Roaring Twenties Ride 4/5 May 2013
Ken Vincent’s name is spoken in hushed tones of respect from Mt Clarence to Phillip Island but it is not his prowess on the race track which endears adherents of our glorious sport to this particular event. By registering early, one escapes the possibility of relegation to Nannup Hotel’s (in)famous Pink House, a ramshackle, turn of the (nineteenth) century with a motley assortment of rooms. The last nine to enter are booked into this place which contains a number of double beds in pokey rooms.
For the 2013 event, the buxom barmaid, Priscilla, convinced those people to put a row of pillows down the middle of each bed and dream earnestly of Elle McPherson. A determined deputation stormed the front desk and a couple of the troops were assimilated into the “upper storey” hotel rooms, more about these later.
It all started off at the quirky, rural transport museum in Boyanup, where local impresarios Murray and Sharon had gotten into the museum early on the Saturday morning, so all the Perthites (and Bunburites/Albanites) could park their vehicles in the back, secure carpark of the museum. Meantime, Ken and Dave Weeks, the nominated back up driver set up the Club’s Gazebo and starting boards on the exit road towards the South West Highway. Colin Brazil, whose vintage Indian’s magneto packed up on the eve of the departure, along with wife Delys, gallantly offered to stand in as reserve back up drivers in place of Lyn, who was unable to make it.
So, by 9.30, a very respectable line-up of 28 pre 31 bikes were parked in a dazzling array along the old railway line. Furthermore, Murray and Sharon were dressed up in contemporary clothing, including tartan dress, stockings, top and tails, trilby for Murray and the de rigeur Mike Hawthorn racing bowtie. Andrew Barleet, also dressed up, in tweed and bulging “plus fours”. No deerstalker suits though, and clay pipes, something for next year maybe?
The usual criminals were lined up on the start, Terry Mckie and Elliott Montagu on ’27 Triumph flat tankers (the ex Phil Skinner Triumph was in there somewhere too), Bill Cowlin and Rex Edmondson on the ubiquitous Slopers (Weeksy looked on forlornly, knowing that his own Sloper is already breathing Liverpudlian sea air). Kevin Badby was there on his glistening straight 4 Henderson, Spencer and Joyce on their veteran, tan coloured HD combination and Carl Montgomery on the well- travelled 1916 B.S.A. The weather was cool and dry with a few odd clouds scudding across the horizon but no rain was to dog us for the entire trip.
At ten o’clock, Ken rallied the recalcitrant troops together and dished out the day 1 route sheets (in miles, Esmeralda, to confuse those metrically inclined) which had the juggernaut moving off, in a large snake off towards Capel, and then Kirup for lunch. Each bike had a number, starting from the slowest, veteran bikes, and ending off with the 1930 screamers. Some of the oldest bikes picked up some minor running problems, such as a dicky clutch on Robin Bromilow’s little 250 B.S.A. and a loose HT cable on Murray and Sharon’s BSA outfit. Just as were entering a deep part of the forest, I encountered Barry Berkshire on his Sunbeam, son in law, Kyle in slipstream tow on a Norton. Chris Whisson flashed by on his Norton too and looking over my prehensile girder forks on the red DKW, it was like we were all back in England again. In a flurry of dense smoke and acrid fumes, the father and son duo of Ken and Ian Terry stormed through on their Velo and Scott TT Replica respectively.
Half way between Capel and Kirup, there was mounting apprehension for the looming Moonrising Hill, after which Oxfordshire’s famous “Sunrising Hill” is named. To make matters worse, that area had received 85mm of rain in the last week, causing large rivers of topsoil to be left on the road surface. Ian Brashaw, the customary marshall stood by at the bottom of the pass to warn the riders of the impending challenge (and a few yards of twine, just in case any of the bikes carked it going up the hill). My little 300cc DKW single motor spluttered once and I eased her down into second, with my tank mounted gear change and she glided up the pass like a witch. Just as were entering Kirup for our first refuel stop and a quick nibble, Terry’s back wheel lost all its drive. We loaded the Trumpet up, determining to find a woodruff key for the shaft, which transferred drive onto the belt’s driven pulley.
The afternoon ride consisted of a pleasant back road route, bypassing all the feral interstate and modern vehicles. We all arrived in Nannup at about the same time, and formed two rows of 14 bikes each, in front of the Nannup hotel. Bill Cowlin and Gary Tenardi, having parked his ’29 Ariel up, rushed into the bar and started a tab going. The troops moved round to the back counter to get the keys for their rooms. Kevin Badby was already in an earnest discussion, in his customary East Yorkshire lilt, with Chris Whisson, on how he was going to weld a fifth cylinder onto the end of his Henderson motor to dispatch “once and for all” the racy Scott of Ian Terry. Spencer, meantime, delved into the nether recesses of the HD and pulled out a whole box of woodruff keys for Terry, who had his pulley back on the shaft, in a jiffy.
At 4.30, the street show was over and everyone moved their machines inside the hotel grounds. Chris Whisson, Ian, Terry, Chris (AJS rider), Bill, Terry and I parked under the eaves of the Pink house and made ourselves at home. Chris immediately started a roaring fire in the immense hearth and the lads ordered ales from the bar. Ken rallied the three vintage Velocettes together and took some formation photos against a circular water tank and some trees. Ron and Lyn Cherrington, already fully recovered from the “Busselton 2 Day” only the weekend before, hove into the bar as well, as cheery as skylarks after a good day in the saddles of their BSA combination.
Gary Tenardi and Delys were speaking to the younger barmaid, who told them that a band, Braxton Hicks would be playing shortly and would put on a town shaking performance that night. After talking to the third barmaid, we also discovered that Priscilla, the barmaid who disappeared with one of the member’s commemorative jerseys last year, actually knew Esmeralda Gutierrez, from the Swan Valley and the two, when young lasses were the only gals in the valley that could dismantle and replace all the bearings in a unit construction BSA gearbox and refit it, all in under an hour. The supper was scheduled for 6.30 and all the participants eased into the Dining Room for the sumptuous spread, which included lamb shanks the size of baseball bats, huge steaks, chicken schnitzels and an ocean of fried chips.
Happy hour was in full swing after dinner and Guinness was on Special. Carl was relieved when Ian Brashaw actually returned from a push bike cycle he did up along the Blackwood River road, so jealous was he, that we were all enjoying ourselves on vintage bikes while he was relegated to marshall duty in a van.
Braxton Hicks, two guitarists and a lady lead singer, duly made an unforgettable appearance and literally blew everyone away with a barnstorming performance of blues, country and western and popular music. Ken and Colin Brazil made them perform another four or five songs to a rapturous applause from the bikers (and the local townsfolk who had gathered on the tradesman’s side of the bar) Even though it all eventually came to an end around midnight, Weeksy, on one of his nocturnal trips to the shanks, swore that he heard the sound of someone seemingly falling up the stairs (because the sound increased with every bump).
Nevertheless, at 7.30 the next morning, the whole cavalier contingent shuffled in for breakfast, where Ken handed out the Day 2 routesheets. Malcolm, a visitor from the U.K. and on a loan bike, Matchless, 350 was totally charmed by the whole exercise, advising that if any of us came past his place (Sammy Miller country), we would be most welcome to drop in and view his Japanese collection of motorbikes. After we had all packed up again and loaded our haversacks into the back up vehicles, we made off back to the main street for our ticker tape exit from Nannup. Once again the mystery vintage bicycle was locked up again, to a lamppost on the pavement, with no brakes and about a one inch thick layer of “street cred rust” on its frame.
The veterans were once again, first off, rattling along the fabled Black River road, one of Australia’s most scenic 40 kilometre stretches of road to be found anywhere. Once we came into Balingup, we peeled off left, towards Donnybrook for Lunch. Along the way, Terry’s Triumph picked up a few specks of dirt in the carburettor, causing the needle to not seat properly. Barry’s Sunbeam’s clutch started slipping on one of the hills, so he was also loaded up to Donny brook, where he was able to take up some adjustment on the throw rod. Elliott was officially declared “missing in action” and Weeksy was dispatched to recover our lost comrade.
Lunch over, it was off on the last leg, back to Boyanup, where a barbecue awaited and all the bikes were loaded back onto trailers/vans/utes. Within the fabulous gardens of the museum, Ken awarded all of the trophies and held a raffle of about fifteen prizes. Elliott, meantime had been recovered from somewhere near Busselton, lost and with a kickstart that had parted company with the motor, just in time to be awarded the “Hard Luck Trophy” It was a well contented mob that made off back home, with thanks to be extended to Ken for a jolly good outing.
John Wightman #811