Ides of March Rally

Organised by Salfords Centurians at Colne Valley

I went up to this one alone on an Ariel 650 Huntsmaster that I had bought from a member of the All Nations MCC that had used to meet up in a pub called The Manor in Stow Heath Lane, Bilston just out side of Wolverhampton. They were a good bunch of lads, very down to earth type of people and a few were regular ralliests, later to hold their own events. Sadly to say I never had the opportunity to attend any of their rallies.

I bought the bog standard bike from one of the club members mainly because it was bog standard and not messed about with. I dropped a side car onto it and away I went. The first rally I did on the bike was a Peak Rally at Edale when Pete Birkitt towed me home after wrecking the gear box at the top of Mam Tor. This was to be the second event.

All went well on the way to the rally until we came to the hump backed bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal. We could see it looming as we approached and then we had a problem; Mac the Black suffered from vertigo and stopped, so we all stopped, un-aware of Mac's problem. On finding the cause we were in a bigger problem. We couldn't go back along the motorway and Mac didn't want to go on. After a few minutes talking I finally got him into the right frame of mind to attempt the crossing. "Follow me close, stare at my number plate and nothing else" It worked, we made it and on to the rally.

It must have been ok as I can't recall too much about it.

On the way home we split up, Mac not wanting to face the bridge again. So I finished up travelling alone down the M62 onto the East Lancs Road and I pulled up for petrol just off the M62. On trying to restart the bike it kicked back and then refused all attempts to fire up. A quick inspection of the magneto showed that when I kicked the engine over the magneto did not rotate! Stripped fibre timing pinion - a common fault. What to do now? I asked at the filling station if I could leave my tools and camping gear inside the building and the combo at the side. "Yes lad, but for how long?" "Two or three days, maybe four" No problem, but now I had to get home!

I hate having to hitch a lift and if I am ever out and about I try to help out others if I can, but I was only at the start of the A580/M62 for a couple of minutes before a chap pulled up and offered me a lift. "I can take you to the M6 junction" "Thanks, that will do nicely" Having dropped me there it was mere moments before another car pulled up on the slip road and offered me a lift to Knutsford sevices as he had to get off the M6 at the following exit south, and I had a better chance of an ongoing lift from there.

As I walked over the car park of the sevices at Knutsford to go to the toilets I bumped into John Boswell complete with wife Mo and young daughter, in flat back lorry (John was a builder). I forget just what he was doing up that neck of the woods on a Sunday, maybe visiting family, I was just glad to be amongst friends, knowing that I was homeward bound.

A couple of days later I had a day off work and Geoff Fulford ran me back up to the bike on his 500 Triumph. I had in my garage a spare mag pinion, so it should have been no problem to retime the bike. But there was some problem with the threads on the magneto and I couldn't get the pinion to screw on. In the end I took the mag off and located a small engineering firm. I explained my predicament and asked if they could run a die down the magneto shaft. A two minute job, no charge, many thanks, and within a short time I was on my way home.

- Les Hobbs