Memba Rally and BMF Show - May 2000
I managed to get to the BMF Memba Rally, despite my club not having a stand on the show side of the fence. A shame when you consider it is the club's 75th year. Despite all efforts, we didn't get there until nearly 11pm and managed to miss most of the entertainment in the marquee, but I still managed to get my favourite BMF food - a toasted garlic, mushroom and cheese sandwich.
It was quite cold on Friday night, but at least it didn't rain - unlike almost all of the daytime. Saturday was mixed, with a fair bit of sunshine through the day, but the rain returned by evening and stayed until early in the morning.
0The weather on Sunday was not too good either; even the parachutists couldn't jump due to low cloud. I packed the tent away between showers before we went for a quick tour through a few more stalls, but didn't part with any more money - except at the Chinese food van.
On the plus side, though, I managed to get a new Jetflip visor for my helmet and a cheap (£10) pair of waterproof trousers. I also managed - at last - to find a tank bag that fits my bike. This was from a firm that didn't even claim to have one for every bike, (those that do - don't!). It performed adequately, and was transferred to my next bike as well.
- Phil (the Spill) Drackley
The other WMA members there
Having decided to forego the pleasures of camping for the weekend, we set off about half past nine on Sunday morning. The M23 and M25 up to the Dartford crossing went fairly smoothly and then we held everybody up while we fished in our pockets for the pittance of a toll. Why do they bother for such a small amount? When we got there all seemed to be flowing smoothly. By the time we had finally got our gloves back on and ready to go the traffic in the tunnel had formed a bit of a gridlock that even a motorbike could not get through. The police patrol vehicle came out to sort it and we had to wait frustrated in line, unable to filter while it nursed the traffic through the tunnel.
We turned off the M25 up the A10 following a very loosely conceived route plan. From my days in Hitchin as North Herts MAG Rep I had found many ways to get across country to Chelmsford, so I had not really decided exactly which route to take, except that I intended to link up with the A1 by turning off somewhere between Ware and Royston by whichever road took my fancy. As I was about to turn off for the A414/A602 option Sue suggested we could go all the way up to Cambridge and then on to Peterborough, which seemed reasonable, so I complied. The road up to Cambridge becomes a little more interesting than the planned dual carriageways and the town itself was a pleasure to bumble through. We went straight on into the centre, expecting to find an exit sign-posted to Peterborough, but we saw none, so we carried on around the ring road looking for directions. We did a complete loop and failed to find any mention of Peterborough, which I thought was most odd since my recollection had it down as the next major town out of Cambridge.
Eventually we stopped to ask for directions, only to invoke Sod's Law and have a very foreign sounding accent mumble something back to us with a shrug of the shoulders. The next attempt yielded a "Sorry mate, I don't drive" and some very blank expressions from others in the queue waiting to be served. Finally on the third attempt we found someone who had travelled more than the average country yokel four miles from home who told us that we had to follow signs for Huntingdon, which is on the road to Peterborough. Now forgive me if there are any closet fans of John Major out there, but the place just is not big enough to warrant sign-posting! Try to find it on the map and it looks just like any other village. Blink as you drive through and you could miss it. The only reason anyone from somewhere other than the Cambridge area has heard of Huntingdon is because a certain former Prime Minister has a constituency there!
We eventually cruised into the show-ground following the excellent signposts off the A1 at about ten to twelve. We divested ourselves of most of our clobber thanks to panniers and chains through helmets and arms of coats. I fished for the BMF membership card that I had searched for the morning before, only to be disappointed to find that there is no discount for members on Sunday.
The customary cheeseburger and chips was sampled and we were on with the main business of the day, which was to buy Sue a new leather jacket. She had been using an old cast-off of mine that was itself an old BMF Rally acquisition and still a good quality generally, but the zip was becoming liable to burst from the bottom. Some friends of mine had recommended a lady that does horse saddle and other leather bridle work as a very economical repair service, but this would still have left Sue without a decent leather jacket that was truly her own. Being a sentimental type and with our anniversary of our first date in May, and with a budget of £60 we set off around the stalls to buy an unofficial anniversary present. Three likely looking stalls later and the main mission was accomplished exactly on budget, and we still had not got to the Frank Thomas factory rejects stalls!
A secondary mission was to look out for some waterproof socks to replace the plastic bags customarily used as boot liners when I go trail riding etc without the Derri-Boots. The only truly waterproof leather boots that I have found were those from Furygan, manufactured for the French Army with a rubber coating on the outside. My brother Julien was displaying a natty pair of these Gore-Tex socks the last time we were out playing in the mud. They are not socks as we know them, more like roughly shaped boot liners that come in small, medium, or large, in short or long options. According to Julien, and those wise people from the Trail Riders Federation magazine, these are the best thing since sliced bread. I thought that I would find some that I could sample, rather than rely upon the vagaries of the mail order options. We traipsed around and around, but no sign of these elusive goodies could be found.
I sampled various new road bike options from the Japanese factories and decided they were not for me, but the trail bikes would be greatly looked forward to when the second-hand options become viable. I don't know how we missed the Triumph stand, but we did. The enormity of the site was such that we could not see it all in the time allowed. We barely skimmed the auto-jumble area and I do not remember seeing the Harley stand either. (No great loss there!)
We made a point of seeking out some of the Italian offerings and both decided that their road bikes were much more desirable. Sue bought me a nice Moto Guzzi T-shirt as her unofficial anniversary present and then it was time to head off back to pick up Felicity.
We had spent approximately three and a half hours at the show. The return blat - straight down the A1 to South Mimms, round the M25 and over the Dartford Bridge, then back down the M23 to East Grinstead - only took two hours. It was a long day that I doubt that I could be persuaded to repeat, but the object of getting Sue's jacket had been achieved and combined with a good ride.