18th September 2014
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RC Ride-in to the National Motorcycle Museum
It had been yonks since we'd visited the Bike Museum at Brum, so we arranged a day when RealClassic readers would be especially welcome. To our astonishment, the world and his dog joined us. Victor Garman shares his impressions of the day...
I really enjoyed the RC ride-in to the National Motorcycle Museum. The Museum is of course very special and, having never visited before, I was suitably impressed. I hadn't realised that this was an entirely British museum - for British bikes only - and the little talk by the James the Director was really informative. What came across was his bounding enthusiasm for the museum and his job. I have some abiding memories of the day I'd like to share.
It was fantastic to see not one but two Vincents actually being ridden, both in oily-rag condition. My memories of the 1970s when the Norton Owners used to share a clubroom with the Vincent boys in Brighton were that it was always thus. Vincents hadn't reached the stratospheric values that they have now, and those guys used to ride them all day, every day, in all weathers. And so they should!
It was nice to have arrived in time for a meet-and-greet and a look at the astounding variety of bikes assembled outside. Not all were worthy of the epithet 'classic' though, but nevertheless a good effort by all who attended.
As for the tour of the exhibits, one can't fail to be impressed by the quality of every restoration. I was perplexed though to see at least 20 Nortons all fitted with the euphemistically named 'oil bath' chaincase and not a single drop of oil under any of them. All of them empty of oil obviously! I have a vision in my head that will not go away. That of PUB on her hands and knees, bottom in the air, giving a close examination to the Series A HRD, no doubt wondering how much extra oil she would need on-board should she be riding one of those!
Tour over, I fed the inner man and repaired outside to find that the Norton rotary racer had eventually fired up and what sweet music issued forth! I remember it being much, much louder and I have seen them raced many times. Trevor Norton on the Nation (thanks Murray) at the Formula TT in 1989 (I think) and a few times in Ireland at the North West 200. But then that was 20 odd years ago and the clarity of my hearing has worsened somewhat over those years...
As bikes and riders started to leave, I thought we were to be treated to a reprise of that scene in 'Every Which Way But Loose'. You know the one; when Clyde knocks one of the 'Black Widows' off his bike and causes the whole line to fall like dominos! A gentleman departing dropped the front wheel of his machine gently down the kerb - and found that his feet wouldn't now reach the ground. Fortunately a calamity was averted by the swift intervention of a couple of bystanders.
I was well impressed by the 'differently abled' gentleman in his specially adapted BMW outfit, with his wheelchair clamped securely in the chair. I take my hat off to you, sir, and your pilot. Clearly you are not about to let a silly little thing like disability stand in the way of enjoying your motorcycling. Well done you!
On the down-side… you know; pleasure and pain, reward and all that. The journey up from Brighton, M25, M40, M42, was excruciating and I have to say that the GB500TT arrived back in far better shape than its rider. The ride home was lightened a touch when a pretty little Honda 400RR (the mini RC30) followed me into the services. I proceeded to chat to the owner, who appeared to have a different chromosome arrangement than myself. Yes, a girlie, and very fetching she was in her tight black leathers. Gasp! I can feel another cardiac coming on!
If you missed the RC Ride-In to the NMM then there's another excellent opportunity to enjoy the Museum's hospitality, exhibits and a whole range of special events on Saturday 1st November 2014. The special celebrations mark the Museum's 30th anniversary with:-
All this and more will be going on at the Museum at Coventry Road, Bickenhill, Solihull, West Midlands B92 0EJ, just off the M42. Free parking available and excellent refreshments available on-site.
There's still time to buy raffle tickets for the Vincent from: www.thenmmshop.co.uk/ raffle-tickets-win-a-1951-vincent-rapide
Full details about the museum at: www.nationalmotorcyclemuseum.co.uk
Photos by Rob Norton and Frank Westworth
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