John Adams is a genuine Motorcyclist. Although now aged 80, he has only rarely been without a motorcycle since the age of 15.
Being experienced on two or three wheels, British or Japanese or Italian, large or little, his favourite must have been the Triumph Thunderbird and Busmar Astral double adult sidecar outfit which he rode everywhere for many years.
John Adam's outfit with two of John's children before he took them on a ride to the top of Clee Hill to see some really thick snow in 1969 or 1970.
As a keen T.T. Supporter he attended 26. As a keen Rallyist he attended 17 Dragon Rallies. As a keen Clubman, he was a founding member of the Tenbury Wells Motorcycle Club, which specialised in local Motorcycle Display-Team antics at summer shows.
Finding out that the first ever Shamrock Rally was to be held around Easter in 1968, John needed a willing passenger for the journey down to a far corner of Southern Ireland. Another club stalwart, Danny Baldwin, ace welder, real ale taster, and also a Cavalier member of the 'Sealed Knot' agreed to hold the third wheel down. Plans were laid for a journey to the village of Anascaul, somewhere down on the Dingle Peninsula in Eire.
Journeying to Holyhead was uneventful, but John had his heart in his mouth later as he watched his beloved outfit being loaded onto the ferry, inside a cargo-net, and would have to endure the same for the return trip across the Irish Sea. It took ages later to remove rope-burn marks from the sidecar's paintwork.
Upon arrival at Dublin, another surprise awaited at Customs. Because the U.K. had only recently managed to stamp out Foot and Mouth Disease, the Irish Customs insisted that any food must be left at dockside.
Sideways comments were made by many passengers who said that the Customs personnel would have a free feast later, but of course, the restriction was reluctantly understood.
Riding through the heart of Eire down to the Dingle Peninsula was trouble free and it was interesting to see that the use of horses was still common.
At the Rally at Anascaul only two things are remembered with any clarity (after 50 years). Every other house on the main street was either a shop or a pub, and at a gathering in one was seen an elderly Irishman seated near the bar. On the bar was a row of pints of Guinness which had been bought for him by the motorcyclists.
John and Danny's leaving of Anascaul on Sunday morning was short-lived, literally. Only a few miles were covered of the long road to Dublin when the Triumph lost power. It seemed to John that he only had about one eighth of throttle; or did the Triumph just want to stay in Eire a little while longer?
Other motorcyclists stopped to help and the points were re-set a couple of times to no avail. Then a saviour appeared. None other than Stanley Woods, yes, THE Stanley Woods stopped to help, and when it was thought that the fault could not be cured by the roadside, he offered to tow the outfit all the way to Dublin with his car.
Danny had been calmly sat in the sidecar enjoying a few smokes while all the diagnostic shenanigans were going on, but suddenly shouted " SPARKS, SPARKS! ". There was the culprit, a trapped wire in the sidecar shorting out.
So Stanley Woods' kind offer of a tow to Dublin was not required. John and Danny returned to Dublin Docks to find that the men employed to load the ferry were on strike. All the motorcyclists then found a place to sit or lie, until about midnight when they were all woken --- strike over and the bikes were loaded.
Upon arrival at home, John had just enough time to say 'Hello' to his wife and children, then put on overalls, jump back on the Outfit and go to work by 7.00 am. John and Danny would have tales to tell next Thursday clubnight.
- Tim Hall
My most sincere congratulations to Tim Hall for his brilliant reporting of the 68 Shamrock rally, as well as my utmost respect to veteran John Adams!
This superb piece deserves to be highlighted again. With this in mind I am adding an archive photo taken at the meeting.
This image seems to reflect that era so well. Perhaps among our many readers, there are those who could shed more light, (or even put names), to the three guys shown here?
- Jean-Francois Helias