Uh oh! Seems there will be a vote to decide who will be the Scottish Area Rep for the Vintage Motorcycle Club for the next two years. I have been Rep since 2009 - it seems a long time when I write it down but in reality, it's just flown by. In that time, apart from my general 'duties' of visiting Sections and being a link between them and Allen House, I've been involved in starting four new events in Scotland - the Haggis Run for my own Section, the NE Scottish, the Plus1 to compliment the long standing Scottish Double, the incredibly popular Scottish Vintage Training Day held at Grampian Transport Museum in Alford and the Vintage Gathering organised by the Auld Reekie Section. In some cases, my job has been to research, plan, and organise from scratch, and then to work on the event right through to the end - take the Haggis Run - a totally new concept for our Section, so a venue had to be found, dates researched, routes and special tests invented, paperwork organised and everything that we would need on the day had to be thought of....and then on the day, its up early, stuff the car full of forms, maps, bike numbers, traffic cones, tennis balls and plant pots (yes, really) and pens and string and....well, you get the picture! Then its a day spent signing people in, marshaling and helping where I can, taking plenty of photos and afterwards, writing reports for either the VMCC Journal or a section newsletter, or maybe even the likes of Old Bike Mart and a blog update - busy busy, but fun! Don't get me wrong, being Area Rep isn't always a one-person job and I had loads of help from Mrs BC and our Section Chairman, Captain Bill and together, we got the Haggis set up.
|Peter Donaldson 'Leaders' the way in multitasking at the Haggis...|
|See, look, it IS fun, says Geoff Hanson!|
|The guys queue up for the Special Tests at the Haggis.|
|Lovely weather again...|
The same goes for the Plus1. Working closely with the then Chairman of the Central Scottish Section, a certain Mr Stan Shorty Williamson, the entrants of the Double were quizzed on what they'd like to do in the week between the two big events, and then we created the Plus1 so that they could have a good excuse to visit the north east corner of Scotland and ride our beautiful roads and eat ever so unhealthy home made cakes and sticky buns in places like the great Duff House. As well as the road run we laid on a formal meal and awards ceremony and on the second night, an informal get together with an al fresco meal and a local singer to entertain. Creating an event that's 'different' is a load of work but I have to say, all the buzzing around and planning really is quite enjoyable, not to mention rewarding, especially when, on the day, you get lovely weather (hmmm) a nice big turn out of smiling VMCCers taking their old bikes out for a canter, and members of the public coming up for a chat to find out what all the fun is about. That's part of the reason I do these things, to give people the opportunity to see and hear and smell the bikes in action. Don't you just love the stories about "I remember when my Dad had one of those...." or "I learnt to ride on one of those...".
|The start of the day at the first Plus1|
|Bette Barber (VMCC President) sets the riders off at Aden Country Park|
|Nice bikes and SUNSHINE. No, it's not Photoshopped!|
|A stop for tea and cake at Duff House allows the public to see the bikes...|
|....and what nice bikes there were to see...|
With an event like the Vintage Gathering, my involvement couldn't have been more different. Early on in my Rep-ship I popped down to Edinburgh to see the guys in the Auld Reekie Section. With little going on VMCC-wise in that area in those days, it was just a handful of chaps meeting for a pint and a natter, and our casual conversation about events or runs they could do in the future sparked an idea which turned into a Scottish Gathering of Vintage machines. I'm pleased to say that these days they have a greater turnout at Section nights and the enthusiasm for promoting vintage and veteran machines in Scotland, is quite contagious, and it's great to see regular Section Notes appearing in the Journal too. Not having a suitably old machine, I couldn't ride in the event, but, Johny Johnson came to the rescue (as he often does in these situations) with the offer of a seat in his Sunbeam's sidecar. A 4am start from England, due to being down there for a Management meeting, saw me arrive just in time. The route was great and being in the chair allowed me to catch up on some much needed sleep....errrrr....I mean it gave me a chance to get some good photos!
|Ready for the SPLASH!!!|
|Tucked up safely in the sidecar, GBC didn't hardly notice the SPLASH!!!|
|Is that an alternative route to the right?|
Ahh, the Scottish Training Day. Do you remember it? Back in the glorious summer of 2010 - the day before the Training Day we had a visit from Ivan Rhodes and his Roarer (more on that later), and the day before that we had tremendous thunder storms and rain of Biblical proportions! With 21 fabulous bikes ranging from an Autocycle to a Hobart to an Indian and including several Sunbeams and oh ok, I might as well list them all -
1921 Reed Scott - 1930 BSA Sloper - 1930 Ariel LG250 - 1925 Sunbeam Model 7 outfit - 1923 Hobart - Royal Enfield K32 outfit - 1928 Sunbeam Model 2 - 1930 Scott - 1929 Panther 500cc - 1927 Raleigh Model 17 - Velocette KTT - 1925 Royal Enfield Model 180 - 1929 BSA E29 outfit - 1921 Sunbeam Sporting - 1922 Indian Powerplus - 1928 Sunbeam Model 6 - 1925 Sunbeam Model 2 - 1920 Norton 16H - 1912 Rudge TT 500 - 1915 Calthorpe JAP 300 - Autocycle
- what a day!!! You wouldn't believe the amount of organising this one took. It isn't easy to get people to lend their prized vintage bikes, especially when they don't quite know to whom they are lending them. But that's just the point of the Training Day, to allow people who have never experienced a bike with a hand gear change and a lever throttle, to have a go. Liaising with VMCC Past Pressy, Colin Seaton and the Chairman Kim Allen, and the Grampian Transport Museum, the date was set so that the VMCC guys could attend and still make their other commitments at the southern training days. I've never seen so many cheesy grins. People were a little nervous to start with, but after everyone had put in a few laps on their first steed, it wasn't long before they were literally queuing up for certain bikes and trying to get a 'full house' on their card. A huge thank you again to all who supplied bikes and spent a day instructing the novices, and all the extra marshals who helped out in the paddock or on the track.
|Johny Johnson lends a helping hand.|
|Cooooey, over here....seems to be a case of really bad camera shyness!|
|Mick Elstone tries Alec Stevenson's Indian for size; left hand twistgrip and foot clutch I believe....|
|"This one for go, this one for stop...."|
|Bill! Bill - he's behind you!|
|Some owners were slightly reluctant to let go.....|
|GBC was needed as, errrr ,ballast?|
The Area Rep work isn't all about big events and starting events and making lots of noise. It's also about being a point of contact for the Sections and visiting them either at a Section night or a rally or run etc, plus there are the Committee meetings at Allen House down in Burton Upon Trent. These happen once every couple or few months and are usually on a weekday. A day off work, you say? Well, yes, but although I work full time I'm lucky to have a fairly flexible job, and the only meetings I've had to miss have been once when I was ill and another time due to bad weather, and I'm proud to say I've been to all of the AGMs while I've been in office - the one in 2012 was a particularly memorable occasion - I was presented with the EE THOMPSON Award which is for "outstanding efforts in promoting or organising Club activities". I don't do the things I do to win awards, but it sure is nice to know that people appreciate my efforts enough to nominate me. Anyway, I like promoting old bikes. I mean, what better excuse can there be to take your old bike out and about? You'll usually find me promoting my 1962 Tiger Cub, but that's only 'cos I don't yet have a vintage bike. But that's changing, sort of, in spring 2013, when I shall become the temporary custodian of the VMCC's 1924 Triumph SD....gulp....
|Pic supplied by previous custodian, Tim Britton of Old Bike Mart fame|
Outgoing President Colin Bell hands over the trophy
Talking of being a point of contact, something I've done a lot of these last few years, is helping to source motorbikes for various projects. Film companies or authors or clothing companies often email me to ask if I know of a suitable bike for their shoot - one such occasion was to locate a machine to star in the promotion of Diane Atkinson's book, Elsie and Mairi Go to War, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. What better PR can you get than that??? The number of photographers who want to shoot sidecars is quite unreal, I suppose the person modelling or selling whatever product it is doesn't have to be able to ride a bike because the owner can do that, whilst they concentrate on their job. More recently, a guy from Sweden needed a bike for display at a trade fair, again, in the capital city of Edinburgh, and through some contacts we managed to get a Tiger Cub out there into the public - and business - eye.
Many of you will have heard by now that I also publish a magazine. The Cub Mag is dedicated to what is undeniably my favourite motorcycle and through it, I aim to promote riding, fettling, showing, using and enjoying old bikes. With subscribers in TEN different countries, it all helps to spread the word. I've been pleasantly surprised to receive subs from a lot of younger Cub owners & riders lately, and their next step after a Cub might well be something older......clunkier.....and more 'vintagier'....
|With Edward 'Turner' Bear in charge of PR, it's gotta be a winner, yes?|
Right, time for a break. Part two of 'Why You Should Vote For GBC' will be coming up soon. Trying to recall all the things I've done and write down all the things I want to do in the future takes a while, cos there are so many of them....