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10th March 2008


BSAOC International Rally - Part 2
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This year, you can join the BSA Owners’ Club on the Isle of Man. Shaun remembers an earlier International Rally which took him to the USA...

The story so far: the party of Brits have met up with Lannis, who has organised a selection of BSAs for them all to ride. So now the gaggle ride to the rally aboard an M21, B441 Victor, Lightning, Rocket 3 and Firebird…

The weather was hot and humid, and we had to stop to replenish our water supply and feed our bodies. Jet lag was taking its toll and so too was BSA lag, so we decided to book into another motel (after all, it IS the American way and motels are quite cheap over there). We found the sort of place you’d book for an hour at a time (know what I mean? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink) but we were tired and weary and it was sort of clean. There was a restaurant next door where we found Cal Stoerzinger (828-7857) who is an Elvis impersonator. Like all Elvis impersonators he was rubbish: so rubbish that he was great! Talking with the waitress we found out that a couple from the South Derbyshire BSAOC branch had stayed there the night before. how’s that for a small world?

'My names is Earl...'

Next day we continued towards the Rally at Brimfield, Massachusetts, but first we had to negotiate Springfield, with its traffic lights and busy streets. Not once did I see Bart or Homer. Seems most towns in the USA have a Springfield and the Simpsons must live somewhere else?

No matter where you go, there's always a fat bloke with a camera...

We finally pulled into the Rally site after covering just over 600 miles; already Mike and I felt we’d had an adventure. We were greeted with hearty hand shakes and hellos. Everyone at the rally wanted to ask how our trip was. It took at least five hours to walk 400 yards to our caravan, we couldn’t go more that five steps without people coming up to talk with us. What a fantastic welcome and a great start to a rally. Plus, we had a week of luxury in an air-conditioned caravan. There was me thinking we’d be in a tent. I wager that Lannis had something to do with this, but I’m not complaining, and neither was Mike.

Once settled we wandered around to familiarise ourselves with the site. I came across the ‘Hill Billy Convention Centre’ and met up with Tarvin, Bonzo, Carin, Rich, and people I had only spoken with via the computer. Rich was boiling up some cooking oil on a fire ring, then he got a turkey and dunked it in. 50 minutes later the 14lb bird was cooked to perfection, and I had my first ever taste of deep-fried turkey. It was beautiful, moist and not fatty as you would expect.

No matter where you go, there's always a fat bloke with a deep-fried trukey...

Later in the evening Tarvin got his pie irons out to cook us up some ‘Parns’ a sort of toasty, and offered me first taste; that too was wonderful. I was in for some good camp cooking. The fire was simply a lorry wheel with the middle cut away so the fire was contained in a nice safe place. The logs came from the vast amount of trees around the area; people were selling bundles of ‘camp fire logs’ as a sort of cottage industry. Before long it was time for bed -- well it was about 03.00 in the morning!

BSA B44 stuff on eBay.co.uk

Next day the warm sunshine woke us and we left for the official opening at Old Sturbridge Village, a place not unlike the Black Country Museum, where the old houses and buildings of the past are reconstructed and fitted out as they would have been, way-back-when. About 300 BSAs were lined up for the panoramic official photograph, but when we found out it was $50 for the picture we just stayed with our own photos and memories.

Is that a Honda CD175 hiding in the line-up?

Spending the day mooching around the museum made for a nice relaxing day out, which finished back at the rally site. The party moved to the long sheds which had tables and chairs and a FREE bar. Music was provided and friendships were made that night.

Next day we left for a ride to a very picturesque lake and a swim. The cool water was just the thing as the heat of the day was getting a tad overpowering. A very nice packed lunch was provided and once again we made some new friends. Everyone seemed very pleasant and friendly; you couldn’t sit on your own for very long before someone came over to chat; a really great way to meet new people. After our swim we went for a short ride to an American ice cream parlour, and blow me if we didn’t bump into a New Zealand BSA owner there! He took the opportunity to advertise their BSA Rally in 2010…

After a night on the FREE local ale and a good sleep, t’was the trip to the Injun Casino at Foxwoods, where Mike and I managed to keep hold of $100 for just 25 minutes. One of our party managed to increase her purse to the sum of $2000, so I guess we were just unlucky? (Although she reported losing $700 the very next day). I was amazed at the old people sitting at the slot machines, losing their grandchildren’s inheritance. It was a good day out but not something I’d like to do too often: my money is for spending on motorcycles and not for watching flashing lights.

Note racoon skin hat, reclining on handlebars...

Back at the camp it turned out to be a special night. A while back I’d asked Lannis if he could get me a nice new rally hat. A special rally hat, not a baseball cap. As we sat round the fire ring, drinking ale, I got my wish. All done in the best possible taste, I was awarded a genuine racoon skin hat!

We also decided that night to call the M21 by its American name, the BSA Commander. But wait -- shouldn’t it be a Hard Tail, Flat Top BSA Commander with 37 cubic inches of raw power? And so another night drew to a close…

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Next time: the Smith & Wesson factory, tall tales about broken cranks, riding to Niagara Falls, the Ohio BSA Rally and more…

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The 45th BSA Owners’ Club International Rally will celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary and takes place on the Isle of Man from 16th to 23rd August 2008. BSA enthusiasts are encouraged to join the club now and come along to the BSA event of the year, where you can meet club members from around the world. Special ferry and accomodation packages are available if you book early. See www.bsaoc.demon.co.uk


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