Small But Perfectly Reformed Rally

The SBPR rally is organised by the Peevin' Hoolits MCC at Clennell Hall which is a popular rally venue in the middle of nowhere in Northumberland.

Because the rally was in April and May, on the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, we had a problem choosing which bikes to use. The tax on the BMW winter bikes runs out at the end of April and our summer bikes are taxed from the start of May. Neither of us fancied riding Heather's G15 750cc Matchless hybrid that far so I said We could take the Beetroot, our outfit. Heather then decided to take Florence, her SS80 Brough Superior. These two bikes ride together nicely. We planned a good route using the A168 which runs parallel to the A1 to near Ripon then on to the A1 to just past Scotch Corner and up the Piercebridge road to the A68 which took us to Otterburn then across the moors to Alwinton and Clennel Hall.

We had a break at the A68 cafe near Witton Castle and as we were leaving we were stopped by someone in his works van who had been heading south but had turned back to see if he had really spotted a Brough in the car park! He was pleased to see how easily Heather started it, but probably not as pleased as Heather was! Florence does play to a crowd.

We arrived at the rally and put the tent up, booked in and got a free nip of whisky then had a look around. We met up with lots of old rallying friends. The Clennel Hall site has a room where you can have a band or disco and a separate bar which is handy if you just want to talk and socialise. Friday night went in a blur as is so often the way.

On Saturday we had a run out via Rothbury to Alnwick. The roads up there are what riding a bike is all about the views are superb but its probably best to stop and look at the scenery as with all the bends its quite easy to become part of it! Saturday evening we walked across the fields to the pub in Alwinton for a meal. They were a bit overwhelmed by the number of rallyists but coped well and everybody got fed eventually.

Sunday after breakfast we set off on the bikes to do more of the same. However, it was not to be. Approaching the cattle grid on the way out I felt the outfit hit something in the road and pulled over to see what had happened. Disaster! A rock had flicked up from the front wheel and jammed up against the sump plug, smashing a big hole in the Beetroot's sump. Our outfit is on 15" wheels and has shorter than standard suspension units, it's too low. We were going nowhere today - Barry Carter towed us back to the site.

I used the pub's pay phone as there is no phone signal up there, to contact my breakdown people and the problem got worse. The breakdown people were adamant that the incident was an accident and not a breakdown and that as such I would be covered by my insurance for it but it was nothing to do with them. I was sure I was covered for both breakdowns and accidents but of course all the paperwork was at home and I couldn't get them to help me. This was Sunday and a Bank Holiday weekend, my insurance people were not open. I just put the phone down and tried to decide what to do for best.

I was with a group of friends and said I have all the bits to repair it at home but that's 150 miles away and I don't fancy riding a 300 mile round trip on the Brough to get the parts. With that, Pete Stansby (Puker) said Its no problem then, borrow my bike. He has an R100RT that he has done over 600,000 miles on and I had never known him lend it out before.

Soon that afternoon I left Heather to her own devices while I rode home to root out all the parts, tools and oil I would need to do the job. Then I headed north again back to the rally. I got there just in time to have a meal that Heather had ordered and kept on standby for us and we enjoyed the remainder of Sunday in the bar.

Monday morning I was up bright and early and before I attracted a crowd of people watching and encouraging me. I managed to get the outfit jacked up in the air and the new sump fitted, topped up the oil and rode it round to our tent, all before breakfast. We had no further problems and had an enjoyable ride home.

On the Tuesday I had words with my breakdown people as I was, of course, covered for both breakdown and accident and should have been recovered home. They agreed and this resulted, apparently, in the person who dealt with me and their manager being retrained. I was also compensated for fuel and the inconvenience and was assured it would never happen again.

Shortly after the rally I fitted a large sump bash plate under the Beetroot and jacked up the suspension at both ends as high as I can get it. It is still a bit low but I don't have to worry as much now.

- Ted Trett