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20th December 2010

Rides: The Longest Day
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It seems appropriate that on the shortest day of the year we celebrate a RealClassic ride which takes place on the summer solstice. So be of good cheer: the days are now getting longer again...

One of the small acorns to fall from the great oak which is the Cosmic Bike Co is the RC216. Every year on 21st June a few RealClassic readers get together for a rideabout on one of the moors in Cornwall or Devon. Here's a brief run down of how the runners and riders got on in the 2010 RC216.

Just when it seemed that the twenty-first of any June in Devon and Cornwall could be relied upon to be chilly and a bit drizzly at least, or subject to gales and monsoons at most, along rolled 21/6/10.

By 8am in Liskeard the temperature was 57 degrees Fahrenheit, the sky was blue and a very gentle breeze was resting, too lazy to blow the day. Staggering really. Quite disoriented I surveyed the bikes in the Eclectic Shed trying to decide which was best suited to the eventualities of the RC216 Ride In 2010. In the end I selected the Miracle Bike of the Moment, a Harley Davidson MT350 - 1993 - a mere stripling at seventeen years and it has only one sparking plug. On these events I generally reckon a Meriden twin is your man but today, today we'd have an American built Euro Trundler. Well it has an electric starter and two panniers sited lowish and between the wheels.

Before packing the panniers with kitchen sinks, Marigolds and cheese sandwiches, I pumped up the tyres and topped up the oil on my other OTR bikes, a forty year old Triumph and a fifty year old Velocette -- just to keep options open.

Then I figured to plan a route and sat down with a ten year old AA map book in which I spotted near Bodmin a place called Norton. Thus the RC216 suddenly had potential to become a RealClassic 2010 Norton Challenge Event too. What a hoot!

The Rendezvous. Only RC folk would bring their own Subway delivery service...

At 09:30 excitement and anticipation got the better of me and I set off far too early for the Rendez-vous. For a few weeks I'd been perfecting a back lane route from NVNL Acres to Plusha and I gave it one more go just to be sure. It's a pretty route through varied terrain using biggish roads and littlish lanes. The way lies through North Hill which is the original home of the legendary and sometimes elusive Footsbarn Theatre Company. I always like North Hill for that. Lovely Church, great pub (The Racehorse Inn), we even had a mare covered near there once but somehow "home of the Footsbarn Theatre Company" just makes me want to ride through there.

Half an hour early I arrived at the first rendez-vous, naturally Dave Capon and Phill Rashleigh were there already, and had bagged a good table with a commanding view of the A30. We saw the rest ride in while Phill regaled us with the tale of his sidestand falling off, being found and refitted and still getting to the cafe early.

Now anyone who knows Phill's bike or Phill himself will be amazed that anything would ever fall off, BSA or not. Seriously, I've ridden that bike and it's a very together machine.

The 2/3 scale model of a Rocket 3 was very impressive...

At eleven we set off having been joined by Pete Smith from Veryan, Dave Blendell (A Personal View of the Message Board) from Plimuff, Bill Nelson from Kettering (Trust me - they're not sobbing themselves to sleep in Kettering) and Bill Dag from the LE Velo Forum who'd ridden in from Newton Abbot on his Trident. Total bike count according to Engineering Secretary Rashleigh was - 2 x Hondas, 2 x BSAs, 2 x Triumphs and 1 x H-D (fake).

Because I had the slowest bike and was best at playing the lost-and-found-on-Bodmin-Moor game I led the way as we trundled our petty pace from point to point. The leafy shade of Trewint, Altarnun, St Clether rolled by at no great speed and we hit the top of the world under a big blue sky at Davidstow Moor where according to Chris 'Jampot' Read ghostly WWII aeroplanes are still to be heard occasionally on the disused airfield.

Pete Smith had mentioned over coffee that the lanes from Crowdy Reservoir towards Advent Church were among Cornwall's finest so we gave them a go and very lovely they were, slipper bridges, fords, long views, dragonflies, sheep, buzzards, bunnies and my personal favourite - a chestnut mare in foal with foal at foot standing in a pond cooling their hooves. Anyone would think it was midsummer.

Pete Smith: The only Norton in the village...

Pete finished this section off by leading us to not only the Norton found in the AA map book but another nearby as well. He reckoned there was a third but we were all very hot standing about in the midday sun for the photography so we climbed aboard and headed for the leafy shade of Cardinham Woods picnic area where the woods were lovely, dark and deep and we had promises to keep.

Our first promise was to Mrs NVNL who looked in with one of the dogs to say hello to some old friends and to meet Dave C and the two Bills for the first time, then -- amid a virtual fanfare AndyC -- thundered in from Somerset on his commendably boisterous Royal Enfield 612 and so our second promise was kept.

Nortons on Right Now......

Now AndyC is the reason we have the 216. Back in 2005 or thereabouts AndyC bought a Series 1 1974 Triumph Daytona. As a fan of the C Range 500s and an erstwhile fettler of a Series 2 1974 Triumph Daytona, I suggested we meet on Dartmoor for a compare and contrast session. Andy chose 21st June and we've bumbled on from there.

2010 was the first time Andy had actually managed to be with us in the material sense and by way of divine coincidence Pete Smith had turned up on his Series 2 1974 Triumph Daytona, rare moments indeed. There was no shortage of nattering both on and off topic. Bill Dag's Trident and Dave C's 1969 Rocket III were much admired while Bill entertained the local kids taking photographs of them on his BSA (Honda) CB500.

The only telegraph pole on Dartmoor. Fact...

As it turned out we nattered for a very long time in that pleasant shady valley, so long that our afternoon ride was seriously curtailed and we didn't get to visit the stone circle at Duloe. Next year, next year. Instead we meandered on to our 3 O'clock rendez-vous by way of Respryn Bridge, the three Taphouses , Rosecraddoc, and a couple of miles before the turn for North (home of the Footsbarn Theatre) Hill we got stuck behind a slow-moving Volvo which duly turned for ... North Hill, so we carried straight on to the Subway at Plusha and although it meant we missed out on a second place of major cultural significance in one afternoon we did arrive minute-perfect at our end point. Fluke.

We drank hot brown coffee and ate Cornish Fairings in the sunshine. Good day, thanks to one and all, and two Nortons to boot.

Roll of Honour (Arbitrary)

  • Most Cylinders Award - Dave Blendell
  • Fewest Cylinders Award - Phill Rashleigh
  • Best 1969 Self-build - Dave Capon BSA A75
  • Furthest Travelled Award - Bill Nelson for taking the trouble to pop down from Northamptonshire
  • Coincidence of the Day Award - AndyC and Pete Smith jointly for their 1974 Daytonas
  • Having the Courage to Turn Up When You've Never Met Any of the Others Award - Bill Dag

    After a longest day ride, a longest day natter...


    Next year in Duloe! See for details in due course.


    Words: NVNL

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