the 16th June 2006 dawned with the sun shining and the temperature
starting at a respectable 15°C, and with it forecast to climb into the
upper 20’s. What a brilliant start for the 158 mile ride to this years
National Rally at the Winnington Park Rugby Club, Northwich, Cheshire.
confirmed with John Kennedy what time he was planning to leave, and agreed
to meet up with him at our usual meeting point of the BP fuel station on the
A419 at between 09:30–09:45, and so it was that with the old Jawa
up with all my camping equipment I set off for the meeting point. I arrived
before John and parked up, but in no time at all he rolled up with his Jawa - Velorex 700 sidecar outfit loaded to the gunnels with equipment. John was
certainly not travelling light, and as I was to see later he believes in
camping in real style.
Jawa motorbike loaded up ready for the journey
we were in no hurry John lead us on a route, which cut out all motorway use,
so first it was up to Gloucester, then on the A417 to Ledbury and Leominster
before joining the A49 up to Ludlow, Church Stretton and Shrewsbury. We
stopped for a coffee break at a roadside American Style diner, before
continuing our journey up the A48 to Whitchurch before eventually arriving
at the A556 turn off to Northwich. We both pulled in for a fuel top up, and
I was amazed to find that I only needed 9.6 litres. Not bad for having
covered nearly 150 miles. John’s motorbike I believe took about 14 litres, but
then he was hauling a heavily laden sidecar, and even with his lower gearing
he had kept up a steady 50 – 55 mph. He really does know how to handle a
Northwich and we were soon entering the Rugby Club site to be greeted by a
large number of tents already set up. It had taken (with the stop) 4˝ hours
to cover the journey, which really was quite respectable considering we had
not used any motorways.
Kennedy enjoying the sunshine
arrival was greeted by several old friends who were seated around the
control tent; it was then off to the other side of the campsite to erect our
tents. With the sun warm and with only the gentlest of breezes the tents
were quickly up and with my gear thrown into my tent I looked over at John
to see his tent was immaculately tidy with camp bed, neat quilt, chair, neat
cooking arrangement and even a coffee percolator!! There he sat with his
white shirt, cravat and hat – looking the immaculate gentleman. Pity the
same couldn’t be said about me.
the afternoon progressed more and more rally-ests arrived on a variety of
Jawa and CZ motorcycles and the camp site gradually was filling up, and it was
nice to just walk around chatting and looking at the various bikes.
evening saw the clubhouse open up for drinks and for meals. Unlike other
rugby clubs we’ve been too in the past the catering for this event was
hired in from a private company, and I do have to say that the choice of
available meals was poor (although what there was, was very tasty) and the
prices were in my opinion higher than we would normally have expected. Still
that aside, the rugby venue was exceptionally good.
evening saw many in the club house bar (where I did go for a while) while
others sat outside around their tents sipping their own supply of beers,
ciders and wine in the cooling evening air. I really do like this time as it
is a time to catch up with old and new friends a like just what they have
been up to during the past winter months. By 23:30 I was so tired that it
was then time for me to go off to my warm sleeping bag.
I don’t usually sleep too well the first night of camping, but I must have
been really tired as except for a short break in sleep at about 02:30 I
slept right through till after 07:00. Saturday dawned with the sun streaming
through the tent and warming it up nicely, it looked like another warm fine
day. Scrambling through the pile of items in my tent I managed to find my
gas stove and the loaf of bread I had brought with me. It was now that I
found out that even though I had a full cylinder of gar for some reason I
couldn’t get it to work. Now I know it was old and the top had rust on it,
but otherwise it did look OK. However even despite the efforts on Tom Soffe
and myself there was no way I could get it to work. Luckily I did have
another half filled cylinder, which did work, so I was able to make some
toast and a welcome cup of tea.
was an organised run out starting at 11:00 to the Jodrell Bank Radio
Telescope and observatory, although I decided to go into Northwich to get
another gas cylinder and to then go and see the Anderton Boat Lift on
the Trent and Mersey canal. This was the first lift of its type in the world
and has been totally restored back to full working order. Being an engineer
myself this really was of more interest to myself and I really enjoyed the
visit including actually watching it work.
at the site more had arrived and I believe that in the end the number booked
in was about one hundred, and with the run-out riders returning at about
14:30 the site looked really impressive with tents and bikes everywhere.
the Saturday afternoon of our rallies sees the customary riding skill events
and silly games, although this year due to some Public Liability insurance
exclusions we were unable to run them. This really was a great shame as it
is usually these events that bring everyone together, and also produce some
light-hearted moments. Still hopefully we can reintroduce the events next
Kinnish and John Woods Military Jawa's
the afternoon temperature now well into the upper 20’s I just sat in one
of John’s chairs (yes he did carry more than one) with a few drinks and
just relaxed and watched what was going on in other areas of the site. At
teatime John showed his catering prowess by rustling me up a nice meal of
eggs, bacon and beans washed down with cups of coffee.
saw food again being served in the clubhouse, and I believe the prices were
now better than the Friday evening (perhaps they had got the message) whilst
by 19.30 everyone had retired to the main clubhouse for the prize giving
ceremony and for the enormous raffle. In the prize giving John’s combo won
an award whilst my old Jawa (due to some vote rigging which would have done
credit to the old Soviet politburo) got 3rd place in the ‘Grot
Bike’ award. I think it was a wind up from some of my old friends,
although as usual Andy Read did win the actual award with his spectacularly
grotty Jawa combo. Bob also won the best under 10-year-old bike award with
his 26-year-old Jawa – work that one out! In the raffle there were dozens
of prizes and some were really good, however despite all this I only won one
small item, although Bob did quite well as did a few others.
me the rest of the evening was again spent out in the main campsite,
chatting and generally just enjoying the atmosphere and relaxing, and again
by 23:30 I was ready for my bed and another good nights sleep.
about 06:15 I woke to the sound of a gas stove burner, and on poking my head
out of the tent, John was brewing himself some tea ready for his breakfast.
Even at that early hour of the morning it was obvious that a few of the
early risers were already packing away their gear, and by 07:30 a number had
already left for their ride home. John started to load his combo’, and
soon Tom Soffe and his daughter were also packing away. It took me a little
longer, but John was on his way by approximately 08:10 with Tom leaving at
about 08:45. Tom and Claire had quite a trip back to Newbury as not only
were they two up on a CZ 175cc, but they were also towing their PAV 41
trailer, so were not able to maintain a reasonably high speed. I had fully
packed away and I too was on my way by 08:50, but unlike John and Tom, I
decided to head for the M6 motorway and to
home in the quickest way.
M6 and subsequent M5 were very busy but the old Jawa was easily able to keep
up a cruising speed of 55 to 60mph, and after covering about 100 miles I
turned off into one of the M5 Service areas only to find John already there.
He had travelled down ‘A’ roads until south of Birmingham where he too
had then joined the motorway network. After a short stop we both set off
together and I have to say how impressed I was with Johns bike as even
though he was fully loaded he was able to maintain a steady 60mph all the
way down the motorway, and even on the duel carriage way (A417 & A419)
from Gloucester back to Swindon.
& Claire - Rallying can be so tiring!!!
said our farewells at Blunsdon, where John headed home to Highworth where I
carried on to Swindon where once home I unloaded the bike, put the tent and
sleeping bag out in the garden to air, and had a nice cool cider.
was a really enjoyable weekend, and I would like to especially thank Sandy
and Mally Morgan for their entire excellent organisation, you both really
are stars. To all members who I met and chatted too, it was great seeing you
all again, and I hope it won’t be another year before I see you all again.
is the 30th Anniversary of the formation of the Swindon &
District Branch, and all being well our Branch hope to host next years
rally. More details will come later, but I just hope we can put on an event
as good as the one Sandy and Mally had organised.
From Swindon Smoke Signals – with thanks.
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