Brough Superior Club's 60th rally
In 2008 we held the 50th rally, a week long event. This started at Brooklands and they rode from there to Dorset then up to Pendine and finally to the Grand Finale in Nottingham where on the final Sunday we had over 200 Brough Superior machines, both cars and motorcycles. I was proud to have ridden my bike for the duration of the week though I started in Dorset, missing the downpour that beset those who started at Brooklands.
Come 2018 we decided to do it again, why not? The week long ride started at Brooklands again. I really didn't fancy riding down from Yorkshire so we hired a van and stayed Sunday night at my sister's. Saturday morning I had a short ride to the old circuit to find... nobody there!
Florence wasn't lonely for long, they all gradually arrived. A diverse crowd. One couple from New South Wales who had already had a minor mechanical mishap and we wondered whether the little (680cc) bike would survive an arduous week's riding. Two couples from Tasmania, several gentlemen from Germany, a Swiss whose van had broken down in France and he'd taken a taxi to Dover to cadge a lift. He was very upset as he had rebuilt the bike with this week in mind.
A Czech family had brought theirs - a special bike with an ex-race engine. It was running but not in any way suitable for the road though it was seen out once or twice! One gentleman from Cumbria arrived with his bikes on a four wheeled trailer. I pointed out the jaunty angle of one of the wheels and Robert seemed puzzled. It was only when Ted said 'you only have one wheel on this side' that his face relaxed and he said
Oh, it must have gone on the Hogs Back - what a nuisance, that one had a new tyre on it!
We set off from here to ride down to Piddletrenthide. I rode with a few others, the usual Brough Club convoy. Every man for himself! We camped with others at Cerne Abbas and met up with the main party at the pub later. Lots of last minute fettling going on. There were lots more bikes and riders here than had been at Brooklands. A German doctor had recently fitted a sidecar to his bike but it wasn't at all good, one fitting had broken and he rode holding it with his foot! No problem, a bit of serious adjustment and he was good to go.
We had a good meal that night and in the morning we rode off to Clouds Hill, home of TE Lawrence. The bikes were crowded into the garden to add to the two 'genuine' ex Lawrence bikes already in situ. All got here in one piece even the little Aussie bike and its elderly rider. Arabic tea and cake were served.
Ted and I left them there. Ted was still working and I didn't feel up to riding so far on my own so we shoved Florence back in the van and headed for home.
H with restorer Tony Cripps
Not really a lot of time to relax as on Tuesday we headed south again on two bikes, Ted took his Pan, to rendezvous with them at Nottingham. No mishaps had occurred and the large party was split between campers, motor homers and those in proper accommodation.
Wednesday morning gave us a guided tour of Brough Superior related places in Nottingham in an old double decker London Bus. In the afternoon we rode into town to the Vat and Fiddle pub, home to the Castle Rock brewery where they had been producing a George Brough ale. This was a good pose with lots of bikes outside the pub.
Heavy rain overnight cleared to give us a good ride up to RAF Cranwell, another TE Lawrence connection. We were at the mercy of the RAF's equivalent to the Regimental Sergeant Major whose job was to line us up for a Fabulous Photo. He gave us 10 minutes to get ready and half the group disappeared into the café! Not used to that sort of disobedience threw him somewhat but he managed to get us all in line in the end but not without a bit of mickey taking. Twenty bikes and two cars made a good line up - not bad.
From here we raced up to Lincoln, an ancient city. To my shame I had never visited before and my Australian friend was lost for words - there is nothing to compare in Oz.
A long day on Friday. I was to ride Flo down to the rally site south of Banbury and Ted was off to (
I've never missed one yet) the Captain Cook near Whitby and he would catch up with me later. Now, it being the Brough Superior Club the ride wasn't the quickest route. We called in at Foxton to see where the Inclined Plane had been on the canal. Fascinating stuff. In my years with the club I have seen more obscure museums and Places of Interest than most people get to see in a lifetime. This was truly a fascinating piece of Industrial Archaeology.
There were more friends and bikes waiting at the rally site, more Brough Superiors than most know exist and all the fascinating people that own them. Ted rejoined us - after a long easy ride with his modern tourer.
On Saturday another ride to a Place or two or Interest. This time we visited Broadway Tower, a folly with some connection to William Morris and a very expensive tea room. Ted was riding a very nice 1924 SS80 Jap engined bike that had done a charity round-the-coast-of-the-UK in 2014 to celebrate its 90th and its owners 65th birthdays. He was having fun with it and this is another aspect of the Brough club that most would find hard to believe - if you are honest and capable it's not unusual for someone to lend you a bike to ride.
We then called in at Toddington Steam Railway for another dose of 'interesting things to see'. Returning to the site we were bowling along together having been left behind by the Brough we were following. Ted upped his speed a bit to overtake an artic and... ran out of petrol! He had no idea where the petrol tap was but somehow he managed to find reserve and ride on before getting squashed by the wagon. Luckily a petrol station was not far away.
Toddington Steam Railway
We had a big meal altogether, all looking forward to Sunday which was to be the climax of all this Broughishness. How many machines would we get - over 150? A glossy book was to be produced as a record of this event. A good photograph of every Brough present with a bit of history would be a good souvenir - as had been done with the 50th rally.
Another special feature is a unique badge, made specially for the event which is awarded to every rider who brings a Brough. Those who bring more than one bike will get more than one badge. These are modelled on the original Brough Superior badge with wings which was given out with every bike purchased.
Our Swiss friend was now all smiles. He had flown back home to meet up with the bike which had been recovered from France, borrowed yet another van and managed to get back to the rally in one piece.
Unfortunately the Sunday was a washout, it rained all day. People arrived in small droves in the morning. My friend from the West Country has two Broughs, an SS80 like mine and a genuine Brooklands racer which is registered for the road. He had roped in a friend from up the road to ride the 80 and they had ridden the 90 miles to the rally in the rain. Now this racer has no lights, no kickstarter and like most Broughs very little in the way of brakes. He had not enjoyed the ride there and was certainly not looking forward to the ride back. Heaven knows what the friend thought!
One of the best things about the Brough annual rally is the cavalcade where, to a broadcast commentary the bikes are ridden a short distance to let you see and hear them running. This was not possible in the rain which was a disappointment. The final tally for the event was 148 Brough motorcycles and 6 cars.
We stayed there on Sunday night and were woken by the bugle which one of the Germans always uses to wake people. The weather was clear and after a bit of persuading (a MAG/points clean/dry) Florence was off! Back home after a good week. I don't think I'll be up for the 70th - anyone want to borrow the bike for it?
- Heather MacGregor