Myself & some mates did the 1978 rally. I was on a CB750/4 Honda. Our group included Pam Hough, Martin Poyner, Jerry Thornton, Pat O'Connor, Barry (Bazil) Rathbone, Little Mickey Jones, who abandoned his Arial Arrow when it seized somewhere around Telford & hopped on the back with someone else. I always wondered if he ever went back for it. There were more people , but I can't recall who they were now.
We arrived on the Saturday, just after lunch. At that point, I thought it was cold. Having no money, we had the cheapest tents you could get. The pegs were the thinnest metal the tent makers could get away with. The ground was frozen solid & the only way we could get the pegs in, was to piddle on the ground first.
The evening fire was warming & the ale was numbing. Waking up in the morning, open the tent flap & into the tent fell the snow.
The camp site was on a hill side & there was soon a tangle of bikes & riders on the floor, near the exit gate at the bottom of the field. We clubbed together & pushed all our bikes up the hill & on to the road.
At this point, they had sidecars trying to shovel grit onto the road, but abandoned the idea & as I recall, we had to await the local council to clear the road before we could leave.
Despite having marigold gloves, silk undergloves, gauntlets & handlebar muffs, I remember the trip back to Brum as probably being the coldest I could get without actually dying. Snowing most of the way.
I got told off by some old bloke for lying on my back in a cafe toilet, with my feet under the hand dryer, trying to warm them up.
It was a "been there, done that" for me & I'm such a wuss that I emigrated to Australia (still ride to work each day).
Greatest respect for those in the early days who went each year without heated vests, handlebar grips etc etc.
- Mark Thornton