It’s late on Sunday night so first of all apologies for the late delivery of this column, however I have a very good reason for the delay. I’ve had my eyes opened this weekend which has shaken the bit of lethargy that was perhaps creeping in.
I’ve been to the Classic Road Racing and Off Road show organised by Alan Wright and held for the first time at the Telford International Centre and it would be fair to say that it’s been the best show day I’ve ever experienced.
Without being unkind to the classic scene, my personal interest has always been very limited. I’ve only once owned a classic bike, a Cub some 20 years ago (apart from the Cub I started on) and I kept it for only a short while, preferring instead new bikes of the era.
But I had the opportunity to go to the show on Saturday and it was absolutely fantastic! We arrived at 8.50am and didn’t leave until we were forcibly kicked out at closing time, and I still hadn’t seen everything I wanted to see nor had I spoken to everybody to whom I wanted to speak.
For a person of my age and time in the sport, there was simply too much to take in through one day and I was rushing here, there and everywhere, trying to get a look at everything, but inevitably I missed a load. And as for the folks to talk to. I met acquaintances I have not spoken with for over 30 years, as well as loads of good mates that I see relatively frequently.
Never having been to one of Wrighty’s exhibitions in the past (at Malvern) I had no idea what to expect, therefore had no measure of just how popular it was. There were superb restorations of bikes from immediately post war, right up to comparatively recent times, with everything in between. Obviously it was the trials scene that interested me the most and to see the fantastic job folks had done on Greeves, James, Dots, Francis Barnetts, right through Bultacos, Ossas and Montesas up to Beamish Suzukis was a delight to behold.
But not everything had been restored, there were restoration projects in progress and such projects to buy as well as a plethora of articles from absolute junk to quality kit to buy from the many stalls. But of course what’s junk to me may well be a long sought after part that could start or finish a restoration project.
And as for meeting and talking with folks, my throat was hoarse and dry come the end of the day, having spent so much time chatting to so many people.
But for those that were not there on Saturday, let me pass on the most pleasurable bit. Along with an enthusiastic gathering in the entrance hall, I delighted in listening to former Belgian World Motocross Champion Joel Robert. What an absolute star. He was a star in the 'sixties and he’s a star now and he told loads of tales in brilliant English that kept his audience enthralled. Of course, much of his racing was against our own ex-European Champion Dave Bickers and Joel said during his interview with Colin Dommett that he hadn’t met Dave for over 15 years. Wrighty picked up on that pretty quickly, found Dave and brought the two together for the first time for over 15 years. There were tears in their eyes and tears in mine as they hugged each other – it was an emotional moment and one that all who were there will cherish for many moons. Rivals on the track, they are great pals off the track and even now, as I type this, I’m filling up.
I would have liked to stay and spend Sunday at the show, but me and my pal had arranged to ride at The Old Mine, Kinlet for a Dudley MCC Midland Centre trial. Eye opener number two!
I had forgotten what it is like to ride in a really muddy Midland trial without a rock to be seen and if there are a thousand ways to shoot up and down muddy banks, over tree roots and across cambers, this trial had most of them in it. I lost more marks than I’ve lost in a trial for many moons, but it was absolutely great. Would I want to ride a trial like that every week? No, but occasionally is fine, and I thoroughly enjoyed Sunday’s offering, and as I write, I’ve no idea of my result, but I can bet that the locals who are used to such conditions gave us incomers a good thrashing.
So a really great weekend, and I can’t wait for the show next year.
Make sure you get to it, you won’t be disappointed.