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8th August 2007


31st All British Rally, Newstead, Victoria, Australia
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A spot of rain, the odd tree crashing into the bar and a pair of broken exhaust pipes doesn't dampen Melbourne Metisse's enthusiasm for the annual ABR...

The BSAMOA of Victoria once again hosted its flagship event, the ABR at Newstead in central Victoria. The former racecourse site provides an ideal venue for this ever-popular event and did so again this year despite extensive cyclone damage to a number of the mature native trees that had suffered badly in the drought that has beleaguered Victoria this year.

Bewildered man in bush hat desperately seeking the bar.

One notable casualty unfortunately was the bar, which had been squarely hit by one of the falling trees, but the organisers were able to borrow a marquee from the local cricket club to ensure vital essential supplies were maintained. The upside of the tree damage was a copious supply of firewood and this proved to come in very handy as once again the ABR was blessed by traditional British weather i.e. it rained!

The gate prize. Nice. 1973 Triumph T100 Daytona. Go the rally, win this.

One of the popular attractions of the ABR is the gate prize draw for fully paid-up entrants. This year the lucky winner went home with a 1973 T100 Daytona, resplendent in glittering blue and silver metalflake paint. The new owner just needs a pair of platform boots to complete the ensemble!

Double take. The Carberry Enfield vee-twin won Best Special.

Undoubtedly another significant incentive is the extensive list of 36 trophy classes. However the BSAMOA does not place any store in over-polished restorations, with a refreshing insistence on any prizewinner having to be ridden to the event (with the obvious exception of the competition categories). There were routine inspections of the underside of mudguards! The trophies were, as ever, well supported by trade sponsors and BSAMOA PR officer Mike Poynter pulled off a couple of coups by signing Triumph Australia and local automotive insurance specialists, Shannons, as major new sponsors. Despite the profusion of classes there is already talk of new categories for ABR '08 to make the event even more inclusive.

1936 BSA Model Y13 1936 BSA Model Y13

Picking notable bikes from the hundreds that attended was immensely difficult and the standards of preparation were extremely high. My personal favourites were a 1937 Brough Superior outfit, 1927 Raleigh with a wonderful patina of use, the Douglas racer that won best rally bike and of course I must mention the winner of the class I sponsored because I was not only impressed by the pretty little Bantam off-roader but also by the obvious pride in ownership displayed by its 13 year old rider, Clancy Fraser.

Cracking colour, Clancy. Mobile Auto Hoses Best Off Roader - 13 year-old Clancy Fraser's gorgeous little plunger Bantam

My own attendance was not without its dramas - a broken exhaust near the mounting stub was temporarily repaired by Ray 'Sheriff' MacDonald (cheers Ray!). However Sheriff clearly doesn't know his own strength because he pushed so hard when drilling the pilot hole for the self-tapping screw that he snapped the sidestand! As there is no centrestand on the Métisse it made fuel stops interesting! About halfway to Newstead we hit heavy rain (the first in weeks) so not only did our immaculate bikes get covered in road muck, but also some of the less well-dressed riders got a thorough soaking.

Chris Large's TriXr. Winner of the Mobile Auto Hoses Best Off Roader in 2006. The TriXr has a Norton crank to give it 820cc. 820cc marriage of Triumph engine and Honda XR motocross chassis...

Sheriff suffered particularly badly - so much so that he was so cold on arrival at Newstead that he couldn't sign in as his hands were shaking so much! Clothes were borrowed from a variety of sources, while his own were dried out around one of the campfires. However the sight of 6ft tall Sheriff wearing dungaree-style overalls belonging to Richard 'Tiger' Cummins who is (politely) considerably shorter, was a joy to behold. Kent Shaun definitely has a competitor in the new Hillbilly stakes! Tiger reckons that he will be able to shoot a couple of possums for a new hat and then Sheriff will definitely earn his new nickname - Cletus!

Nice engineering, awful styling. A runner-up in the Best Offroad category, a beefy Weslake motor in what looks like a Seeley frame...

Needless to say the rain also encouraged my Métisse to exhibit another shakedown foible, as I had to repair a broken soldered coil wire beside the road just 5 minutes from the rally site. At this point I also noticed that the other exhaust had broken its weld but despite the cracks and having the coil wires just wound round the terminals and secured with insulating tape, she ran like a Swiss watch and returned a nearly 68mpg for the trip, bless her.

Chop or restore, that is the question... Nicely executed BSA bobber. I like the cut of the exhausts...

However I am clearly going to have to buy some new downpipes and look at how the whole exhaust is mounted so that the problems don't recur. In the meantime I have upgraded Sheriff's repair with spacer washers and exhaust sealant so that I can carry on riding. My other temporary bodge of putting some automatic transmission leak sealant into the forks has dramatically reduced the fork seal leakage, so this too will keep me mobile until a permanent repair can be affected.

From the sublime to the ridiculous? Matchless. Mostly. Bits Stuck Anywhere...

But neither the rain nor riding dramas (mine were extremely minor compared to the double punctures/broken primary drive and broken crankshafts that competed for the Hard Luck Award) could dampen either the wonderful ABR atmosphere or the ever-burgeoning attendance which comfortably hit 4 figures and exceeded last year's total. Most noticeable was a marked increase in family groups but most impressive of all were the happy smiling faces wherever you looked.

A BSA (not so) stationery engine-powered chopper. In the words of the great sage Basil Fawlty 'It's called style, my dear'

The BSAMOA certainly seems to have found a successful formula and this combined with outstanding organisation from president John Williams and his ever-willing volunteer committee surely means the ABR will go from strength to strength. Roll on ABR '08!

Random BSA single Stuff on eBay.co.uk

Basket full of Victoria Bitter. Of course. Ariel trike. UK plates & tax disc, Aussie beer in the basket. The first one I've ever seen running!

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