Ides of March RallyLes Hobbs' report on the Ides Of March Rally in 1973, organised by Salford Centurians M.C.C. and held in the Colne Valley.
I tried to get to the Ides of March rally in 1971 but as I had being having some trouble with my BMW R69 my friend and mentor John Williams had it for a week to "look at it" for me. He changed the main jets, reset the timing, balanced the carbs and what ever else he thought it needed. The problem was, although it was an R69, it had been upgraded to an R69s. So in the early hours of the Saturday morning, as I joined the M6 at J9 Wednesbury, a frog eyed Sprite came past me. I had to go for it and I did. I soon passed him but within a mile or so the bike spluttered onto one cylinder and a quick glance behind me showed that "Houston we have a problem" - loads of smoke. I stopped and that's as far as I got that year.
Two years later I tried again. This time I was mounted on the BSA Gold Flash outfit that I had broken my leg on. It had turned out to be a most reliable machine and Saturday morning I called around to collect Gordon Harris to get ourselves up to the rally. As I pulled onto Gordon's drive I felt the back end step out a little and saw that I had a puncture. Gordon, being a couple of years older and more experienced than I was, took the leading hand, plus he had all the tackle at his house. I was looking around for a couple of bricks to place under the center stand to get it high enough to get the back wheel out. "Don't bother, I've got a car jack," said Gordon. Back end up, wheel out, inner tube patched, on our way in about 30mins. A449 to join the M6 at Stafford South / Penkridge. After a few miles on the M6 the engine started to tighten up and it siezed twice before we got to Keele services. On inspection at Keele we found the oil was not circulating. The car jack that Gordon had used had flattened the steel reinforced rubber oil pipes against the engine plates, cutting off most of the oil supply to the pump. Problem solved. The rest of the trip was no problem apart from the cold.
The 24 hour cafe that was mentioned two years earlier was not there. We were on the top of a barren hillside on the Colne valley, a very inhospitable place. A small burger van was there for a couple of hours but once the pub opened that vanished. We walked down to the pub - lets face it we had to walk down as we were the highest point for miles. It was good to get somewhere warm for a few hours before we returned to the tent.
Sunday morning was bitter, a cold wind blowing over the hills. A hard frost had settled over the 150+ brave souls that had survived the night. We were up early, not much point lying there when we could be having breakfast and getting off home to the warmth.
We had a quick look around and there seemed to be some rubble, either dumped or a building knocked down. Gordon spotted a bell, big brass type of thing, heavy about 15" diameter. "Lets get that in the chair, we can weigh it in." So we loaded it up and came home.
My mother, on spotting the bell, asked about it and then said it would be better to see an antique dealer, which I did. So a chance find funded our weekend's outing.
- Les Hobbs