Wight Riders M.C.C.
April 30th - May 3rd. 2004
Bloody Hell !
Another year - another Gurt Gallybagger. It really doesn't
seem like twelve months since the last one, and it certainly
doesn't seem like fifteen years ago that I did the first one.
We were a bit thin on the ground this year with only a dozen
or so Moonshiners attending. Maybe the weather last year
scared some of 'em off ?
The "advance party" consisting of Kev and myself set off on Thursday. Two trikes, two trailers and two idiots who decided that the weather didn't look all that bad, and set off all the same. Out of the 168 miles to the rally it rained for at least 150 of 'em. Not particularly heavy rain, but consistent, annoying rain. Despite the rain, the run down there went well with neither trike giving any problems. We arrived at the ferry with perfect timing - roll up, buy ticket ( nice one Wight Riders, that concession makes all the difference - £20 ish ) and get straight on to the ferry. Makes a change from waiting, even if it is usually less than an hour's wait. One cup of coffee and half an hour later and we were on the island. A quick shopping stop at Freshwater, then on to the rally site.
The scenic coast road had been closed for the last two years, but it was now reopened, so that's the way we went. Speaking of things being reopened, the Wight Mouse pub, which was closed last year for refurbishment, was also now back open, so that was the next place to head for. Talk about a shock - refurbishment is a slight understatement. The place had been totally gutted and rebuilt giving at least four times the floor space but the character of the pub seems to have been removed completely. Gone were all the musical instruments that used to adorn the walls and ceiling, the famous whisky collection was no longer a prominent feature and the "live music every night" had gone the same way - well, they no longer had a separate area to perform in. The other noticeable absence was customers - no longer was the place packed.
The Wight Mouse had always been noted for the
quality of the food - Nigel bravely volunteered to try out what
was on offer. The verdict seemed promising. I only
hope the Wight Mouse will recover and become the pub it once was,
after all, it's now a "new" pub, less than twelve
months old. Let's see what next year brings eh ?
Whilst sitting and supping, we received a phone call to say that the "second wave" of Moonshiners had just managed to catch the last ferry of the night - 10:15 - and would be at the rally site in about an hour. Would you believe it - they had seen no rain at all on the way down, but that's not to say the journey was uneventful - Pete's trike just didn't want to run at speed. Every time he started making decent progress the thing would "hold back" for a mile or two, then get going again only for the whole process to be repeated again. This was to provide endless "entertainment" ( not to mention some disturbing and alarming language ) during the next few days.
Friday morning was dull, cold and grey. Not exactly the weather for touring the island so we headed down to the beach and generally mooched about for a while.
A few more Moonshiners turned up during the day, most of 'em having encountered wind and rain on the way down. Ah well, might as well head for the pub, then the marquee, and let's see what tomorrow brings.
Saturday, and the
weather looked promising. Another phone call told us the
"last wave" of Moonshiners were just about to board the
ferry, so we made arrangements to meet up with them once they had
booked in and set up camp.
Cowes was the place we all headed for, and by the time we got there the sun was well and truly shining, so we did what all Moonshiners do when confronted by a combination of sunshine and seaside - we bought ice cream. Just as we were about to leave Cowes a somewhat large ocean liner was passing in the Solent - hmm - The QE 2, so that's what it looks like.
The next port of call was Godshill, so, taking
advantage of the sunshine I headed for the model village.
OK, so I've seen it before, but that was over ten years
ago. I must admit to being impressed with the realism of
parts of the model village, with the correct camera angle you'd
be hard pushed to tell if it were real or model. Even the
trees around the models have been grown "Bonsai" style
which adds even more realism.
Once again we rounded the night off in the pub, then the marquee.
Sunday morning, and the big round shiny thing is blazing away up in the sky.
One of the many good things about this rally is the variety of things to do and see on the island. There happened to be a small classic bike show on at Ventnor, so with the sun once more blessing us with it's presence, we set off for Ventnor, and indeed there was a bike show. The Winter Gardens was full of motorcycles, come to think of it, even the car park outside the Winter Gardens held a variety of bikes, old, new, classic and not so classic. A most pleasant few hours were spent nosing around various bikes - £ 2 well spent, in my opinion.
The next stop was a steam and vintage rally at Calbourne water mill. Now seeing as the fellow on the gate thought my trike was "interesting" he told me there would be no admission charge if I were prepared to display it for a while. Sounds good to me - park up, have dinner, look around - all for free. I would have included a picture or two of the trike on display, but modesty prevents me. Actually, that's a load of cobblers - I ran out of space on the camera's media card, and hadn't got around to buying a spare one - an oversight that was soon corrected, but too late for the steam rally I'm afraid.
We all returned to the rally site somewhat sunburned. A merry bunch of red faced Moonshiners ended the day with a walk to the edge of the field where we sat watching the sunset, before making tracks to the marquee for some more liquid refreshment.
Monday - and it was looking rather grey and gloomy. A typical Monday morning really. Some folks were heading back home, whilst the remainder of us were heading West, to the North Devon / Somerset border and the town of Porlock.
Whilst packing away, one of the bungees I use to stop the dog kennel's roof from sagging decided to make a bid for freedom . . . and promptly ripped a two foot long gash in the roof. Ah well, I can fix that later when we get to Porlock. A classic case of "famous last words".
Now seeing as Pete and Ollie wanted to visit Stonehenge, we split into various groups, with the main party taking the scenic coastal road, ably led by Gordon, whilst Pete, Ollie and myself headed inland towards Salisbury. Of course no Bank Holiday Monday would be complete without rain and traffic, both of which we had in abundance around Lyndhurst. Once we were clear of the New Forest the weather picked up, and I'm happy to say we didn't see any more rain that day.
After filling up with fuel, we made for
Stonehenge, where the car park attendants let us park for
free. It's the novelty value of trikes and trailers that do
it y'know. Having done the tourist bit, we decided to crack
on along the A 303 towards Taunton, then take the road over the
Quantock Hills towards Porlock. Sadly, things didn't go
quite according to the plan. Pete's trike had behaved
itself on the Isle of Wight, and seemed to be running OK on the
way to Stonehenge. Seeing as I was leading, I asked Pete
what sort of speed he was happy with.
" About 60 or so " he replied. So I set off holding a steady 60 mph or thereabouts. The A 303 is a fairly decent road for making progress along, with a good few sections being dual carriageway, which come in useful for getting past the odd lorry or caravan. I noticed that I couldn't see Pete behind me, so I looked for a lay-by with a good view of the road, so that Pete could see me parked up well in time to pull in behind me. It was a good half an hour before Pete arrived. His trike was showing all the symptoms of fuel starvation - it would run at speed for a few miles then just die. You could coax it along for another mile or so, then it would accelerate back up to "normal" speed, only for the whole process to begin again. We checked the obvious things - fuel pipe clear, air breather in the tank OK, fuel solenoid cut off operating correctly, points gap correct, timing correct - with all that lot apparently in good order we suspected it could be faulty coil or condenser. Time was pressing on, so I suggested Pete takes the lead and I'll follow. Things went well as long as Pete's trike wasn't under any load. As soon as we hit a hill, his speed would drop to below 20 mph. It was after one of these "long slow crawls" that we pulled in to take yet another look at his engine. Nope - nothing obviously wrong with it - I turned back towards my own trike only to see the contents of the gearbox being pumped out onto the road. Oh bugger - looks like I've cooked the automatic transmission. We stood there for a while hurling the most obscene comments at our vehicles, whilst this did nothing to make 'em work any better, it certainly made us feel happier. The only thing to do was press on as best we could, and sort things out the next day. Just to make things even better we managed to miss the Taunton turning, so after a bit of map consultation, we decided to take the road along the Exe Valley, and come out directly in Minehead.
Now the Exe Valley road is a beautiful, scenic route - but when you have two rather sickly trikes, both towing trailers, it becomes hard work lugging them around some of the bends. We finally arrived at Porlock. Pete was muttering something along the lines of
" My arms ache . . . . bloody trikes. . . set fire to the thing . . . bleedin' heap o'shite . . ." and other things that just couldn't be repeated here. Must admit, I know just how he felt - Still, we were here now, we can worry about the trikes in the morning. It was about then that I remembered the ripped awning, so out came the trusty Gaffa tape and in next to no time the roof was repaired. The rest of the evening was spent in the local pub, mainly discussing Pete's trike, and it's mystery illness. Just to round the day off nicely, the wind got up at about three in the morning and promptly destroyed my newly repaired awning. Considering it only cost me about a fiver to make, and that was ten years ago, I reckon I've had my money's worth out of it. Must add "make new awning" to my list of "things to do when I get back home" . . . along with fit an oil cooler to the trike's gearbox. ( Which incidentally, was done on the Monday I got back )
Tuesday - and it was a day of sunshine and showers.
First thing was to walk into town and grab some ATF for the trike's gearbox. I also found out the nearest place for obtaining various V W bits and pieces . . . . we were going to fix Pete's trike. Oh, if only life were that easy.
Minehead Motor Factors - just behind Tescos, so that's where we went. I bought some more ATF, Pete bought new plugs, points, and condenser. Back to the site we went and fitted all the new goodies. Pete took the trike out "on test " - no different. OK, maybe the coil is breaking down when it gets hot. Back to Minehead, where we had spotted a breaker's yard. One coil later, and off we went. .... .... for all of a mile. Arghhh - the coil was the wrong impedance and had promptly overheated the points and melted the heel on the operating cam. We left Pete's trike sitting forlornly at the side of the road and went for another set of points, which were fitted, along with the original coil. By the time we got back to the site we ( well, Pete ) decided to call it a day. Trikes ? Who'd have one ?
Today's plan was a run over to Lynmouth, which considering the weather, wasn't a bad idea. It looked grey and gloomy, so a long ride was out of the question. Pete decided not to risk the trike up Porlock hill so he ended up on the back of mine. It was whilst walking back down from Lynton to Lynmouth that we noticed an abundance of wild garlic growing alongside the path - no prizes for guessing what we would be having with our dinner today. As per normal, we finished the night off in one of the three local pubs.
Once again Pete and myself headed into Minehead. This time we were looking for a garage that specialized in V W Beetles - we had been told roughly where it was, and with a bit of ferreting about, we found it. One replacement coil later and we were on our way - only for the same problem to rear it's ugly head again. A replacement distributor and new dizzy cap didn't do any good either.
Dinner ! Things always seem better after dinner, so that's what we did. Bought some nibbles and headed over to Porlock Weir where we sat in the sunshine and nibbled.
Right - time for plan "B". We had now changed just about everything electrical on Pete's trike, we had stripped the carb and cleaned it, yet everything still pointed to fuel starvation. By strapping a box on the back of the trike, then putting my spare fuel can on top of the box we made a crude "gravity feed" to the carburettor. With me perched on the back, Pete set off towards Minehead. Whey-hey, it never missed a beat. Looks like it could be a dodgy fuel pump - which seemed to work when we checked it earlier. So once again we turned up at the V W garage and grabbed a second hand fuel pump, then headed back to fit it. It was whilst refitting the fuel lines that I happened to blow down one. Ever get that feeling of "how could I be so stupid" ? Yep - the fuel filter was blocked, it would allow enough fuel to pass for moderate running, but not enough for high speed work. All that hassle over a £ 2 fuel filter. The lesson here, boys and girls, is check EVERYTHING. Still, now that Pete's trike is all happy again, it means we can carry on with the holiday. Next stop - the top of Porlock Hill, and that trike pulled up there with no problem at all.
If nowt else, it's a grand view from up there - you can see the saltwater marsh which is just down the road from the campsite, but you can't quite see the site itself, which is a pity.
Having been up the hill, we came down again. I can see a "Grand Old Duke of York" theme forming here. Having come down again, we then looked back up again - this time at the deer which had emerged for some late afternoon feeding. Speaking of late afternoon feeding, that's a damn good idea, so we copied the deer and fed.
It looked like being a decent sunset, so I wandered off down the lane towards the coast. Looks like I made it just in time, another few minutes and the sun would have legged it. It feels a lot further coming back - good job I had the lure of the pub to tempt me.
Yet another parting of the ways. Some of us had already left the day before, heading for the "Spark in the Dark" rally, whilst Gord, Kella, Pete, Ollie, and myself were heading back today. The remaining five were staying until Sunday.
Now I don't know if Kev's trike was feeling jealous because of the attention Pete's trike had been getting, but it decided to throw it's toys out of the pram and snapped it's clutch cable.
Ah - now clutch cables we can fix, in fact we even have spare cables with us. The one good thing about rear engined trikes is the fact that they are relatively light on the front end, so it wasn't a problem to hoist the trike's front wheel onto Kev's trailer, thus making working on it so much easier. Within half an hour or so, Kev was up and running, as good as ever.
With both mine and Pete's trikes running as
they should, the journey home was uneventful but pleasant non the
less. We crossed the Severn Bridge into Chepstow, stopped
for dinner at Tintern, before using the M50 - M5 for the last 65
miles or so.
It had been a "challenging" week. The weather had it's ups and downs, Pete's trike led us a merry old dance, my vomiting gearbox had me worried.
Some folks, when they go on holiday, buy small souvenirs - Gordon had to go one better, he bought a car - but that's another story.