Peak RallyThird report of the Peak Rallies attended by Les Hobbs from 1970 to 1977, Stockport and District MCC, held in Edale, Peak District.
This year was one not to be forgotten. We had the three day working week and power cuts. I had bought a Ariel Huntsmaster from a local lad, one of the All Nations MCC, and dropped a single seater chair onto it. A good crowd of us from the Wolverhampton area were going to attend; Geoff Fulford, Ray Dowderswell, Pete Birkitt, Pete-the-snuff, Martin Bickley, Gordon Harris, Steve Porter and a couple of others, not forgetting all the other regulars from the Manchester, Hull and Stoke areas.
We started drinking in the Old Nags Head at the top of the village and the power went off. Not to worry as we were on hand pulls and a few candles came out. A couple of the lads had hurricane lamps and, I don't know who started it, people soon started to cut the tops off empty beer tins, slit down the side to within an inch of the bottom, then cut horizontally each way for a third of the circumference - pass the band aids - and open out the sides to form reflectors, cadge a drop of paraffin, place the top back in the tin and cut an inch and a half off your boot lace to form a wick and there you have it - the Blue Peter lamp.
While we were being industrious we didn't see what was going on but there are two pubs in the village and while we had always drunk in the Nags, it being the closest. As attendance was now up in the 200+s, others had started to drift off to the Church Hotel. The rumour started to circulate that the Church Hotel had no glasses. They had started to take their drinks and glasses with them. The landlady of the Nags started to get ratty and stopped serving people without glasses. Then she threw us all out, so we took our glasses and joined the throng down at the Church.
It was packed to the rafters, car batteries and head lamps provided the illumination and the landlord had opened up some sort of hill walkers accomodation at the side of the pub to provide another indoor area for us to sit and drink. The landlord had forgotten to lock the cellar trap door. I don't know who found out about it and I'm not going to implicate any one, but he lost a few crates and very nearly caught one person in the act!
Sunday morning was like most Sunday mornings after a few wet ones; breakfast, coffee, walk around a little, recount the events of the evening to those of us that missed it, pack the tents up and off home.
I set off on my own about 10ish and was just cresting the top of Mam Tor when the rear wheel locked up solid and the motor stopped. Hell, what's up with this? Everything pointed to the gearbox so I took the outer cover off - nothing obvious. So I took the inner cover off - again nothing obvious. A couple of mates had stopped and a couple of other rallists and after an hour we could see nothing. I put the box back together and the inner cover would not go back down. It was a good 6mm short of sealing. Took it all out again, put it all back again, what is wrong? Have I put anything in the wrong order or on the wrong side of the cover? Just could not sort it out. People started to drift away as they could not help and had to get home.
Pete Birkitt came up with the solution "I'll tow you," What a hero. It was now getting on for 12.30. I threw the bits of Burman in the sidecar and took the rear chain off. Pete was on "The Park Drive Special", a 1950 solid rear end Gold Flash outfit with the nearside panel of the nose of the sidecar painted like a Park Drive cigarette packet. A length of rope appeared and we were on our way back home.
It was slow heavy going. The seventy miles took us three and a half hours and that was only to Pete's house. We could go no further as he had no lights working. Oh, the joy of old Lucas electrics. We put the two bikes in a lock up and went into Pete's home to telephone my mother to come and fetch me.
Pete's mom put his dinner on the table and said "You will have had nothing to eat either, I'll do you something," I said "No thanks, my dinner (albeit dried up) will be waiting for me at home," but you know what moms are like. She came out two minutes later with two rounds of toast topped off with toast toppers. I hate melted cheese but I could not find it in me to say to her that I was not going to eat it, bring on the bush tucker. I gagged on every mouthful.
The fault on the gearbox was the sleeve gear had failed. It had split spirally in the bearing, thus growing in length. The bike was back on the road within the week.
The 1975-6-7 events I can't recall so they must have been as good as ever. The peak was one of our best winter rallies and from looking at the rally badges page must have continued for several years after I stopped attending.
- Les Hobbs