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3rd May 2004

The First National Classic Bike Clubs' Show

A Paul, a BMW called Beatrice, G80 not shown.The RealClassic Roadshow went to Stanford Hall. There were more Pauls than could be easily counted, DelBoy won an award (ssshh; he's embarrassed about it,) and even Rowena had a good time...

Can I let you into a little secret? Just you, me, and about 40,000 other RealClassic readers, OK? I can trust you, can't I? Cool...

Here's the scam: I don't like going to bike shows much.

Another Paul, a Triumph, CB350 not shown.Actually, that's an understatement. I don't really like going to bike shows at all. Give me half a good reason to go in the opposite direction and I will do. It's not simply that years of working at the things has taken the shine off 'em - truth is that long before I was a working hack, compelled to endure ordeal by NEC, I was utterly unenthused by the whole palaver. It's not that I don't want to see the bikes - cos I do. And it's not that I don't want to browse the stalls - cos shopping is, after all, a girl's happiest past-time.

Nope. It's the combined Mick Merrick, tongue shown.effect of all those people and all those bikes, crammed into too small a space, out of their element, artificially jammed together with the life stifled out of them. FW has just about convinced me that some people can take huge pleasure in owning and fettling motorcycles but, for me, 99.99% of the positive part of the experience is still made up of riding the things. Even though half (OK, more than half) of my motorcycles don' right now, they are all still bikes which I wanted in the first place only because I wanted to ride them. The fact that they're complete pigs to get and then keep running only makes the eventual riding of them all the more rewarding (I tell myself. Repeatedly). Chuck Jackson

So for fun we more usually go to jumbles, where everything is pleasantly chaotic, and where we can go bit-hunting, and where any bikes we find are usually for sale and we can entertain interesting notions of how to pay for them, and how to get them home if we bought them, and surely there's some space in the kitchen which isn't taken up by a motorcycle just yet? Proper bike shows are all a bit... oppressive. One of the nice things about not working full time on a pukka bike mag has been that we've not had to drag our sorry selves around the same-old same-old three times each year.

So. It wasn't just the brand new, intimidatingly huge RC tent which was giving me cause for concern on the evening before the first Clubs' Jim Rendell, with Award Winning Paul Merrick in the background.Show. I was worried that it would rain and no one would show up. I was worried that it wouldn't rain and no one would show up. I was worried that the tent would never go up and if it did it would blow away in the monsoon. I was worried that we'd have recommended an event to everyone which wouldn't live up to its promise; one which would be a let down.

I need to worry less.

There are some idyllic days which sum up why Smiling Frank on Del's Square Fourand what we do, and this was one of them. The fields was full of bikes, full of bikes being fired up, full of bikes being ridden around. The RealClassic stand was full of bikes, too - and could you have asked for a better cross-section of motorcycles to capture the essence of this site and our spin-off magazine? Two (count 'em!) Vincents, a Triton to die for, a CB1100R and a Z650, an Ariel Square, Nortons Commando and Dominator, the inevitable (and most welcome) Triumph twin and even a camo-coloured combo plus Beatrice the BMW and Olive the Enfield and... all the rest of them. I dare not even start to give the RealClassic Club members namechecks cos I'll miss people out and there'll be tears at bedtime.

Oh yeah, and there were several dozen other clubs stands too - all of them packed with real life classic bikes, and all of them ready to take a quick spin around the ring to show off those classics to best effect. Emm and Olive the Enfield, then round they go again...Did you hear the MV fire up? Did you see the TOMCC in action? (They took the award for Best Club Stand, I think). Did you see the F1 Sport on the rotary club stand? Did you pat Delboy on the back for winning an award with his Square Four? Did you see the RealClassic Crew rumbling around the ring with something resembling flair and flamboyance? Did you appreciate the incredible achievement of getting that damn tent back into its original packing? And at the end of the day, did you go home with a great big grin on your face?

Kawasaki Z650...B1? Single disc, spoked wheels... Where's my anorak?

Yup. Me too.

So, OK. Some shows are all right. Some shows are actually good. I'm beginning to understand that it's not the venue, nor even the weather - and it's only partly to do with the bikes. Without the people who ride or restore them, the bikes are largely lifeless. Maybe that's what's missing from the shows which I've never enjoyed, the ones made up of lifeless static displays. Without the people, what are the machines?

Were you`there?

Mmm.. nice tent.

PS: Paul Merrick! You won a Highly Commended rosette, you know. We'll give it to you when we test your bike...


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