Southend Shakedown

16th April 2001 - Third Shake


- Phil the Spill

Since it was a 'Rockers Reunion' event I decided to wear my leather jacket as opposed to my multicoloured waterproof oversuit. When I got it on I remembered why I had stopped wearing it - the tab on the zip had broken off, meaning the jacket kept undoing itself. A few minutes of fiddling with a small pair of pliers sorted it out sufficiently to ensure I wouldn't get too cold on the road.

Some time during the weekend the clock on my bike went forward another hour. I set it correctly when the clocks went forward, but it somehow gained an hour on its own (maybe I nudged the button by accident). This is why I thought I was running late on my way to the Ace Café and that is why I was going faster than I should have been up the A40. I was flashed - TWICE. (Well, four times - two flashes from each unit). My only hope is that, as it was Bank Holiday Monday, the cameras had either run out of film, or were dummies. [Note - no tickets were forthcoming.]

When I got to the Ace I checked my watch and adjusted the clock. A few moments later fellow WMA member Dennis Trebble arrived on his Triumph and slotted in just next to my Norton. His was one of the last bikes to get through the gates - the rest had to park outside. He had chosen utility over appearance and had his waterproofs on - not too bad an idea considering the grey clouds overhead, but since I had huge panniers on my bike I was able to stow my waterproofs until they were needed. While we were waiting for the start, the almost audible PA was telling us roughly what the plans were but, as we couldn't hear it, we decided to just 'go with the flow' and follow everybody else.

By the time we left there were HUNDREDS of bikes lined up - I don't think I have ever seen such a large convoy - and most of them were British! Dennis and I managed to stay fairly close together throughout the run, only breaking apart twice; once when I stopped for petrol, (we met again when the run stopped for a regroup/cigarette/wee break), and I lost him again on the outskirts of Southend when his clutch seized up and he couldn't slow down very easily, (we ended up parked not far apart on the sea front). A couple of things stand out from the run, which was, in itself, long and only vaguely interesting. The first was the antics of at least one of the marshals. After stopping the other traffic he would leap about, urging us to drive on through, waving his arms about in a very strange way. The other thing was very embarrassing and involved a set of traffic lights without a marshal. As we approached the lights I thought we were going to blast through them, so gave the bike a twist of the throttle. As we got to the line, the lights changed and the bikes in front of me stopped smartly. If I stop suddenly while accelerating my bike tends to put out a bit of smoke, as the oil pump is clutch-driven and puts far too much oil into the chambers. This particular time there was an incredible cloud emanating from my rear end, (oo-er missus!), which almost enveloped all of us while we waited for the lights to change.

While there, with all the bikes double and treble-parked on both sides of the road for several miles along the seafront, I couldn't escape the feeling that Southend itself was a bit of a dump. I checked out and photographed the bikes for a few hours before heading home.

I think I made a bad choice of routes back to the M25, because my trip home seemed to take forever - even when I managed to get out of town, (the road system there is terrible). I stopped at South Mimms services, where all the facilities seemed to be in large portacabins. As I was leaving there were rather a lot of lads wearing Viking style apparel - sheepskin jacket with horned helmets - possibly football/rugby fans?

Phil Drackley - Phil the Spill