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VMCC Festival of 1,000 bikes.
Just a few reflections on the festival from a comparative newcomer.
Club stands and auto jumbles can be seen at various venues throughout the year but it was the opportunity to ride around the Mallory Park circuit that appealed to me. I entered in plenty of time and was fortunate to be granted three sessions over the two days of the festival. However, as the event drew close I began to feel apprehensive, never having previously participated in such an event or ridden a motorcycle anywhere other than on the public road I was very nervous. I spent a fair amount of time preparing the Scott for the event checking that everything was as it should be. No loose nuts & bolts, lock washers where needed, oil levels correct, forks greased etc. I arrived late on the Friday before the event to get the machine and riding kit inspection out of the way. No problems apart from the weather, which left both machine & rider wet & liberally coated in mud. 8.45 on the Saturday morning and I joined the assembled group waiting my first session. I felt very nervous. The open expanse of tarmac looked huge and the Scott diminutive. Could I remember the meaning of the various flags used by the marshals? The machines already circulating (mostly 60’s & 70’s modern twins I think) looked hugely fast & noisy and the riders supremely confident as they passed & re-passed each other at what appeared to be colossal speeds. No less intimidating were the travelling marshals on their aggressively styled modern machines. Too late to back out now, the barrier was moved and we were on the track. Within seconds the nervousness was replaced by exhilaration, not because of the speed (I was on a 1927 Scott after all), rather the feeling of total freedom from the sub conscious anxieties that we experience on the road. Plenty of time to think about how the bike was performing, no gearchanges apart from at the hairpin which is very tight – I’m still uncertain whether it was necessary to use bottom gear but it was exhilarating going up through the gears through the devils elbow and onto the pit straight where you could go as quickly as you wanted. I’ve yet to fully master the hand change, but I’m definitely improving – got to stop myself looking at the gearlever to confirm I’ve selected the correct gear before releasing the clutch. Plenty of passing and re-passing and great to see the other Scotts, which made up a large part of this group on the circuit. The travelling marshals, rather than being intimidating did a wonderful job, in particular with the much slower machines, which they shepherded and protected from faster traffic. The fifteen minutes seemed like five and the chequered flag (indicating the end of the session) soon appeared. The broad grins on the faces of the riders as they dispersed said it all, a wonderful experience. Whilst it may not be for everyone I can only say that if you have the slightest inclination to have a go but have hesitated to commit yourself to a ‘parade’ like this give it a try – you’ll not be disappointed.
I’d also like to thank Ian Parsons for allowing me to use the Club stand as a base, providing much welcome tea & shelter over the whole weekend.
All in all a memorable experience, which I would recommend to anyone and which, health & Scott permitting fully intend to repeat next year.