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23rd June 2004

Stri Son Saorsa Rally

Way oop north, BikerBabe went on a MAG-organised rally and demo run, detoured for a quick rant about speeding, and wonders where the classic bikes were that day...

The Stri Son Saorsa rally was held at Thainstone Agricultural Centre for the fifth year running. The fully equipped site lies just on the outskirts of Inverurie, and people come from wide and far (and locally too) to sample the delights of springtime camping, not to mention a massive BBQ accompanied by enormous quantities of something called 'beer'. Music and laughter combine to ease the not so nice thoughts of spending two nights in a soggy tent on very bumpy ground with only frozen creepy crawlies for company.

Fortunately, I was busy on the two days and nights preceding the Aberdeenshire MAG's demonstration run which partners the Stri Son Saorsa rally, so all the above is mere hypothesis on my part, but speaking to one or two campers, they did confirm that it was a little parky under canvass!

Little girl in blue: 'Daddy, if I get a motorbike will all my hair fall out?'

To the demo then. I'm not sure I knew what to expect, other than a load of bikers riding into Aberdeen to make a point. I was seemingly misinformed, as this year the point in question was not to request the use of bus lanes for motorcyclists (so much for grapevines!), but to bring to peoples' attention the placement of speed cameras.

On a personal note, I'm not bothered where the cameras are, because, call me righteous, or anything else you want, but I don't generally speed, at least not in built up areas. I don't know what it is, but exceeding the speed limit in towns makes me feel bad, gives me a sense of foreboding. OK, I might travel at 33mph in a 30mph, and we've all seen the adverts that say even as little as 3mph over can still kill, but never would I be so arrogant as to clock, say, sixty through my local village.

That's something that I feel quite strongly about actually (climbs on soapbox). I suppose it's the same south of the border, but round here many villages are built alongside main roads where the 60 limit prevails. Are not these people's lives of the same value as in 'real towns' where limits are substantially less? On a selfish note, I'm more scared to speed through these places on a bike, as I don't really want to end up as a road marking! Also, I think here in the north east of Scotland we are lucky enough not to be plagued with motorways, ring roads and Mr Plod lurking behind every wheelie-bin.

'What has this got to do with classic riders?' you might say. Well, many of you guys own some sort of machine which is capable of exceeding thirty, whether it's the beautiful Bonnie or the plastic rocket under the cover in the corner! I was hoping to see the older section of the biking world well represented by enthusiasts with their classic marques, but on wandering around the meeting point, I was disappointed to see the closest thing to a classic was a rusty old Suzuki which was so heavily laden with 'patina' and covered in mud I couldn't tell exactly what it was! Did I miss all you RealClassicists?

Spot the classic. Does the ZX10 on the left count? I'll get my coat.

The order of the day was thus; the demonstration run left Thainstone at 3.30pm, following a route along the A96 to Aberdeen. Once there, we parked up along Rubislaw Terrace -- rows upon rows of shiny bikes -- then made our way up Union Street before disbanding. Heading out of Inverurie I found it a little unnerving just gleely fleein' roon the roondabouts, which were blocked from the right by a luminous marshal and his/her bike. This soon became second nature though, and by the time we hit the town, I was used to being sandwiched by day-glo boy racers who didn't use their mirrors or their eyes. Many a time I got cut up by a clutch-slipping hoodlum, playing up to the wee boys and girls lining the flyovers on route.

While we were waiting for the signal to advance on Union Street, the grey clouds that had been lurking suddenly caught up and a light shower ensued. It wasn't enough to spoil things (although the short cobbled area was a little slippery, as were the London cobbles - did you see the marathon?) and the walking pace procession along Aberdeen's main street was very well received by the general public. People were filming us, taking snapshots for the holiday book, hooting horns and cheering. It was like being in a royal parade with police 'people' wearing yellow bibs and halting the traffic. Maybe we, as bikers, aren't so badly thought of after all.

Although I wasn't riding a classic, I was of course, on the best bike there - it was certainly the only MZ I saw! Next year I will have to go on the Cub. That sounds like a very bold statement and of course there's a little bit of work to do on it yet, but I'd like to go and represent the bikes of yesteryear, because after all, whatever these people at MAG are campaigning for, it'll more than likely be relevant to all motorised two wheelers.


Making a political point: is it irrelevant to classic riders? Discuss

A Z650 with poncey wheels and a Metmachex swinging arm, and an oldish GL1000/1100 Goldwing - Both classics in someone's book.

British Motorcyclists Federation Motorcycle Action Group


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