Mallyshagg Rally

4th May 1984 - IOW Italian Motorcycle Owners Club

What is a Mallyshagg? Well it is a caterpillar on the Isle of Wight. My not-too-intensive research failed to uncover whether it is a specific species. It was such a unique piece of Wightian dialect that the IOWIMOC named their rally after it, which was originally intended for Italian bike riders, but was latterly made open to all.

Caterpillars are very much promoted on the IOW, (especially, of course, at the Butterfly World attraction), and you can hardly go anywhere without seeing little fluffy toys, in various colours. The organisers of the rally also sell them, but ones specially made in the colours of the Italian flag.

I don't know how much the roads in Portsmouth have changed in the intervening thirty years, but back in the 1980s it was a bit of a task finding the ferry. There were usually signs dotted around the city, quite a few roundabouts (but not all) had one, but it seemed rather a circuitous route. There is usually a bit of a queue at the terminal, as they only have a couple of boats and you have to slide in between cars wherever there is a gap, much like filtering down the M1.

Once on the island, the site is easy to find, you just have to find the coast road and follow it round. The field was quite close to the cliff edge and is probably closer now as most of the island seems to be crumbling into the sea, especially at the local attraction 'Blackgang Chine', which seems to need a rebuild almost every year.

Being a four-day rally the Friday night was less frantic than usual, and everyone enjoyed themselves.

On Saturday, some of us had a quick blast around the island, which didn't take long, and then headed over the site's cliff edge onto the beach, where we were confronted by what at first seemed to be a beached whale, but turned out to be motorcycle rallying journo Dave Richmond, who brought his entire family, plus dog, along with him.

The local Italian bike shop loaned rally-goers a couple of nice shiny new Laverdas to go for a ride around the island. Surprisingly, only one of them got written-off.

The evening's entertainment included the not-unexpected removal of damp clothing contests, amid the usual drunken revelry.

On Sunday, as there was no need for the majority of us to go home yet, things were quite relaxed. Some of us watched ABC member Minibod polishing his Laverda (again). There was a rumour that his 900cc bike used to be 1000cc before he started rubbing it down so much.

In the afternoon, following a trip to the nearest pub for a light lunch, the main games took place. There was the usual assortment of tossing and tugging, during which the combined heavyweights of Pet Rock MCC, (Fingers), Telstar BC, (Myself), Rally Review, (Alan Litchfield) and Motorcycle Weekly, (Dave Richmond), under the pseudonym of "Pet-Star-Review-Weekly", totally failed to win the Tug-of War. I think we got past the first heats, though.

I seem to recall there was a timed run on one of the club's smaller bikes, around an obstacle course in the field next to us. There was also a least-favourite-club-member-stuffed-in-a-tractor-tyre rolling game.

There followed a raffle, with big prizes, (huge stuffed animals), beer, music, and drunken pole climbing.

During the festivities, there was a Miss Rally contest, but there was no need for girls to expose their bodies, as the unanimous decision of the multitude was for the girl who wrote off the Laverda, especially when she announced, on stage, that she was very, very, sorry.

On the Monday, just before we left, the shop that lent the doomed bike let us see the damage done too it, having hidden it away from us until that point.

Strangely, despite it being a Bank Holiday, it was another bright and sunny day for the trip back over the water to the mainland. As most of the cars were going to the Island for the holiday in the morning, the bikes, heading back to the mainland were filling the ferries this time, and any cars had to wait. After that it was straight up the A3 to home, (once I managed to find it from the middle of Portsmouth).

- Phil (the Spill) Drackley