Bob Foster Run 1st/2nd October 2005
Fellowship, bygone machines, and dry for once
Those who follow this annual event will know very well that it absolutely pisses it down by the bucketful every year. This year the weather was different, though much else was the same. The sun shone gloriously on all that gleaming acreage of lovingly restored paintwork and chromework, glistened mischievously off the trickles of oil that bestow every old British bike, and dried roads and brakes such that maximum pleasure could be taken in the viewing and the riding of these heritage machines. The breezes too were kindly, bringing back the magnificent sounds of the machines some minutes departed from marshalling points, particularly if these preceded a hill sufficiently steep to work the bike hard. Not too much Castrol R this year, though. That is a pity.
That which is one of the distinct pleasures of this event is also paradoxically one of the worries. Looking around the village hall at Crossways as the riders take tea and cakes after the run it is striking that they take so much pleasure in each others’ company, and that there is so much grey or flesh-coloured hair. True to say, the younger contingent are beginning to appear but in the main the age-group is well into what I called last year the Autumn years. “Autumn years in the autumn of the year.” The hall was full of grey hair – yes, I know, mine as well! – but unless there is an upsurge amongst the younger ones this event stands the risk of timing out of its own accord.
But the spirit of fellowship and like-minded love of machines from a bygone age is there, and in such great abundance as to be an inspiration to those of us for whom our own autumn is coming into view. It is an infectious spirit that is every bit as important an element of this magical day as the sights and sounds of these lovely old bikes, and it is to be hoped that over the coming years that infection will reach out to younger like-minded souls who will not have personal recollection to serve as their foundations for an interest in maintaining this heritage. For them the character of the machine and its riding will sit side by side with all its faults, and the riding of these heritage machines will itself sit side-by-side with the riding and appreciation of their more modern counterparts. For them, I suspect, there will be no Brit/Jap, old/new divide as clearly defined as there is today; motorcycling will encompass all. “I must get one of those” was heard from amongst our own contingent, as if bearing out this sentiment. And no, Phil Chick wasn’t there.
The marking out of the run was done on Saturday, as usual, in bright sunshine using the marker system with pairs dropping off at each point. Progress was good and the route, via Milton Abbas, Bulbarrow Hill, Duntish, Evershot, Beaminster and the coast road back to Crossways added to the pleasure. Over-enthusiastic marking of the turn into the Tropical Gardens at Abbotsbury for tea merely added to the usual banter. Full marks to John Challis who, having suffered a puncture fairly early on, had applied a temporary fix from one of those natty kits that the more-prepared of us carry (note to self to get one!) and had departed to find a new tyre so he wouldn’t miss the real run the following day. And similarly to Howard who had a technical hitch on Saturday but still turned up in the car on Sunday rather than let the side down. With that kind of spirit amongst the newer members isn’t it such a shame that we struggle for numbers from the rest of us?
Such were the numbers on Sunday that the early marshals had to leap-frog the ride to mark the later stages. The run riders themselves didn’t help by not getting away smartly themselves, which effectively delayed the later marshals’ departures, resulting in their arriving at the lunch stop just as the ride was getting ready to leave for the return stage. In one form or another, this is an annual problem and is one that we shall have to endeavour to rectify by closer liaison with the VOC organisers. And having arrived at the no-lunch stop, what a pleasant surprise to see one or two other club members there admiring the bikes.
This event is a club commitment, and it does require more than casual support to run to a standard with which we would all wish to be associated. One day or two, it matters not; it is a most enjoyable event in which we are able to do our bit to keep our motorcycling heritage alive. To those who did help this year go very sincere thanks from the VOC, to which I would add my own appreciation. Those not able to make it missed a very good event, not to mention a commemorative mug, bacon butties and home-made cakes. But most important of all you missed the fellowship and inspiration from some very remarkable old boys and girls. Put a note in your diaries for early October next year and don’t lose out again.
Pics: Roger Braithwaite