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21st July 2009


The 2009 Festival of 1000 Bikes - Part 1
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For many classic riders, the opportunity to clock up a few laps of a famous race circuit makes this event the highlight of the summer. Roy Workman found plenty to do off the track, too...

The Festival of 1000 Bikes is a three-day event, organised by the Vintage Motor Cycle Club and held at Mallory Park race circuit in the UK midlands. Friday is set-up day and camping is available for the weekend. Saturday had a lively programme of events, including track sessions which club members and the general public needed to prebook, as they sell out quite quickly. A pre-65 trial took place in the afternoon and in the evening there was live music at the Ace Café rock and roll stage. There'll be more about the track sessions in part two.

Scotts at the Festival of 1000 Bikes. All of life is here...

Some rain and bright periods best described the weather on my journey to the show on the Sunday. One particularly heavy shower saw an MZ rider diving for cover under some roadside trees. Luckily that was the last of the rain for the day. As I arrived some racers were doing some practice laps for the historic grass track races which were to take place later in the day.

The area around the track is a 'work in progress' as they are trying to improve the facilities. There is a new stand being built to allow better viewing of the off road circuit.

Two's company?... Cyclemotor Tandem

Saturday's track sessions are more for road machines and these are split into four groups, depending on the speed of the machines. A chap on the Cyclemotor Club stand told me that he and fellow club members had ridden around the track along with the vintage motorcycles. He said that he had found Shaw's hairpin exciting, even with the performance of his 32cc engine and pushbike block brakes. Older machines with old-style 'slicer' front number plates have to cover them with foam cladding for safety; foam pipe insulation seemed a popular choice for this purpose.

On Sunday the noise levels are lifted and this allows full-blown racing machines on to the track

Early bath... MV Agusta 350

Wandering past the Avenue of Clubs I spotted an MV 350 on a trailer. As I went to take a photo of it a young lady asked me if I liked her bike. Apparently she had not had too much luck on Saturday when the kickstart lever broke off, then, to cap it all, her husband managed to break the rear brake pedal! Other than that she had really enjoyed the weekend. She was really proud of the fact that Agostini had signed her petrol tank for her; maybe this happened at last year's meeting.

Lunch time on Sunday saw a sprint demonstration take place on the start straight; this was followed by Titch Allen, the founder member of the club, doing three laps of the course. Titch, who is now 95 years of age, was chauffeured around in his Morgan three-wheeler and he was given a rousing cheer as he passed.

Just what has that guilty looking man on the left been up to?...

Next came the Past Masters' track parade; these racers included Carl Fogarty, Phil Read, Sammy Miller and a host of other stars. Michael Dunlop should have been riding the latest Norton racer; however a work's development engineer rode it instead. There were several Norton rotaries on the track, including five from the National Motorcycle Museum. In another group there were nearly twenty Honda four-cylinder 250s on the track, and with all of these machines together there was a great noise from the exhausts. Whilst these are technically 'parade laps' the riders were really trying to outdo each other in a spirit of 'friendly' competition.

Satnav allows MZ riders to speed up for Gatsos... MZ Riders' Club

I wandered back through the Avenue of Clubs - these clubs range from cycle motors to Brough Superiors. I dropped into the MZ tent, where there was a nice display of machines, including their star bike which was a 1956 BK 350cc. The notice outside the stand pointed out that all the machines on display had been ridden in to the event. No trailers for MZ men… One club member told me that he has a Sat Nav system and this saved him the other day when it bleeped to warn of a speed camera!

The Avenue of Clubs was well represented again, with about 45 clubs - slightly less than last year. The guys manning the RealClassic stand did a sterling job of providing a focus for RC readers to meet up and park their bikes.

Morinis make great tent pegs. But where has everyone gone?

Last year's position opposite the main race straight had been better for these displays as you got more people passing by; however this year they were closer to the entrance so once people had passed they did not tend to come back that way. After last year's blustery conditions the RC Crew tied the gazebo to a couple of motorcycles to help hold it down.

MZs on eBay.co.uk

This is a really good show. The VMCC told me that about eight thousand people had attended over the weekend. There is always plenty to see and do at this event, and I only scratched the surface. It is certainly a credit to the organising ability of the club. Well worth a visit.

All of life is here, part 2...

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The VMCC organise a variety of road-runs, autojumbles and other events throughout the year. See www.vmcc.net or check our events page to find the next outing near you…


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