I went on (or rather, to... ) the Antler Rally in 1974. Finished work at 5 o'clock on Friday in Chester, hurtled off home and swallowed some tea and was off to pick up my girlfriend in Liverpool. I'd borrowed a tent off my mate (one we'd taken to Rome earlier that year,) lashed a pair of panniers and a luggage and top box to the Trident which didn't leave much room for us...
We left Liverpool on the East Lancs and soon picked up the M6 heading north at a rate of knots. It was raining all the way up the M6 and we were in Carlisle looking for somewhere to eat and maybe lodge by about 9:30. All out of luck, we eventually set up the tent in a field at Eaglesfield near Lockerbie at some ungodly hour. Didn't get much sleep, even though we were both knackered. Can't remember what we ate but we were ready for breakfast next morning...
Going through Glasgow I was a bit concerned that we were aboard an orange Trident and my girlfriend was wearing an orange waterproof suit. Although I don't follow football I think Celtic were playing Rangers that day (15th Sept - got a rollocking off my sister for missing her birthday... !) but the first I knew of it was when a brick came across in front of my face! I remember we were following a bus and the side window of the top deck suddenly erupted. One guy was hanging out of the window backwards while another was busily punching him - a van load of police boarded the bus at that point so I made my departure a bit quickly!
Caught the ferry at Ballaculish, then another at Corran not long afterwards - stopped for something to eat or drink at the little pub the other side of the ferry and went on our merry way.
The roads were... interesting. Single trackers with passing places - luckily not much coming the other way! I really got into the groove down there - it was dark by then and I was playing tunes on the gearbox. That Trident (1971 job with ray-gun silencers) really could howl and indeed howled that night. The corners were so close together that I was flicking between high and low beam like a strobe light just to see a bit around the corners. Fair play to my girlfriend, she was the best pillion I've ever ridden with; she knew just when to shift her weight to get the best out of the bike and the corner. So many people just sit there like a sack of spuds but her style was uncanny - particularly as she'd never ridden a bike herself.
That road just went on and on. No idea how far it was to the rally or how long it took but we eventually got there. It had been raining all the way (or so it seems 40 years on... ) and when we got there the field was a swamp. We dropped in at the pub, then decided to look for B&B rather than struggle to put up a tent in a muddy field - we were both wrecked anyway. I think the landlord at the pub told us about a B&B a few miles away so we went there. The nice lady said we were too late for a meal so she made us a plate of sandwiches instead. Slept really well that night...
Next morning the Trident was being sulky and wouldn't start on the kickstart so I rolled it down a steep hill and bumped it. I remember thinking that if it wouldn't start I was in for a hard push back up... I left my girl friend at the B&B while I went for petrol and afterwards we went back to the rally field and got our badges. We'd taken the coward's way out but the organisers were very nice about it and let us have the badges anyway.
The return journey was unevenful until the big ends started rattling somewhere around Penrith in the small hours of Monday morning. I stopped to check the oil etc but it was OK so I let the bike cool down and nursed it home.
My girlfriend and I split up later that year (nothing to do with the trip) and I PX-ed the Trident against a brand new one the following January, having had the crank reground and rebuilt the engine. I had it 3 weeks and put 900 miles on the clock until some unspeakable person stole it at the Belle Vue bike show in Manchester.
- Clive Adams
Must have been 1974 or 73 and, like Clive, I was from Chester but left from Elesemere Port with Steve Reay and our wives on a brace of Commandoes.
- Andy Davidson