First report of the Peak Rallies Les Hobbs attended 1970 - 1977, Stockport and District MCC, held in Edale, Peak District.
Those French camping Gaz people must have had it in for us Brits.
One of my early rallies, and one I tried hard not to miss in later years; a real cracker for us hardy types. I still recall my first clearly: I attended with my friend Andy Hawthorne (500cc Velo Clubman) in 1970.
We had a Wakefields ex army bivi (great expense £3.00), no ground sheet, 6 pegs one at each corner, and two guide ropes. Real basic type of thing. A cheap sleeping bag, bought from the local market, and a camping Gaz stove. No pans, just heat the tins up! It was always the same; half a loaf of bread, a tin of baked beans and a tin of hot dog sausages. Make sandwiches while it was still tepid. Those French camping Gaz people must have had it in for us Brits. It took a week to boil a kettle! Enough said.
We set off Saturday midday, not too far about 70 miles. I was on my Velo MAC 350cc, well under powered to try and keep pace with a Clubman. It was at this early stage that I realized that I was not a road racer and would never be a TT racer. I was trying really hard to keep up with Andy, when he roared round a tight, blind left hander. I tried to follow but failed, ran wide and was on the wrong side of the road. Thank God nothing was coming the other way. The life saver was a farmer's trackway and open gate! I picked the bike up straight, braked hard and finished up vertical. It's wise to know your limits and capabilities.
We found the rally site in the mystical valley just over Mam Tor. After turning off the A625, as instructed by the castrol signs nearly every rally used in those days, it was easy to miss the turn if you didn't know where it was or missed the sign. Up over Mam Tor and down the hillside, along the narrow hedge lined tracks and into the small village of Edale, under the railway bridge, past the Church Hotel and, just as the road pettered out, we were directed to the left through an open gate into the field.
We got off the bikes and signed in and gladly drank the free hot coffee. It was cold now as the sun started to set and we went to look at the array of bikes. There seemed to be a lot of Vincents and it turned out that the V.O.C. had organised a camping weekend same time, same venue. Not a problem really as there were only in the region of 140 people all told. Just as we were getting ready to go to the pub a Vincent/Steib outfit came in with that many spotlights on it floodlit the whole field. It must have been the first bike that I had seen with a 12volt conversion. There was a car alternator on the sidecar chassis being belt driven from the crank - very tidy.
We walked the 45 yards to The Old Nags Head at the head of the village and had a great night drinking, listening to tales and later singing rugby songs and limericks. The ground was hard and cold and I don't think I got more than an hours sleep. Trying to get further down in my sleeping bag I pulled more of it up around my neck then straightened out slightly RRIIPP! I tore the bottom seam and both of my feet went out the bottom of the sleeping bag! I lay there shivering and vowed to buy an airbed and a better sleeping bag, a better tent and a better stove.
- Les Hobbs