AN EPIC RIDE as told to CHARLES LAWSON

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AN EPIC RIDE as told to CHARLES LAWSON #14

I was talking to Ted Scott in Albany when he told me this bit of W.A. motorcycling history:
“George Best! He’s a tough old bugger. In 1938 he hung a water bag on his handle bars – shoved a loaf of bread down his overcoat, then rode his Ariel (1934 TT Winner on the North Beach Circuit) over to Nurioopta in South Australia. We had gone on by boat taking George’s 1935 Manx Norton with us. From memory George had to finish taking his crop off. George arrived just as practice was about to start. His face was burnt black from his ride across the Nullarbor. He ‘tickled’ the carb on the Manx, gave it a bump start and away he went. In the race all fell at some stage or blew up – George ran 4th”.

Two months later on the “Best Farm” at Koorda I was talking to George –
“Ted Scott tells me you rode your Ariel to S.A. to the Australian Championships?” George replied “That’s right. I still had over 1000 acres of crop to take off., so I sent my bike with them on the boat. The minute the last ton of wheat was off I got going. I did take a water bag (a disaster!). Reg Gurney at Balladonia sold me a six pint billycan which I hung around my neck on a strap. The bitumen cut out at Merredin and the gravel was rough to terrible. I had three punctures and a couple of ‘get offs’. One ‘get off’ bent the footrest into the clutch. So I made a primitive forge using snake wood, a tube spanner and a syphon hose to get enough heat to bend it straight. I averaged about 500 miles (800km) a day. Coming home was quicker – I made up over half a day. The old Ariel never missed a beat. Allan Tomlinson won the Aust. Car TT for W.A. in an O.H.C. MG, it was timed at 90 mph., Clem Dwyer was his mechanic”.

NOTE – All this took place over 60 years ago. At that time George on his farm had a 500cc long stroke Manx, a 350cc short stroke Manx, a Mark 7 KTT Velocette and a Cooper 1000cc Jap alloy race car. The round trip was a long 300miles.

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