THE COUNTDOWN TO SCOTLAND
THE COUNTDOWN TO SCOTLAND
Only 1 week to go……….
Having completed this article, and just adding the final touches prior to publishing a random button
must have been pushed and 3 hours plus of intensive one finger typing shot off into the ether never to
be seen again! Once more the digit hits the keyboard in an effort to regain my sanity before humping
the computer through the window!
Sam MBE should be bringing the bike
…….and so it was, “The Sporting Holiday in the Highlands” and all it’s memories and disasters. No, I
wouldn’t want to ride the full 6 days anymore but the thought of the Silver Jubilee Pre 65 has much
appeal despite these hard financial times we are all enduring. Every morning I’m one day closer and
that brings back all those memories of the lead up to the event and all the rituals that had to be done
prior to the start. As the old adage says “Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” and here I’m
feeling somewhat guilty as I’m not preparing the bike that I will be riding.
Going back nearly 40 years the lead up to the “First Week of May” was always the same, and maybe
the reason I was lucky enough to finish all the 8 rides I had in this magnificent event. About March time
the NEW machine was acquired and after a couple of shake down rides it was wheeled into the
workshop to start getting ready for Scotland.
All personal mods, handlebars, levers, footrests etc were fitted and depending on the fuel tank size a
bigger version would be ordered and fitted as the end of Rannoch or Blackwater was no place to be
with an empty tank, and some years the 1 gallon tank was going to be pushing it if the conditions were
continuous mud, peat and water and pouring rain. The bike would be dismantled, looking for any
manufacturer’s weaknesses and then reassembled with a lot of locktite, and many bolts drilled and
wirelocked. Many phonecalls, no cellphones or email back then, to”gurus” and “sages” to see what
they were doing and a lot of advice from an excellent mechanic and RAF riding companion,
The practice wheels out tyre changing and making sure the memory bank knew where all the spacers
went, was done many times and distance pieces were fitted on all the rim locks to speed up the
operation. A first time wheelout on Blackwater is no place to discover “what goes where?”
A regular sight on the Mamore road
Waterproofing and the ignition system were given the big once over with another coil and condenser
mounted somewhere up under the tank and a quick changeover system devised. A lot of time was
spent improving the safety of the aircleaner and making sure that whatever the back wheel pushed
forward it was going to stay out! With the bike in pieces time to fit all the spare cables, as back then
nipples had a nasty habit of pulling off! Suitably taped at both ends to keep out the proverbial they
were routed and taped to the current operating one, and of course a few solderless nipples were
always in the spares tin just in case. In recent years I have only ever had nipples come off a cable on
a road bike, the clutch of course!
The Spanish chain was replaced with the FREE Renolds Racing chain and of course all the oils were
drained and replenished with all the freebies from Duckhams. The universal spare lever was mounted
on a rear downtube and the ever faithful bicycle shorty pump was fitted up front on one of the engine
downtubes. A length of petrol pipe was pushed through the dummy grip leaving an inch or so
protruding for the emergency syphoning if required.
1975, stickers where the knees and thighs rub and the bicycle pump
on the forward downtube
Time for the final touches and the number plates. A quick trip to RAF workshops and after a little
begging for scrap alloy 3 pieces were acquired and cut to size. Many hours spent bending and forming
the back plates as exhaust and silencer system seemed to getting bigger and always in the way and
after all the forming the first spray of the black base coat. Inside the stencils are cut as required for
your own riding number and then the painstaking hand painting of those famous yellow numbers.
Eventually all mounted with anti vibration devices and now time for the final dose of autosol and then
the application of “stickers” ! Now I always thought this was a bit over the top and made the bike look
like a fairground but experience has proven me wrong here as a set of barbour trousers covered in
Scottish peat can destroy alloy and fiberglass in no time. Could even be used to grind valves!
Ah, those Yellow numbers!
Into the last week and time to check all the NEW riding gear from our sponsors. Nice new Blue/White
helmets from Griffon and many readers will remember how the suits changed from the drab olive
green to the colorful TT leathers, and of course we wore the Blue with White sleeves. Then we moved
on to the one piece waterproof suits which were great for riding but did tend to get ripped unlike the
waxed cotton. Boots from Sidi were tried but like all leather boots let the water in and eventually we
went back to the Dunlop Industrial Wellies which were ideal for Six Days of paddling round the
Highlands and at least your feet were dry. Gloves came in 2 types, one heavy duty pair for the long
road sections and a lighter pair for the sections or just bare handed if that’s your bag.
TT Leathers in RAF Blue & White
1975 with the Sidi boots and the Griffon Blue/White helmets
1976 the one piece outfits, and back to the Dunlop Wellies
Also in that last week all the documentation, FIM licence, check the hotel bookings and get the fuel
agency cards from the MTO and make sure the Landrovers were still available.
Well I have the airline tickets, my ACU Licence and the passports, checked the hotel accommodation
at the Onich so just the Hire car to book and all the paperwork is done. Last minute stuff on the riding
gear front, boots by Sidi, not the new pair, stay with the black Yes helmet. I have the new sealskinz
socks so I’m hoping for dry feet in wet boots. I have the BMW rain gear which is superb, lightweight
and absolutely waterproof……. very tempted by the XC-Ting jacket as I use their stuff so a quick trip to
Fort William might be in order on Thursday afternoon, assuming I still have some funds.
If funds stretch the latest jacket from XC-Ting
….. And finally time to pack the Outlaw Toolbelt (kind donation) with all the essentials of tubes, cables,
plugs, chain links, cable ties and the tools we hope never to use.
The Outlaw Belt donated by Dave Rhodes
So this will be the last article prior to the event but I know “IT” will be the source of several episodes to
come with tales of daring do and much drinking, eating and story telling……. and to all those that have
supported this huge operation….THANK YOU.