Red Marley 2012 - Class 1


Typically mad scramble to get everything ready.  Got a old worn motorcross rear tyre on the back in case of rain.  Changing tyres is my least favourite task but thank God I did it!  Also fabbed the worlds crudest fender mounting bracket for the front and ziptied onto it a plastic trials mudguard.  Spring-return throttle?  Check.  Ball-ended levers? Check.   Folding footrests? Check.  I wonder how many stock 45s would pass the regulations?

Fixed a monsoon petrol leak on the camper and hit the road.

 Renshaw and I walked the hill before dinner.  Fuck, my mind had completely played down its memory, it was steep and I was bricking it.  I could could hardly climb up the pimple (jump right near the top).  There were loose rocks the size of Ralph's head at the top [in hindsight they didn't stay there very long] and brambles.

  I slept for 10 mins that night.


Renshaw cooked breakfast.  It was delicious.  I couldn't eat anything.

Practice started at 9am.  Two runs each rider. I was more nervous than I have been in about 5 years, and that's only because I can only remember about 5 years back.  Fortunately the other class 1 riders were happy to act as surrogate therapists for the morning.

Cruised up in second gear.  Changed down to first just before the pimple and chugged up to the top.  Made it up, the elation was something else.

This is Eric Clarke, Class 1 rider, 1949 Matchless 500.  Eric is very funny and prone to falling over, especially with a trials rear tyre.


Mike Mellstrom, Matchless 350, first year on the hill.  Sean Walsh, AJS 350, came 4th in the final.

Second practice run I did the same thing and just made it up, had to push for the last two feet with my two feet.

 Eric didn't.

The track down the hill was harder than the one going up.  Bumpy and slippery, old bikes were dropping like flies.  I fell over twice.  The second time I was pinned under the handlebars and burnt my hand reaching the kill switch trapped under the engine. 

Also ripped my trousers at the crotch so went back and made a little bollock protector.


And a kill switch.

 Last year's winner - Malcolm Russell - Aeriel 500

The loyal supporters came for a good laugh

For my first heat of the day I was up against this bike.  It's beautiful and wiped the floor with me.  I was also up against Eric and fighting for second as two would go through to the semi-finals.

 Joe Priestly, 64, Norton 490.

It rained all morning and all afternoon.  After 300 practice runs it was already a mud-bath.

My first run.  2nd gear was great on the lead up and I powered into second place.  Was losing revs so jammed it down into 1st gear before the pimple.  You can see me bouncing on the pegs trying to get grip.

Eric also fell but I was higher up the hill and so through to the semis.  Getting the bike off the muddy hill was an absolute nightmare.  I was sweating like a pig.  Sweating like a blind lesbian in a fish shop.  ha ha ha.

Straight into the second run.  Jammed down from second gear into first but it was too sudden and I lost all grip.  By the time I found it I had lost too much momentum, the bike chugged up but ran out of steam.  The other riders were seasoned professionals and were up in about 30 seconds.  I couldn't have handled another race.



 Trevor Hodges - BSA B40 350

 Vincent Priestly - 1936 BSA 500

 1949 Matchless 500

All bikes get another shot in the allcomer's round in the afternoon.  Red face Dave  talked me into it.  I was up against a modern bike and 72 year old Roger Gagg on a Triumph 650.  Again, he absolutely demolished me.

I was going to try it all in 2nd gear to avoid the sudden change and loss of grip but I was losing revs and couldn't stop my arm from changing down.

It was like driving on a massive plate of soup and I ran out of grip at the top of the pimple.  I was barely moving at the bottom so God knows how I managed the last 20 feet.

It was real fun.  That amount of adrenaline and nerves is a test but truly a great weekend.  Thanks to Renshaw for looking after me and everyone who came to support.

Photographer for Classic Bike.


See you next year for more advanced falling off.

(most photos by Renshaw)