1999 Club Rally
King of the Rally 1999
Robert and family with their 1944 Indian Chief Outfit
A Report on the Twenty-first Annual Rally - 1999
I awoke on the Saturday morning feeling more than a little guilty
for having told those several long distance rallyists that had rung on the Friday,
that the weather forecast was for pleasant biking weather - for it was fair
bucketing down.But the rally must go on, so into the hoon-mobile went the trophies,
the rally packs, and all the supporting administrative paraphernalia, and then
down to the site.
It was "Tent City", with many of those of a relaxed life style having already set up camp, and despite the early hour the crowds were milling. So it was into it: handing out the packs; coping with the late entrants; gulping down the coffee; making the last minute adjustments - and starting to get concerned. One hundred and thirty bikes later we'd run out of badges ("no sir you can't have a badge if you don't enter the rally"); we'd sold 160 dinner tickets (after I'd ordered tables and chairs for an optimistic 140) and it was still raining ("no sir you can't park your wet oil dripping beast on the carpet! Would you at home?"). It cleared a bit and John Gough got the gymkhana events underway (winners as listed elsewhere) and Ross Everitt fired up the BBQ. Things were looking under control. TJ Dunn called the marshals together; Pole Bland briefed the riders; and they were off, around the Gundaroo/Murrumbateman loop - with an optional watering stop at the George Harcourt Inn. Then, back for judging in the big hall (hired just in case it rained - and of course it didn't).
It was when all the bikes were echoing in that it became apparent just how many there were. There were Ray Guns in abundance, with about twenty BSA/Triumph pushrod Triples (the feature bike for the rally) all up: two cross breed X75 Hurricanes and the rest Rocket IIIs and Tridents in equalish numbers. Post-war classics were the biggest category with about 50 bikes - entirely British in origin (excepting for a smattering of BMWs and Bultacos) and with Triumph being the dominant marque, but closely challenged in numbers by BSA and Norton. In the modern category (about 25 bikes) there was competition to the British dominance by the Europeans (BMWs and a "Pasta Glide") and the Japanese (Hondas, Kawasakis, and a Yamaha) in combination, but they were held off - with Triumph again being the main marque.There were a couple of BSA M20s in the military class, and a perverse range of chairs (AJS; BMW/Steib; BSA; Guzzi; Indian; and Matchless). As the latter lined up, Ollie Walker's G80 caught fire, with Ian Berick's quick action with the fire extinguisher averting a disaster.There was also a diversity in the pre-war category, with Harley being the dominant marque, but with AJS, Ariel, BSA, Calthorpe, Douglas and Velocette being amongst the others.
The veteran category offered thin pickings (in terms of numbers rather than quality) especially after Salty declined to bring his Sun out in the rain; and with Eric Larsen's Triumph bearing more than a passing resemblance to a H-D Low Rider!! There were a few more bikes (seven) in the vintage class - including Indians, a Grindlay Peerless and a Dunelt. The voting slips were out, with close inspection being required to pick the winners. At the same time sponsors and coerced "experts" were also wandering the hall with furrowed brows picking the best Triples, Triumph, Ariel, Matchless/AJS and sporting interest.
But that may have been the easy part - an unprecedented number of Club members brought their bikes forward in the Personal Restoration category. As Paul Dunster was later to remark at the Rally Dinner, they were all of a superb quality and deciding between them was a tough task. A full listing of the winners follows, with the presentations being made at the evening dinner. Waine Summerfield did his usual great job as Master of Ceremonies, and President Paul gave a series of eloquent speeches. Joe Fallon's words in response, where he compared our efforts favourably with those of international rallies he had attended, was praise enough to make it all (almost) worthwhile.
Following the roast meal (with the on-site feed certainly encouraging active participation) it was back to it - to finish off the Around Australia groups raffle draws, the last of the trophies, and finally two major Club awards, being:
Clubman of the Year which was awarded to John Broad; and
Life membership, which was awarded to Peter Barges (along with special thanks to Nerida).
Thanks are also due to the trophy sponsors:
Working Mens Gear (the King of the Rally Akubra);
Neil Sharp Marine (King of the Rally trophy);
Triumph Enthusiasts Register (Best Triumph);
the Aerial Register (Best Aerial);
Dunster Automotive Best Sporting Interest);
Ross Everitt (Best Matchless/AJS; and the "Light up with Lucas" Hardluck Award);
Harry Julian ("Top Sheila" and Best Junior);
and Barbi Osborne (Best Exhaust Note).
The late evening "adult entertainment" came in the form of a
legless acrobatic display - a five scar effort.
Sunday was for riding: to Lanyon homestead for morning tea (organised by Peter Flynn); to the Cotter Reserve for a drinks stop (organised by John Sever); and then on to the National Motorcycle Museum for lunch and a visit (organised by Al Shires). It was a day of good riding, without major incident - although the backup vehicles were doing a shuttle service. Bernie Medway, on an ancient hand-change Norton, performed a bit of stunt riding for the assembled throng at the museum - I'm not sure if it was his flowing grey beard or his L-plate that caught in the wheel, but fortunately it was without damage.
Numbers started to deplete from this point, and it was only the "hard core" that made it to the Pushbike Museum to entertain the hushed fellow diners with tales of past rallies - and with much the same set (along with a number of locals) reassembling for the Monday morning ride. This evolved via a "steering committee" into a ride up Mt Ainsley, to Old Parliament House, to the Mt Stomlo Observatory, and the long route back. Notable for their presence were a brace of Dunster bikes, with the brothers to be admired for their trust and enthusiasm in lending out their machines to comparative strangers. Lunch, cleaning, packing, drinking, counting, and discussing how to do it better next time followed.
And then ahhhhhhhhhhh, relief, it was all over.
It seemed to go not too bad, and whilst there were a swag of helpers (too many to name) in addition to those already mentioned above that were buying, booking, cooking, buttering, baking, banking, cleaning, loading, moving, marshaling/sweeping, recording, packing, arranging, fetching, wrenching, trailering, cussing and encouraging, particular thanks are due to: Ross Everitt, Ernie Seary, and Lyn Randall who were at it for the long haul. (You'd be surprised at just how much effort it takes).
And speaking of long hauls, thanks are also due to the multitude of rallyists, in particular the "black-hand gang" (stained by wet gloves) who trekked in through heavy storms from the far reaches of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. I hope you all had a good time - I certainly enjoyed your company. Meanwhile, ride safe and I hope we'll see you next year.
de facto "Rally Boss"Australia Day 1999