence Emergency), roads were closed, people became wet, slips were common, bikes threw wobblies, there were tantrums... But we did arrive at Invercargill in time for the Burt Munro week of speed.
Traveling back up the East Coast was a doodle in comparison. Along the way, we became connoisseurs of scones. As one person said to me “we will have a baking day this week and knock up some date scones. As I scoff that lot I will be thinking of the laughs we all enjoyed and friends made.”
Some 39 of us attended the pre-international rally tour (others joined us part way through the tour so by the time we arrived back in Nelson there were some 55 of us). As you will appreciate, there were a few exciting moments with such a large number of elderly motorcycles on such a long trip (2,000 miles, over 2 weeks) and varying weather conditions.
As I recall it, problems started early on. Very early on. For example, one loan bike refused to leave Auckland. So, the rider had to settle for a car ride to Nelson where he was able secure a second bike to ride.
Each day, there were problems, usually with a bike or two or three or… I’m sure the back-up drivers would be able to say how many bikes died each day on the ride to the next destination. Now some bikes, got the bit between the teeth as they say. Regular offenders, clearly felt they hadn’t got the attention they deserved. There were a couple of thoroughbreds (??) from the same stable (as in owner, not sire), that regularly broke down. One of them had been loaned to an overseas visitor. This caused much angst between the two parties.
The daily ritual
Most bikes were not so bloody minded (a flat tyre, and throwing a rider off in gravel aside). Nevertheless, for many riders there was a daily ritual.
A lucky few. Actually, that’s not right. Those of us who gave our bikes a good going over before the pre-rally ride (do I sound smug?) and at the overnight stops running a rag or two over their bikes, had few problems - a screw here, a loose nut there, a tank rubber that had just evaporated!…
Unfortunately, others had problems. Water in the mag was a common complaint. In fact, dead mags, even if only temporary, was a common complaint. Broken spokes was another misdemeanour, a worn out main shaft did one bike in, a slipping clutch (soon fixed)…
Most riders topped up their bike’s petrol tank before they went to bed. But not always. For example, in one incident we learnt the road was going to be closed early that morning. There was a mad rush to leave quite a bit earlier than planned. Indeed, some people were only thinking about breakfast (in bed). At least two of us rushed off to get petrol. Only to miss the rest of the riders having being sent, by a local, in the wrong direction. We did get onto the road before it closed. It was close, the barriers were up, the workers standing by ready to shut the road…
Petrol was also the cause of grief for “one or two riders”. I mean to say, who forgot to turn their bike’s petrol tap on? And then there was the rider who left after the backup truck whizzed by, and ran out of petrol? The back-up driver was NOT happy. He had to drive back kms and kms and then had to have a long rest (or was that a beer), before carrying on. That was on the day a loan AJ/ Matchless went whizzing past us at a million miles an hour (we riding at about 60 mph), only to come to a screeching halt as the back wheel locked up! A long black skid mark was noted by all.
But that’s enough gossiping for now. Having had a weekend of no riding, I am now off for a long weekend trip of around 640 miles to see a friend and fellow motorcyclist, recently out of hospital (and yes, a spot of rain is forecast for Saturday).
Penned by Pierre