My First Rally

The Sabre Rally was my first rally and as such my reactions were eagerly awaited by the two rallyists who I travelled with Terry Reynolds and Dave Cockerton. Now Terry also happens to be the editor for this rag and I'm still not sure how he persuaded me to write this, but here goes anyway.

The rally was held behind a large pub called the Highwayman, about eight miles east of Chesterfield so I didn't have to go too far. We travelled up the A6 to Derby and onto the A61 to Chesterfield. Being the smallest of the three bikes, 750 Honda, 450 Honda, 350 AJS, I would have been the slowest anyway but I was also running in a new bore and piston so 45mph was the order of the day. Ugh!

Although it was a nice sunny day it was very cold so we stopped at a pub on the outskirts of Derby and warmed up with a ploughman's and a pint. Having left Leicester at 11.00am we arrived as part of a large convoy at 2.00pm (I told you we were slow).

The rally was being held by the 619 Club and we went to their control to book in and for Terry to collect his badge. Dave and I had not pre-booked so out badges were to be posted to us.

After a cup of hot chocolate (this was free) to warm ourselves up we pitched the tent. We were lucky to find a sheltered spot in the lee of a wall because the wind was fair howling across the hillside. We were welcomed to the site by Mick Tribe and Richard Jones of our club who had travelled up before us. About an hour later Ben Crossley Chugged up on his Matchless 350 and promptly set up his tent in front of us.

Dave, Terry and myself wandered around the site to look at the bikes. This seemed to be the most popular activity because although there was a concours d'elegance and a concours d'grot competition going on there did not seem to be much interest in this. Although we did notice that there were more machines entered for the d'grot than the d'elegance.

The Corby and Kettering Club had arrived the night before and we made arrangement with them to meet Saturday night in the pub. There was also a large contingent from the Honda Owners Club judging by the large number of 500Ts that they turned up on.

There were about 600 present; British and Japanese bikes seemed evenly matched but there was also a couple of Harleys and a few B Ems. There were some very interesting machines there including a couple of very old Velos and a BSA vee twin.

After our walk round we returned to our tent to play Mastermind. I don't know why but the 'masterminds' were al setting the code, not breaking them, even though we all had a go. The pub was opening at 6.30 and we had to drag Ben away from the game to get there on time.

The delicious smell from the hot-dog wagon tempted us all and so by the time we arrived at the bar it was about ten deep with very thirsty bikers. After fruitlessly hanging around for a while we decided to move on to the next pub; but as luck would have it, as we went out of the door the landlord came up the steps carrying two crates of nectar, sorry, light ale. When asked if he wanted to sell them he replied "Anything to avoid having to carry them past that queue."

"How much?" asked Terry.

"£3.50 each."

"Have you got any change?"


"We'll take them both then." said Terry, kissing £7 goodbye.

"Think I'll go before it's my round." quipped Ben.

We spent the rest of the night drinking, singing, visiting the bonfire, drinking, singing, drinking, drinking, drinking hic! Pardon.

That's the advantage of having a campsite behind a pub - you can get plastered without having to worry about riding home, just how to find the loo and the tent. In that order.

After breakfast of beefburgers and beans we rode through the Peak National Park to Matlock where we stopped for coffee. As it had started to snow we hurried home.

MY VERDICT. Apart from the ride on a bike with a top speed of 45mph, why haven't I been on a rally before? I thoroughly enjoyed myself and recommend it to anyone who enjoys touring and camping.


Steve White