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29th September 2005

BSAOC International Rally 2005 - Part 1 of 2

The Chuffing Chariot crosses the sea with Shaun (the Kent Correspondent) at the controls... Were the Danes prepared for Shaun and an M21 outfit?

Janette, my long suffering wife, kept moaning about how she couldn't see anything whenever we ventured out on the A10, what with me being a tad on the large size and all. So we thought we'd give a sidecar a go. I'd fancied an outfit for a while and - now she agreed - there was no stopping me. I found just the thing in the form of a 1955 BSA M21 coupled to a Watsonian Palma.

The bike belonged to a chap I've known for years. He, like me, is a member of the BSAOC Kent branch. He was selling the bike because, with age, steering an outfit was causing him pain. The deal was done and the bike came home with me, Janette saying that it was hers!

Shaun (on the pillion) and his support crew. Probably.

I gave it a good shakedown with a few rides to BSA camps and events. The bike was performing well and I gained confidence in piloting a chariot. Left-handers take a bit more concentration, what with having to open the throttle and not touch the brakes -- it had Janette screaming a few times when the wheel left the ground! But as the miles increased so our confidence grew.

Our first trip abroad started with disaster. The engine blew up! Then I had electrical problems and other mishaps so we never actually made it to Belgium and the MTO rally held in Ostend. Over the course of time the bike was fettled and a new engine sourced. A rewire and a few more miles saw the bike in a fit enough state to venture across the sea once more.

In the meanwhile I discovered that, in America, the M21 model was sold as the Commander. '37 cubic inches of raw power' said an advert in an old WalMart. What more excuse did I need to take the mighty Commander to foreign lands?

A sign of the times.I decided to go to the BSAOC Danish International Rally, what with it being held in Denmark. I worked there for a few years, back in the dark days when there were no bikes in the shed. I remember the happy times as I saw bikes going to different rallies -- and me stuck at the wheel of a truck, wishing... Now it was MY turn, so I filled out the booking form in the club's magazine, The Star, and waited for the day to arrive…

After loading the bike up with various implements of destruction, my wife and I went to bed. Next day saw us bimbling along to Dartford and a waiting BP petrol station, to meet other BSA Kentish-type people.

Two A10s and an A65 joined my M21 in chuffing along the A12, towards the waiting ship at Harwich. Yes, we could've gone to Dover and ridden up from Calais, but the Esbjerg route was easy and the ship was full with BSA people.

So our party started as soon as we reached Harwich -- once at the dock we found a pub called the Bell Inn. There we had a visit from an American BSA chap, touring England on his Gold Star, Ron is his name and he's known as Gold Star Ron. Various other BSA people met up for a last pint of proper Sporran and then we left for the boat.

Random M21 Stuff on

No, I havent' got a clue either.There seemed to be hundreds of BSAs and old bikes waiting for the same ferry. Turned out that the Vincent club and the Triumph club had their rallies just up the road from ours. I think there were 89 bikes on board! So the crew were a bit perplexed and left us to strap our own bikes down.

That done we found our cabin and showered. Then it was time for the bar; what with it being an 18-hour crossing we needed a drink to pass the time. At around midnight we passed some oil rigs, I know that our Humbernut himself works on one, so I went outside to wave at him. Couldn't see him waving back…

We asked some other rally-goers if we could follow them to the rally. No problem said they, we'll all turn LEFT when we leave the ferry.

Off the ferry we got and we turned… RIGHT.

Don't ask me; I was following the bloke in front! All very strange. Then as we approached the first roundabout I noticed BSAs coming in from all directions. Our group chose to go our own way, and we chose the coast road on our map (the road was called the Holmsland Klit, a name which caused a lot of merriment!).

Thumping up the Klit proved extremely tiring. With a fully freighted M21 and a full-in-the-face headwind, we could only manage 30mph. (Due to solo gearing, I later found out). Stopping at Hvide Sande for food and a drink, we decided to head inland to get away from the wind. Once we were away from the coast the speed increased to a heady 50mph.

Janette, in chair: 'Can I get out yet?'

Part two on the way soon…


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