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25th October 2004


Crieff Rally

That BikerBabe gets about a bit. This time she partook of the VMCC's Regularity Run and Rally, collected a sprig of lucky heather and considered the correct dress code...

Good Crieff, is that how long ago it was? This work lark just gets in the way, doesn't it? Well it does for me, and it's only now that I've finally got around to sitting at the keyboard - at 11.30pm - dedicated or what?!

Anyway, cast your mind back to last summer, when I went to the Blairgowrie rally, and everyone told me I should have gone to the Crieff one the weekend before. So this year, I went to Crieff and... surprise surprise, they all said I should have gone to Blairgowrie.

For those of you who read about my travels to Perthshire last time, this is much and such the same, just 30 something miles down the road. For anyone who missed it, I'll give you a run down of what goes on at Crieff, then you'll know what happens at both of the rallies. Got it? Good!

Known to the regulars as the S&T (I think that stands for Strathearn and Tayside, but there was some confusion over this!), it is all about the mixing of like-minded classic bikers - although they may prefer to be referred to as motorcyclists... The majority of the participants arrive on the Friday night, from far and wide, some even trekking from as far as the south of England. Located in a caravan and camping park, it is the ideal location for folk to pitch their tents, settle down, and mentally prepare for the weekend ahead.

Jan and Ria from Holland with Jan's Tiger 90. RealClassic, Real'Tache

When I arrived on the scene late Sunday afternoon, I had, of course, missed most of the good stuff. I managed to find one of the organisers from the Stirling Castle section of the VMCC, Ellen Heatherington. She explained to me the rules of the Regularity Run which took place on Saturday morning, with the riders setting off at timed intervals, all aiming to arrive at checkpoints along the way at certain times. A lot of the people I spoke to said they started with good intentions, but many of them gave in at the first hurdle and simply admired the fabulous views along the route.

I caught up with one such couple, Jan on his Matchless G80, and Ria, who rides a very smart Tiger 90. They had travelled over from Maastricht in Holland, one of the reasons being to explore the beautiful Scottish countryside, and this event proved a good way to do it. As well as partaking of the Regularity Run on Saturday, they had, in fact, just arrived back from the social ride out, and thoroughly enjoyed that as well; even getting a puncture didn't flatten their spirits. They told me that in the coming week, they planned to see a bit more of the country by popping up to Orkney, and meandering down along the mountainous west coast - not for the faint-hearted at the best of times, I hope the landslides and floods didn't get them!

I knew that photo of a Horex that I took in 2002 would come in handy somewhere...

Completing the foreign contingent were Peter and Ellen from Weert, and I had a very interesting chat with them about their Horex, a motorcycle not often seen in the UK. At first glance, this German-made gem looks like it could be any 1950's British machine, and it's even got little wings sprouting from the badge, similar to the Matchless. Peter went on to say that the factory, like many of our home grown marques, went bankrupt in '57, despite its very good racing pedigree. Engine-wise, the bike is a single cylinder 4-stroke (much like my good old MZ). As for riding it round a strange country with undulating roads and poor mobile phone coverage, both Peter and Ellen say that it is 'very comfy and reliable'. Ellen should know as she gets to perch on the sprung (but incredibly uncomfortable looking) rear pad. For a bike that was restored about 20 years ago, and has covered 30,000 miles, it's still in immaculate condition, a credit to the owners.

While I was wandering around and mentally calculating the value of all the nice little multi-coloured tele tubby homes (or tents, to those of us who haven't had the pleasure of Tinky Winky and Co), there were many bikes that caught my eye, and sometimes the owners stood out, for whatever reason. I spotted a fine 1950 AJS 16MS, owned by a gentleman clad in a woolly jumper, with the VMCC logo embroidered on it. A tad warm perhaps for this type of clothing (I was too hot in just a T-shirt), but he was proudly promoting his club, and was a nice jolly character, telling me how he had wanted this particular bike since he was a lad. He finally purchased his dream machine in 1990 - I hope I don't have to wait quite that long for mine!

I then spied a beautiful BSA, ex-war department and still dressed in the appropriate colours, and bearing a sprig of lucky heather, given to all participants at the start of the rally. Owner Martin Tuer visits Scotland quite a bit from his home in Kendell, mainly to follow off road events; instead of stumbling round over hill and dale, he chugs along on the BSA. Cheat!

Do you ever get the feeling you should know who someone is, but can't quite place them? That was what happened when a guy tapped me on the shoulder and said 'are you Ivor's mate?' Working through the typical elimination process, we concluded that I'd previously met George Smart at a Jampot do, and today, as then, he was showing off his smart 1959 Matchless G3LS, which was originally black, but he felt that as he'd already rebuilt two black bikes, he'd had enough of the dark side. 'I got fed up with black, so I decided to have a change and go for white.' All I can say is that it is one sparkling paint job!

Ian Robertson's 1980 Guzzi V50 was bought as a basketcase

Next to nearly run me over was a lad on a 1980 Moto Guzzi, who came skidding into the parking area, sporting Biggles goggles. One of the few local riders that I met, he hails from Edinburgh. As owner Ian was giving me the gen on his V50, he laughingly said that when he bought it about eight years ago it was a basketcase, and many of his friends thought he was one too.

So, would I recommend the Crieff rally to anyone? Yes, I think it's well worth the effort, even if you live quite a long way away. But bear in mind, entries are usually limited to about 100. (This is so the hungry bikers don't cause a ruckus at feeding times!) And talking of food, on the Saturday evening, all participants are invited to attend a meal at the local rugby club, which is also when the prizes are dished out to the regularity conquerors. I'll have to dig out my best frock for next year then…oops, don't actually own a frock!

Guzzi V50 stuff on eBay.co.uk

George Smart's 1959 Matchless G3LS has been washed more than once in Persil.

Ayone got a spare frock?


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