Interesting Article from MPH

Reminiscences

Peter Jones

A fond look back at some of the more unusual, interesting and fascinating articles which have appeared during the past 67 years in MPH, and also a few from our 'fellow Vincent enthusiast' magazine, Motorcycle Sport. 'The Impetuousness of Youth'. Alan Dredge recounts some moments of his life with 'Black Bess', his 1951 Rapide. After several months of ownership, it was time for some basic maintenance. Here, we take up the story part way through the process.

We then looked at the front mudguard. This had never been the same since the Vicar of Birstwith’s Annual Motor Cycle Gala. This was actually rather fun. The Army Signals Team from Ripon was there, and one of the events in which I entered was riding the greasy plank. This was a plank, or rather two planks in line, about a foot wide, devilishly long and liberally covered with thick grease. The whole Army team rode along this thing with only one rider getting to the end of it successfully, so I didn’t hold much hope for my quarter ton of machinery. There was only one possible way for my mount doing it, and that was to accelerate to as high a speed as possible before running on to the plank, and coast to the end. Always the exhibitionist, I opened her up with an impressive roar, snaking slightly on the grass just to let everyone know I had more power than I knew what to do with, and rocketed along the plank like an arrow — successfully! It was the jousting, however, that did the front mudguard in. I was to have a pillion rider standing up on the rear footrests with a long pole carried like a lance. We were to head for a gallows-like contraption which was fitted with a hinged board surmounted by a bucket of water. The board, which was hanging below the bucket, had a hole in it, and the idea was to run the jousting pole through the hole. If you missed you tipped the bucket of water onto yourself.

My bright idea was to do the thing at such a rate that even if the pole didn’t go into the hole we should go through so fast that the water would fall behind us. We went through so fast that we not only missed the hole but the board as well, and although both brakes were fully on in our efforts to stop on the slippery grass, the only way to avoid running straight into the crowd was to lay the machine down on its side. This I managed, but as I have remarked, the front mudguard has never been the same. Another thing that has been niggling for some time is the throttle system. Although it was satisfactory up to the time of the Vicar of Birstwith’s Gala, laying the model down on its side also interfered with the twistgrip. I had fitted an internal spring which helps you to open the throttle, but this contact with terra firma made the spring unwind in a hurry, and has never been mended.