The Coventry Antelope Motor Cycle Club Limited last week once again proved that they can organise the best camping rally in this country. This club (who have a board of directors as well as a committee) have a membership of near four hundred and for the past eight years have been housed in their own two story brick built licenced club in the centre of Coventry.
For the past three years the Antelope Rally has been strictly invitation only with the bulk of the invites going to continentals, but this year something went wrong and the rally dates and details were leaked to the bike press resulting in many British and Continental riders turning up uninvited and unexpected. But I didn't see anyone refused and although things got a bit hectic when the coaches turned up to ferry us the three miles from the campsite to the disco on the Saturday night, there was no trouble or damage.
Dave Hill, Shirley, Sheila and myself received invites and rode down to Coventry on Friday night. After booking in and collecting our 50p shaped badges from the clubhouse we were led by a Suzi 500 and a two-up 200 Yam to the campsite which was close to the Post House Motel on the A45 Birmingham road. The tents were quickly erected and we were led back to the club where we sank a pint before Sheila and I left to ride home (I had to go to work on Saturday) and Dave and Shirley returned to the site.
On Saturday night Sheila was staying at her mum's house and I had arranged to take Steve White over to the rally for the remainder of the weekend. We arrived just after six and joined the other two in the queue for the coaches. Well actually it wasn't really a queue, more of a crowd from rent-a-picket at Leylands. Eventually we arrived at the clubhouse and joined another disorganised rabble at the bar in the disco. The evening was spent getting pleasantly drunk in company with old and new friends. While drinking in the downstairs bar I turned round to find Percy Tait enjoying a pint before presenting the prizes in the disco. I asked for his autograph and he obliged on my M.O.T. certificate. The bar staff deserve a special mention for never losing their cool even though most of the foreigners could speak little English end went into little discussive groups while ordering.
Eventually though it was time to return to the site and we caught one of the last buses back and for Steve and myself it was straight to bed, but Dave and Shirley were struggling to repatriate a very drunk Antelope member from a group of equally drunk French lads who were playing finders-keepers. Eventually Dave's tent turned into a guesthouse because the drunk lads friends turned up as well. They hadn't intended camping but had had too much to drink.
On Sunday morning we awoke to gentle mayhem as breakfasts were loaded, bikes were eaten and tents revved up. Shirley was saved having to cook breakfast for us all by an Antelope Committee member who invited us to a free breakfast at the Melford Hotel which just happened to belong to their club President. After a very welcome meal a handful of us were talked into riding over to the club to help clean up. The place was soon looking respectable again once we got things organised (he says modestly) and we hung around until opening time and had a chat and a drink with some of the rally organisers before collecting our camping kit and returning home.
We were so impressed with the Antelope Club that we applied for membership. As the clubhouse is open 7 days a week it's an ideal social club and the Events Sec said they would be pleased to lay on a disco and darts match etc if the Phoenix fancied a social evening together.