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22nd September 2006


The Mearns Meander

BikerBabe joins the Scottish Classic Club on their annual ride-around, and finds herself a-swimming weeth the feeshes...

Swimming is great. So is biking. But not at the same time. For that is what happened when I set off to attend the Scottish Classic MCC annual ride out. Admittedly the forecast for the Brechin area was for thunder and heavy showers, but when does the Met Office ever get it right?

Approaching Aberdeen I spotted a bolt of lightning, then it started to rain and quite frankly, it didn't stop until I was completely and thoroughly drenched. The staff in the petrol station where I stopped to shelter and fill up (I know, I know, maybe not the best place) were terrified as the lights flickered off and on as the storm hung about directly overhead.

The rain eased ever so slightly so I set off south, only to ride into the next lot of precipitation. My leather trousers did reasonably well until I had to stop and dismount to remove my dark visor. Sitting back on the bike was like hopping into a cold bath, fully clothed.

Organiser John Hyman prepares his 850 Commando for the off (note the distinct lack of rain)

Still, enough of my whinging and onto the great ride out. John Hyman is one of the head honchos and he claims that I asked if he had any spare underwear when I arrived at the Northern Hotel in the centre of Brechin. I'm claiming hypothermia as my excuse.

A small entry fee of £12 was prized from my frozen paws when I signed in, and that entitled me to a rally pack complete with route directions, and a hot meal upon my return to the hotel at the end of the day. I knew roughly what to expect from the run as I'd been to the club's Fife Foray last year - they change the name and venue each time, which is brave but seems to work. John told me they had 45 entrants with machinery ranging from chops to classics - there was even a small selection of sports bikes willing to tag along and pay their dues.

The Ariel Leader was well represented with Jerry Swinley from Carnoustie on his 1960 model, and Willy McLuckie, also from golf country, on his 1959 bike. The Leader is a rather attractive little bike, and they do have a certain appeal for wet weather riding.

Willy McLuckie and his 1959 Ariel Leader. Let out for good behaviour?
Random Ariel Stuff on eBay.co.uk

The route this year was entitled the Mearns Meander, and was selected by a couple of fairly new members to the club, Fiona and Gavin Thomson, and I have to say it was pretty darn good. Leaving Brechin we headed out to the wild country and poddled round some small back lanes for a few miles. I'm not entirely sure of the exact roads and numbers that we followed for I was merely Steve Clark's pillion aboard his 1953 Sunbeam (complete with period indicators that really wind the concours enthusiasts up) but I can tell you that the Cairn O Mount suddenly appeared from the mist and rain, and then I knew where I was. Most people couldn't resist stopping at the viewpoint, but this being one of Steve's local roads, we carried on and had a pretty good run over the top and down into Stonehaven via the Slug road.

Steve Clarke's Sunbeam. And did I mention it rained a wee bit?

More heavy rain coincided with our half way-ish stop at 'Stonie', as we call it, so we parked up in the square and nipped into the nearest pub to dry out. The barmaid was, shall we say, downright scary, as were the rest of the clientele, and I found out later we had actually gone to the wrong pub…

Thinking of the ease with which Steve piloted the Sunbeam around on the cold and wet roads, I found it quite amusing to hear some of the plastic rocket riders comparing notes on how much they kept 'losing it', but then I do have a bit of an evil sense of humour, so I'm told.

Steve Gourdie with his lovely green 1958 Shooting Star
Random Shooting Star Stuff on eBay.co.uk

The route back took us out to the east coast, which I don't think was the official plan, but I was getting hypothermic again and Steve probably wanted a nice warming pint so we went the most direct way. We arrived first at the Northern Hotel so had a while to wait for the steaming hot food to be dished up. The usual banter accompanied the meal, and as the skies darkened (for the umpteenth time that day) John got the prize-giving ceremony and raffle underway.

Chauffer Steve won some silverware, as did Sandy Webster with his T120, and I think, if memory serves correctly, Kate Skillen stole two prizes for her classic Honda, including the Best Japanese class. I only managed to note down first names for the remaining two winners as John sped through the list, but I'd better give them a mention. Gordon won a pot for his GS1000, and Bruce was awarded first place in the Special category with his CB750 chop - you should have seen that. It's an acquired taste, but nice none the less.

[FX: Last of the Summer Wine theme tune]

The SCMC club meet regularly at Glencarse, about 40 miles away from Brechin, and although many of the entrants were local club members, some hardy folk, like Les North, made the trek from Motherwell and that general area.

All that remains is for me to thank Steve for the lift, and the club for putting on a great swim -- I mean ride out! I suggest you put a note in your diary for next year and pop along to meet the guys and girls, it's a good 'un.


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