Golden Eagle Rally
The A5 to Cannock has never been one of my favourite pieces of road and riding in a torrential downpour I was rapidly getting more and more miserable. That afternoon had been so sunny I had decided to travel to Staffordshire in the evening instead of the following Saturday morning, but all of a sudden it did not seem a very good idea as I battled with the juggernauts on the rain lashed suicide boulevard.
I had a heart stopping moment when the rear wheel stepped out at the infamous diesel slick roundabout that Dave Cockerton mentioned in the Dragon article, but thanks to my new tyre it was not too serious.
I thankfully turned off the A5 and headed towards Wolverhampton, getting completely lost in the ring road system but I met some members of the Potters Wheel club that I knew and together we attempted to find the A449 and Wombourne. A lad on a Z1 took pity on us and led us at breakneck speed through the sodden streets the A449 and then on to Wombourne and the campsite. As tailend Charlie I was forced to take more risks than I like and I don't think I ever rode that fast in the wet before.
The campsite was on the village football pitch and there were already about two hundred camped. Sticking with the Potters I booked into the control and received a very nice rally badge. It had also stopped raining (wouldn't you know it) so we quickly erected our tents and walked to the pub that was already packed solid.
The following morning the sun came out to apologise for slipping the previous evening and we all felt good so everybody swapped bikes and we played around on the football pitch.
After we had all thrashed each other's bikes we wandered round the field to take in the other rallyists and renew old friendships. A group of heavy looking Harley D's started a debate on the ultimate touring machine but everybody in our party agreed that they wouldn't even consider an American tractor.
So as not to spoil my record I did some work to my bike; one of the carbs had been shook loose. Then I went for a blast around the local lanes to familiarise myself with the area i.e. location of pubs and cafes.
I returned after lunch to find that the remainder of the Potters had arrived. About two-thirds of the club had managed to get to the rally and Keith (chairman) hoped that they would win the best club turnout prize.
Some more Phoenix members turned up and while the tents were being erected I had the chance to admire Brian Evans' new 750 Suzuki. I was informed that it was Steve Gurney's (650 BSA) birthday so after a meal in Dudley, where incidentally Lucy Nowell (125 Honda) locked John Gathercole (900 Kawa) in the loo and pocketed the key, we attempted to give Steve his birthday bumps but he wriggles more than a virgin so we dropped him and queued up for a go on Dave's 750 Norton instead. I had already tried the noggin so John offered me a go on his Z1 and I was very impressed with it.
The organising club then started a soccer cum rugby game that clearly got its inspiration from the film Rollerball, with eighty a side, no rules and if you wanted to use your bike, or anything else, that was alright. This lunatic wasn't over until the pubs were open and we took birthday boy to the Dove for a few pints.
In high spirits we then walked on to the Working Men's club where a disco was supposed to be on but after a pint we decided to push on to the Mount Pleasant.
The walk was punctuated with some general horseplay that resulted in Steve (250 Honda) getting covered in s**t after rugby tackling Brian. We were so warm by the time we reached the pub that we decided to drink outside on the lawn but the atmosphere was getting electric resulting in a beer throwing fight.
Birthday boy then decided to do his party piece: Donning his knotted handkerchief, my specs and rolling his trousers up past the knee he declared himself to be a brain surgeon. We all rolled our trousers up and followed him into the pub where the barman struggled to pour the pints while laughing fit to bust.
After more beer swilling and singing we returned to the site to find a late night speedway session in progress on the pitch followed by a couple of streakers. Although there was a lot of noise I went to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, unlike some folks who apparently spent all night keeping each other awake.
We all woke early on Sunday morning, even the sun, and we headed for home about midday. We managed two miles before John's Z1 ran out of fuel and a further two before we stopped for a broken down Beeza. This was Steve's department so while he took over from the unfortunate owner the rest of us soaked up the sun and leched some delightful young ladies on a sponsored walk.
Brian was running in his new Suzy so our speed was legal for a change but once on the boring A5 we took off, blowing the hangovers away until we reached our pub at Tamworth. A pie and a pint later we rode home satisfied with a great weekend.