VMCC South Durham

The South Durham Section of the Vintage Motorcycle Club

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The Italian Trip

Written by Brian Smith

The South Durham Section and friends in Forin Climes

Now we like to go to Forin Climes to spread joy and enlightenment to Foriners who havn’t been lucky enough to be English like wot we iz.

So myself and the little fella took Poppa Beale to Ariel Artzori’s mobile wine festival, sorry rally, in the Dolomites, via the Black Forest, well we never go anywhere in a straight line.

John and myself had a very pleasant ride to Hull on warm sunny Sunday last April 25th. where we met Dennis at the pub under the Humber Bridge for victuals and liquid sustenance before we had to endure two weeks of, I can’t say it, LAGER ugh. Here we put our bikes in Dennis’s van for the journey to the Black forest and all points south. Now before you say anything about Puffs, Nancy Boys and van driving softies, long journeys abroad on old bikes hold no fears for us boys we’ve been there and done it many times but purely for practical purposes one day in a van is equal to two and a half days riding avoiding Motorways and large conurbations. So that’s told you!

We landed in Rotterdam at 8.30 am the following morning and by 6.00pm chauffer Beale had us safely ensconced in an excellent Gasthoff in Tittisee at a Mike Carruthers pleasing price of 24 Euros a night. Was that for all of you though?  MC (of Jock descent)

We had three excellent days riding in the Black Forest visiting the ski slopes, all the highest peaks and delighting the locals with our trio of British iron,1939 Ariel,1935 Norton and 1929 Ariel. One day I noticed on the map a small road with a red dotted line in it, now for you uninitiated in Forin travel, this means a road with limited opening times, a magnet for Vintagents in Forin Climes. Before we reached this promised land we stopped for a drink, as you do, wandering round this mountain hostelry idly  in the warm spring sunshine, lager ugh in hand, I realised we were at the source of the mighty river Danube, turned out nice again. Upon leaving our mountain refuge we took to the afore mentioned red dotted road which was indeed closed for winter by a barrier, hah! We professionally ignored that riding round the barrier with consummate ease and were rewarded with a delightful forest drive only briefly interrupted by the remains of snow drifts which added interest to the proceedings. From there we visited the largest cuckoo clock in the world followed by a very pleasant ride back to Titisee on empty roads through rolling countryside and forest.

The first part of our little Forin tour had been extremely pleasant and trouble free we looked forward to more of the same in Italy. If anyone is planning to visit the Black Forest this time of year between the winter sports season and the summer season has many advantages.

Early on Friday April 30th we left Titisee for Uboldo just north of Milan through the St Gottard pass after being robbed by the Swiss to use the motorway, robbin gets, they use ours for nowt, we should charge them. We were fed and watered, or should I say wined and dined for two days at the Ariel club house by Ariel and the other generous Italian Arielists along with the other entrants from all over the world, and a Bavarian!, of whom more later. This hospitality included a ride out to a local May Day festival for, guess what “refreshments” and then back to Ariel’s Ariel show where most of the bike’s were Ariel’s Ariel’s, oh and of course “refreshments”.

Early Sunday we set of for rally destination at Lavarone via Lake Garda, well that was the plan but our group leader Herr Gruppen Fuhrer Bachmann had other plans. We were led through the maze of the Milan suburbs by a group of Italians, otherwise we would have still been there, and as usual with a large group we got split up, but we knew where we were now mmm. The Fuhrer led us down the wrong valley, there are very few roads join these valleys because the mountains between are so high, when we finally convinced him he was wrong he still wanted to go the wrong way, so I took over and led us to lunch arriving at three o’clock just as everyone else was leaving. Typical, the Germans start things but the English have to finish them off, Krauts! We arrived at Lavarone after 230 miles, not the planned 150 but we had a much better ride through the mountains. Don’t tell Werner.

Our hotel was at 1200 metres so as you can imagine we had to go down to most places and then go up again, into the cloud out of the cloud, up to the snow down to the valley up to the snow, marvelous. The next 5 days consisted of great roads, great views, great food and wine and a great load of owld scroats on owld bikes. We had a couple of wet days but it did not stop the real motorcyclists getting some spectacular motor cycling in. One of the highlights being the day Dennis and myself rode up to over 2000 meters while some of boring  farts waited for lunch, they missed a treat.

We returned to Uboldo on Saturday 8th of May, this time via Lake Garda for “refreshments” and a farewell meal at the Ariel club, farewells were said, invitations to visit other forin lands were offered and another successful vintage motorcycle trip ended, well almost.

We stayed in a hotel on the Rhine of the way home, very nice, not too expensive, good food but I think the owner used to be an S.S. man instructing Dennis to write clearly and when this did not happen enquiring if Dennis was a doctor due to his poor script, very funny.

Turned out nice again.  Brian




Sunday Trail Ride

 Trail Ride Sunday 28/03/10

Written by Brian Smith

It was beginning to look like I was going by myself as the lame excuse brigade whimpered their sorry tales.

One was going to London, why, the most wet, cold, miserable trail ride is infinitely more desirable than an over crowded dirty scum hole full of thieving toe rags and foreigners. Another went to Poland to get out of it. I can see the reason for that, Poland is empty; all the scrounging buggers are here. One even had to sell his bike because he didn’t want to upset people, you’ll never get anywhere in life by not upsetting people me-lad. The only half decent excuse was young Robbo who was going out on the pop, even that was very iffy.

As usual it turned out nice again, Mick Mosely rang up and said he was coming on his B.S.A. B40, and a new member Richard Blackburn wanted to come on his Tiger Cub and so for the first time in many years a 100% turn out of British iron met at Barton lorry park. We were just about to leave when my telephonic communication device alerted me to the fact someone wanted speakings, it was the hero young Robbo who had forgot to change his timepiece, you can always trust a Robinson not to be trustworthy. We arranged to meet him at 11am at Reeth.

At he end of the first trail the B40 was smoking like a gud un, obviously the new valve guides Mick had just fitted were not of the best quality and may have been of foreign extraction, and the front brake on the Cub had ceased to function, but there was no noticeable difference in braking performance.

Reeth was gained with no drama, just wonderful panoramic views in every direction. Richard had to top up his Cub with his spare fuel already, worrying when there's no more to be had and even more worrying the monkey hanger turned up.

Just after Bainbridge Mick had to detour to Hawes to buy more oil, courtesy of the cheap spares company ltd.

If at first you don't succeed etc, at the fourth attempt this year we finally crossed the Stake Road, two weeks ago it was impassable due to snowdrifts, today, now't, unbelievable. We arrived at Cray with me towing Richard who also had a flat tyre, things were looking up!


We couldn’t find owt wrong with Richard 's tyre and presumed the valve had stuck when he let some air out. After topping up the Cub's tank from the Armstrong we set off to resume our little adventure. At the end of the Roman road our new starters tyre had resumed its lunch time pose, he decided to ride slowly to Hawes where we would fit a new tube at the petrol station. The tyre came off really easily and went on really easily and when we blew it up it popped off the wheel really easily, riding it flat had snapped the bead wire, once again proof of you get what you pay for.


It pays to have friends in remote places; we left the Cub at Eric Alderson's for collection at a later date, and a final treat for Richard on his first ride with us he got to ride on the back of the Armstrong back to Barton. A baptism of fire indeed.

Not only can Richard ride a bike he can also ride one of these abacus things and if Carruthers hasn’t cocked it up there will be some snaps to look at.

Turned out nice again. 




Trail Ride in the Snow

Trail ride on Sunday 21/02/10

Written by Brian Smith

Four hardy souls, and the rest of their boots, gathered at Bland’s corner at 9.30am, well that was the plan, one was late due to having no petrol in his carb. One was late due to having petrol and water in his carb.

As we eventually left it began to snow very lightly, we thought that this dusting could be safely ignored, mmm. We made our way along the little lane near Barton as it got a little heavier, no problem, it was a trifle more interesting as we made or way along the back road to Jagger Lane.

Jagger lane caused no problems but as we emerged onto what should have been tarmac it was white and getting deep so it was suggested we make our way to Telfit via Richmond and Marske where the roads might be less white and slippy.  We climbed up to the Jockey Cap with a few cars behind us including Plod, who must have regarded us as too much paperwork to bother with.

Sliding gracefully into Richmond  where we had a brew at the local mobile greasy spoon where the bird serving was expecting no customers, never mind a bunch of handsome, debonair, sophisticated vintagents. At this point one of our number thought discretion was the better part of valour and decided to return to the bosom of his family, of course the rest of us knew better.

In Richmond  market place a car full of well tanned people of foreign extraction stopped to ask where Richmond cricket field was. Were they early for the new season? Was it a jihad from Lancashire? Were they going to play with coloured balls? Who knows, strange things happen when you go out with the South Durham Section.

As we left Richmond we caught up to a convoy of 4x4,s, please note, caught up, Puffs. Now it got interesting, we slid to the start of the trail on the Telfit road and began our ascent. Well  some did ,others just slid about and one fell off, the first of many such fine displays. We rode gracefully along the moor top, this time actually being able to open the gates, last time we had to lift them off their hinges because the snow was so deep they could not be opened, and descended into Helwith crossing the ford with no early baths, always disappointing.

It was an icy climb out of Helwith with one hero unable to continue after the gate due to lack of friction. Upon reaching Helwith cross roads full of confidence we turned left to drop into Goats splash. As we descended, still on the hidden tarmac I noticed my front wheel was not turning but i was accelerating, now this means only one thing, time to take to the grass, had my erstwhile apprentice noted my actions he may have avoided his ungainly demise as he slid passed in a horizontal pose destroying more imported plastic. As we tried to raise our companion to a vertical position sustaining ones own vertical position became a tad insecure resulting in undignified backside sliding downhill, perhaps a new Olympic event we could win.

A hasty tactical meeting agreed that if we got down, that would be no problem we would definitely get down one way or the other, we may not get back up and as it was well past beer o’clock we returned to the cross roads and turned left for Barningham. Unable to resist a further challenge we turned to cross Barningham moor where many more battles were lost in the continuing war of gravity, regaining the new white tarmac we couldn't resist the lane at the back of Barningham which was accomplished with consummate ease. Still on snow covered roads we passed a car having to be fitted with snow chains to ascend a small hill which the by now  the experienced ice racers easily crested, a final lane at Hutton Magna and eventually onto black tarmac and home safe and warm. Now you will have noticed that no-one has been identified in this literarily masterpiece, so if you can identify the participants and put names to actions there is a valuable prize to be won, generously donated by Michael Carruthers. (I Think not – Mike)

A splendid day out in good company, what more could you want.

Turned out nice again.

A Tale of two Dominators

Written by Bill Birks

Can you spot the difference ?


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