24th May 2007
Why enjoy a single classic biking event when you can fit two into one weekend? BikerBabe takes in a Scottish pre-65 trial and gets blown away at an MZ rally...
Every year on the May holiday weekend, otherwise sane men and women pilgrimage to Scotland from all over the UK, and even further flung land masses like Spain and Italy, to toss ancient motorcycles down the mountainside. Yes, Kinlochleven is the place to be for some pre-65 rock bouncing.BikerBabe's MZ Scorpion. Or MuZ Skorpion.
I was intending a leisurely jaunt over on my middle-aged MZ (yes, I've seen all the topics on the message board recently and I'm not rising to it, besides, my Skorpion isn't even a Real MZ), but with puppy and lamb-sitters to organise, it was late afternoon on the Friday before I was away. The weather was grey and down right dreich - that's miserable to you and me -- but the nearer I got to the west coast, the warmer it became, and don't you feel a right fool melting in winter clothing when everyone else is wearing sandals and tee shirts?
The action for day one was over by the time I arrived, so after managing to get Bill and Chris from the Grampian Classic Motorcycle Club to pitch the tent for me, dinner with Robin of Wales and his daughter, Tiny Mite, was the order of the evening. They're Real MZers, having ridding from Wales on a 250 outfit laden with palatial tent and kitchen sink. After a fine meal, a trip to the pub in the middle of town was called for. It is the place to lurk should you want to bump into some of the well known riders, or get your hands on the provisional results.
Running my eye down the list, Neil Gaunt had the enviable mark of 0, with Tony Calvert snapping at his heels having made only one mistake. Murray Whittaker from my local Bon Accord club had a good day, lying in 17th place with only five faults to his name, but no sign of our local hero, Bob Prodger. One chap had a few 10s for some sections, how can you get a 10; I thought 5 was the limit?
Anyway, day two brought more glorious sunshine, and although the talk was for a scorcher it actually turned out to be warm but not too hot. The odd trio of Robin of Wales, Tiny Mite and my good self planted our bottoms at section one, just a short walk from the start, or at least that's what some helpful chap told us. Several miles later, we arrived at the section which was a brisk flowing stream. There was nothing really complicated about it, if the riders could avoid the slippery boulders and low hanging branches, they'd be away; it looked easy, and I reckon I could do that if I had a suitable machine.Sarah Measures on a Francis Barnett
I always watch out for the lady competitors, because I think they're particularly brave to attempt the whole course, and this year there were quite a few. Victoria Glover came popping up the stream like it wasn't there, really looking the part on her 250 Sprite, but I felt quite sorry for Sarah Measures as she tried the same survival tactics to get her Francis-Barnett to the end as I did at the 'Spring Surprise Come and Kill Yourself on the Welsh Mountains Trial' a while back. All credit to her, she made it out of the water and received a round of applause for her efforts.
Coincidentally, on this same weekend, the MZ Riders' Club has their annual Scottish rally, usually on the West coast nearby. The plan was to watch the trial for a few hours and then head north to Fort William for lunch, and then on to Gairloch for the rally. We snacked in a Chinese restaurant and although the place was empty, they seated us in the furthest most hidden corner of the premises, which was quite funny; obviously that wasn't biker discrimination.
Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure the route we took was as follows - out to Spean Bridge, then alongside Loch Lochy to Invergarry, inland along the wonderfully sweeping A87 to Bun Loyne, sharp left to Shiel Bridge, followed by the twisty A890 all the way to Achnasheen. With another 30 or so miles still to go, I don't know about the other two but I was certainly ready for a huge plate of hot grub and a good night in the pub but the winding A832 had to be negotiated first.
As we got closer to Gairloch, the temperature dropped and a wild breeze kicked in. It was about 18:30 when we finally arrived at the seaside campsite, it was almost dark and the breeze had mutated into an angry tempest hurling sideways rain at us, so we rather hastily pitched our respective homes and headed for the pub. A quick bite to eat turned into a very late supper as the staff had to go and catch a cow to make Tiny Mite and me a burger. I guess the cow must have been hiding.
As usual the famous MZ raffle went down a storm, no pun intended, and there can't have been many people going home without a prize. Even I won something! I was hoping to use Sunday morning to go round and chat and take photographs but at 7am after weighing up the options of sitting the storm out or making a run for home, I heard people packing up and thought that was probably the best idea. One poor chap's tent had been ripped to shreds in the gales and many others suffered some kind of damage. I was lucky, and on inspection there was only one broken pole from the porch area.
With the rather inclement weather persevering all the way to Inverness, riding on the left side of the road was a little difficult, and with tyres the shape of house bricks, the MZ wasn't handling too well. Still, Inverness appeared and thank goodness for Tesco I say, where a hot breakfast and some petrol saved the day. The rest of the run home was slightly more pleasant, still the wind howled but at least it was sunny.
Full results of the trial can be found here:
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