Over the weekend I decided to ride out to a rally organised by the Yorkshire Branch of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) - click on the MAG logo on the right if you want to know more about MAG. It was in the grounds of a fabulous old English medium sized stately home that, like all stately homes these days, have to diversify in order to pay the bills - I mean do you think they'd welcome hundreds of bikers, trade stands, beer tents, food outlets, comedy acts and live rock bands if they could afford not to? (Well actually, I believe most probably would now they've got to know us). As is always the case with these events, it passed off peacefully, without incident. The only police presence was a local policewoman and her equally diminutive police community support officer...there to support her and us. To any overseas readers who don't know what a PCSO is, I'll just say that if you saw the two of them walking by, you wouldn't be able to tell which was the trained law enforcement officer and which wasn't, because they tend to be dressed exactly the same - could this have been some cruel Government hoax perpetrated on an unsuspecting electorate all those years ago? Either way, I offered to buy them both a cup of tea which was politely declined, with a cheery smile.
There was a `show what you rode in on` bike show and there were some rather interesting beasties on display. I took some photographs of their bikes and have posted them here for your entertainment. As it is the week of the general election I thought I'd try to categorise them as if they represented some of our political parties. It's not necessarily true or accurate, just a bit of fun. So have a look and see if you agree, disagree or perhaps have an observation of your own.
Above we clearly have a Cleggmobile. It's shouts, `I'm sleek and I'm sexy and check out my lunchbox`. The problem is that the `lunchbox` is actually a Ducati motor that should not be in this frame at all. That motor may have serious short term grunt, but you'll find that you have to re-tune it after every third trip to the shops, plus it's actually Italian, and Cleggmobilers just don't know if they want to be sat astride Italian, or French, or Belgian or Latvian or....well you get the picture. One other small point worth bearing in mind, would you really want to unleash all that horsepower whilst sat behind a front end that would simply go in any direction, despite you trying to steer it where you think you ought to be going? I mean, the thing doesn't even know where it's going to end up. I thought not. (PS. the brakes are iffy, too).
Above left we have the `Triumph` of Conservatism! A great vintage, been around for years, most older folks will usually reminisce with great affection for the old models, forgetting how they were occasionally left stranded at the side of the road without explanation. But they can still be quick and nimble - when its got the right rider (don't forget, Steve McQueen made his `Great Escape` bid on one). It's leaner and meaner than the other two and this one's definitely had a great restoration job done on it. I might even buy one myself. The only thing to watch out for is the little puddle of oil that will appear wherever you park it. And if you see one that hasn't deposited a small slick, it's probably recently arrived, so just wait a few minutes and, I guarantee, one will appear.
Well, what have we here? Well beyond the right of the Torymoto, it's an ugly spud for sure. Lights surrounded by wire mesh, a gas mask, a seat designed for what could well be a masochist and little saddlebags that, unless I'm very much mistaken, are from an Army surplus store and previously used for keeping hand grenades in. Perhaps they still are? What could you possibly call a rough old dog like this? A Griffon (sic), maybe? It can't possibly be a BNPmobile because this one has an engine that is most definitely not British and is probably of Jap heritage. But then again it's often quite hard to draw a line on one's heritage when one comes from a mongrel nation like ours, although my line is ok for a good 300 years past. Still, you have to draw a line somewhere. Although I could ride it, I don't think I'd want to, at least not without a decent seat and a big dealer network.
So there you have my weekend with the bikers. Just after snapping those pictures I found myself in the beer tent, sipping a free pint of John Smith's courtesy of my MAG vouchers and just `people watching` the multitudes in garbs of leather and textile, bearded and clean shaven, tattoed and un-inked, pierced and puncture-free, young and old, able bodied and disabled (yes, there is a Disabled Riders Association, whom I salute) and even the Christian Bikers Association tea and coffee tent. There was a whiff of hot metal, petrol, engine oil, burgers, onions, organic healthy food, cannabis and tobacco ordinaire, along with the odour of beer and woodsmoke all carried along in a fresh stiff breeze. We must have appeared a strange band of brothers and sisters to the landowner who, with his young family, tried to stroll discretely around the site except that, dressed as they were, they were anything but discrete because in this venue, `country casual` stood out like a Bulldogs bollocks!
I quaffed at my ale with a feeling of quiet contentment. The beer tent's sound system was playing "Run To The Hills" by Iron Maiden. A cliche? Most definitely, but I although I was amongst people whose names I didn't know, I knew I could strike up a friendly conversation with the vast majority of them, based on little more than our common bond. It was a strange, eclectic mix, but I felt very comfortable and secure amongst this particular tribe of mine. A feeling that drifted quickly away as I left for home and re-joined the bigger tribe I feel increasingly less comfortable amongst.