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14th July 2006

The VMCC Jubilee Relay Rally

At opposite ends of the UK, BikerBabe and Rowena met up with VMCC members carrying the best wishes of the club all around the country. Better weather in Scotland than in Cornwall, it seems...

The plan was to meet at Banchory at around 9.30 on a Wednesday morning for our leg of the VMCC's Diamond Jubilee Relay Rally. A baton, representing the best wishes of VMCC HQ and founder Titch Allen, left Allen House on April 30th 2006 to travel the entire country and finish at the Festival of 1000 Bikes. I was joining the Scottish leg but was a little late having forgotten just how far it is from Turriff, despite having been there only a few days previously.

From left to right Mark, Tom, Stan, Mick, Allan, then 4 chaps from the Stirling section

Still, no matter as Mark Ovall rolled up after me and there was still no sign of Tony Mortishire. Mark brought news that Tony's Dommie had thrown a wobbly so he had decided to limp home and get on with some DIY. Tom Wemyss can always be relied upon to lead a run so he set off on his old Beemer, followed closely by Mark on his A7SS then Alan Griggs on his Velo. Mick Elstone hung a little way back on his Velo Thruxton while I got the job of back marker on my not-quite-classic MZ Skorpion (complete with accessories like lights and indicators...).

Heading out of Banchory, onto what locals call the Slug Road, we enjoyed beautiful scenery and chilly sunshine. The route that Tony had planned took us over the Cairn O' Mount, and down into Fettercairn. All the bikes seemed to be running well as we continued threading our way through some great twisty bits of highway to Edzell, then by Kirriemuir. This appears to be the town of one-way cobbled streets and it's a miracle as to how Tom found the Russaka Café, location of the baton handover.

Waiting patiently for us were half a dozen members of the Central Scotland Section, including Chairman Stan Williamson. With the baton in our possession an ice cream break was called for but I missed it as local newspaper, the Press and Journal, picked that most inopportune moment to phone me. I suppose I mustn't grumble as they did a nice report on the baton rally for us.

With a new leader from Stan's section we were to be escorted first west, then northwards. Bill West on his 1953 Ariel NH sped off but then maintained a perfect pace suitable for everyone. The B951 has to be a highly recommended road with scenery nearly as good as we have in the Aberdeenshire, and a rollacoaster of twists and turns. By now it was warm enough for the summer gear I had optimistically chosen, and lounging around at the lunch stop at Spittal of Glenshee we all thought; 'this is the life'. The food there deserves a mention; very reasonably priced and huge portions. Not good for anyone watching their weight though!

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Yes, that is snow in the distance

After the Spittle it was on to Scotland's very own Devils Elbow and up the A93 to Braemar. I nipped ahead to get some photos of the boys with their knees down but they wouldn't oblige. By Braemar it was absolutely roasting and while the guys refreshed with coffee I eventually got my ice cream - thanks Mark. It was here that we were finally entrusted to look after the baton on our own and, following the main route east back to Aberdeen, we fell in behind Tom again. Ballater passed by, then Aboyne and Banchory. Then I had the wonderful company of a chap in a red Toyota who had no regard for the rally badge on the back of my bike, the speed limits or anybody's safety. To describe my thoughts of him would be unladylike so I'll simply say I waved politely when he eventually turned off.

Sunshine at Drum Castle...

Arriving some 15 minutes late at Drum Castle, just west of Aberdeen for the photo-shoot with the P&J, we were met by another section member Bob Prodger. It was to be his job to ferry the turned oak spindle onwards and northwards the following day to the Highland Section.

So for my first experience of VMCCing I'd like to say what a pleasure it was, and one day, I will be out there on the Cub, holding up red Toyotas.


Meanwhile, the Cornish RC Crew met up with the VMCCers at the handover of the baton between Devon and Cornwall sections (dashing Devonians are on the left, Cornish chaps on the right). This handover took place on the Cornish border at the Tamar Lake; very nice tea room with staff who obligingly opened at 8am to serve us and who seemed quite pleased by the turnout of a couple of dozen classics.

...gloom at mist on the Cornish border.

The day was misty and moist, and not entirely the best sort of weather for riding an old bike down to Lands End - but the VMCC chaps didn't seem to mind. The baton was later flown over to the Scilly Isles, then scooted around the Lizard the next day to be delivered back to the Devon section in Plymouth. By now it will be back where it started…

…but it was a good excuse for a ride!


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