There were two Norton’s, two Harley Davidsons, Two BSAs, an Ariel, a Velocette, a Suzuki with side car, a 500 single Yamaha, a Triumph, a Royal Enfield, and many other assorted makes, 18 bikes in total, all eager to start the 2015 VCC Motorbike rally on the 1st November.
The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot. The entrants came from all over, Waimate, Geraldine, Ashburton, Oamaru, and one lone entrant all the way from Milton.
Neil Manchester had mapped out a really great route, taking in all the good motorbike roads in the district.
We started out with the Time Trial which took us all out through Otipua, over Brassell’s Bridge, then down Pareora Flat Rd (very hard to keep your speed down on this long straight stretch) then along Sullivan’s Rd and back up Lyalldale Middle Rd, (this section almost caught out a few riders) then back down to Southburn to the Check point. (A really good test at maintaining your designated average speed).
From then on you could travel at your own pace, and knowing that we would be going through the Pareora Gorge meant that the fun ride was about to start! I have travelled this road many times as part of my test road when checking out vehicles and so I push the pace and caught and passed two other competitors.
The route took us up to Cannington and on through to Cave. We travelled down the Cave-Pleasant Point highway, and turned off to take us up the Cleland’s hill, (another great bike road) continued down the valley to Blacksmiths Corner. We then travelled up and over Gays Pass Rd (another great road), turned hard left, went down and over Hanging Rock Bridge. I had a quick toilet stop and changed the rally sheet to the next page. Neil had mentioned before the start that we would be travelling on a little bit of gravel on the route, and I knew that it would be in this next part. Good hard gravel but very corrugated and so we had to slow down and it was very dusty also.
Once we got on to the Geraldine-Fairlie highway it was a straight run into Geraldine and the Lunch stop at the Village Inn. It took a while before they all arrived and then the stories started to come out. One bike (no names) arrived on the trailer after they were forced to stop because the Fuel bowl on their bike had fallen apart and fuel was coming out everywhere. This earned him the Hard Luck Trophy!!!. Another rider loved the gravel section so much that he did another 9 miles on gravel before he ended up in a farmer’s paddock where they were baling hay. I asked him did he stop to give them a hand? He said that they had just finished, so I asked did he stop to have a beer with them? “No, I asked where I was, and was told to go back the way I had come.” another 9 miles of gravel, back to the correct road!
Lucky he arrived safe and we all had a good laugh!! After lunch the return route took us down Earl Rd and through Seven Sisters Rd and on through to Pleasant Point. We then turned off and travelled up Doake Rd and over Rolling Ridges Rd, back through to Rosewill Corner, down and along and up Kellands hill and into town.
All very straight forward but still a couple got a little lost, and had to turn back and pick the right road. Back at the Clubrooms there was a very welcome afternoon tea and a last chance to check out all the Bikes.
It was very pleasing to see the Chairman there with his recently repainted Harley Davidson Motorbike. He had the misfortune to have a foot board come loose on the rally, it didn’t slow him down, and it can be easily fixed. There was two Norton’s of similar years. A ES2 of 1954, being a 500 single in a single tube frame, and a 1953 Model 7 which is th next model being a 500 twin in the same frame. I happen to own the next model being a 1953 model 88, which is the 500 twin motor in the twin tube frame or Feather bed as it is better known. Both the ES2 and the Model 7 were in first class condition, and so the Concours trophy went again to Mr Patman for his ES2 Norton.
The winner overall was Percy from Ashburton riding his Royal Enfield which is also a very rare model. The rally was a great success and I think everyone really enjoyed themselves, I would like to thank Neil for organizing the rally, Shannon Stevenson for helping with the Time Trial and the Irving boys for being the backup vehicle. I hope to see you all next year, bring your mates and their bikes.
Regards, a Competitor