Friday 29 August 2014

Job done!

The RALWS project is now at an end as the little C110 has gone to a new home.  The sale price has been added to the sponsorship total bringing it to almost £6.5k.  Just as important as the money raised has been the opportunity to increase the awareness of prostate cancer, and the response to this has been great throughout the project.

This success wouldn't have been possible without the support of others though.  So a big thank you to all of you who have donated sponsorship or contributed to the project.  It is really appreciated.

A particular mention needs to go to V-Ten motorcycles for their advice and help during the restoration and with selling the bike.  Piston Broke Engineering and Griff's Reality Motorworks also gave much appreciated support during the restoration.  David Silver Spares helped me with publicity, as did Bertie Simmons at Classic Motorcycle Mechanics. Bertie edited together a three page article on the bike from the information I sent him.  It has made a huge difference to raising awareness and really helped with selling the bike.

Garry and Scott Clark kindly assisted in getting some of the important spares shipped over to the UK from the US. Achieving the standard of finish that the project deserved wouldn't have been possible without their help in sourcing the exhaust parts.

The ACU National Road Rally organisers helped in publicising my project (thanks to Alison in particular).  I've been confirmed as achieving a Silver award and have also been kindly awarded the Spirit of the Rally award.  It's a great event and a lot of fun to partake in.  It'll be held on the first weekend in July during 2015, so give them a follow on Facebook or Twitter and get your entry in early when they start accepting them next year.  I've got it in the calendar already and will be entering on my '67 BSA.  In 2015 Gold will be mine!

Bristol and Avon Roadrunners MCC manned the Chipping Sodbury control on the National Road Rally, which was my start point.  When they realised that I was doing the run for charity they kindly decided to collect for Prostate Cancer UK during the rally, ending up making a contribution of over £70 to the sponsorship total.

Covent Garden Laminates made up the number plate logos for the front of the bike and did a really nice job of it too.

David Casper at the National Autocycle and Cyclemotor Club was very helpful in liaising with the DVLA to regain a V5 for the bike.  They're a large club with some very helpful and knowledgeable members.

Adam Beaumont came up with the logo, based on a photo of my Dad taken during the 1964 rally, and that helped with creating a bit of an 'identity' for the project. It was important to me to have that link back to Dad's efforts all those years ago.  Thanks Adam.

And finally, my very patient wife!  She's been extremely understanding and supportive during this project and for that I'm extremely grateful.

If you happen to have a C110, or one of the related models, and require any spares then please get in touch with me as I have quite a few left over which are for sale.

Friday 1 August 2014

For sale!

With the rally over, and having had a few weeks off to recover, I've now given the little Honda a good service.  With the points readjusted it's now running as well as it ever has, and I quite enjoyed the commute to work on it one day this week.

So now comes the hard part.  It was always the intention to sell the bike when the rally was completed, with me donating the sale price to the sponsorship total (~£3100 so far!).  It will be hard to part with it, after having put so much effort into restoring it, but I'm sticking to the original plan.

It is difficult to peg it's worth, as they don't come up for sale often in a restored state.  Project bikes, like this was at the start, usually go for ~£500 which is what I paid.  The only restored bike for sale which I'm aware of was originally sold at auction for £2000, although it is currently listed on Ebay for £5000!

I know what I think the bike is worth, and I'm open to offers.  It has been thoroughly restored, as the story on this blog and the article in this months Classic Motorcycle Mechanics will testify.  It is not a concurs restoration, but it has been restored to what I feel is a high standard.

V-Ten motorcycles in Thornbury have very kindly offered to display the bike in their shop, so if you are local you can have a look at it in the flesh.  Alternatively if you would like any other information on the bike, or additional photos to support the ones on the blog, then please get in touch with me here.

Finally, who ever does buy the bike will know that through their purchase a sizeable donation will have been made to a charity that are working very hard to reduce the numbers of men that die from prostate cancer each year (~10,000 at the moment).

C110 post-rally

C110 ready for the rally 

Freshly restored 

 Freshly restored 

Freshly restored 

Friday 11 July 2014

My rally

It's quite a few days since the rally now and the aches and pains have faded.  The rally was a great experience, and much more enjoyable than I thought it would be.  The ride was broken into short enough legs that it wasn't tedious and everyone I met was friendly and willing to chat.  There was a real sense of camaraderie.

I started from Chipping Sodbury, and Dad met me there to see me off.  We had a nice chat with the Bristol and Avon Roadrunners MCC who were manning the control, as well as Adrian a fellow participant.

Photo: Derek Freegard

At the strike of midday I politely grabbed my control card and was off as quick as the little Honda would allow.  The run through to Swindon, the first stop, was good fun and probably the part of my route that was best suited to the little Honda.  On the tight lanes I even got held up by a Mercedes estate at one point, didn't think I'd end up being quicker than anyone else on the road!

A quick stop at Swindon and I was on my way to Kettering via Carterton, Bicester and Milton Keynes (the control point was at a BMX track and it was tempting to do a lap). By the time I had reached Kettering I was 20 minutes up on my threshold time for Gold, mainly due to a couple of the legs being predominantly dual carriageway.

The downside of the dual carriageway (other than the speed difference to the rest of the traffic) was that it didn't really hold my attention very well, which allowed my mind to wander to discomfort in my back and wrists.  Both were quite uncomfortable at this point so I varied my riding position.  As well as getting into a proper racing tuck (which added a few mph onto the top speed) I tried out some other new riding positions.  I settled on one where I rested my elbows on my knees, taking the strain off both my back and my wrists.  It was pretty effective but it took a while to adapt to having my upper body 'joined' to my lower half.  My brain took a good few miles to work out how to steer the bike properly!

I had a half hour stop at Kettering before pushing on to St Neots, a cracking ride along the B645 which would have been better with a few more bhp.  From there it was a fairly uneventful trip down the A1, popping off when it became the A1M, on the way to Stevenage.

The Stevenage control was at Bike Stop, a bike shop in the old town. The welcome there was one of the warmest, and they were well kitted out with drinks and sandwiches.  Unfortunately, by this point, my 20 minute 'advantage' was being eroded.  Partly due to the smaller roads when I came off the A1 but also as the bikes performance was dropping off.  Possibly due to heat but the points gap had closed up as well.  I'd had a quick look at Kettering but decided not to adjust the points.  I resolved to ponder this over on the next leg.
If I'd had more time in hand then I'd have taken a proper rest at Bike Stop, they were friendly and interested in the bike (and why I was riding it).  I felt a bit rude having to rush off but I think it was understood why.

Photo: Bike Stop

From Stevenage it was the longest leg (40 matrix miles), to the Chiltern Golf Course near Tring.  Naturally this was the part of the overall route that had the most hills, and the Honda was struggling up some of them.  I decided to show some mechanical sympathy and found a rev/gear combo at which she'd pull up the slopes without being too strained.  It did mean sacrificing time though, travelling at 20mph up some hills.

Again, it was a warm welcome from the chaps manning the control but after a quick chat with Jim it was time to push on.  By this stage I had only 15 minutes in hand and I was about to embark on what would be the slowest stage of the rally, heading into London.

I had considered avoiding London completely but having constrained myself to the south and the south east to avoid the hills (Chilterns excluded) I needed to go into London to get the mileage up.  It also felt 'right' as the route through to Watford and then the Ace Cafe would take me past the street in Harrow where Dad lived when he did the rally 50 years ago, I'd be travelling the same roads as he had.  Although Dad's most popular hang out in the 60's was The Busy Bee he'd also spend quite a bit of time at the Ace Cafe.  How could I not include it on my route?!  I'd planned on taking a 30 minute rest stop there.

I got a bit of a shock when I arrived at the Ace though.  It looked like a scene out of The Fast and the Furious, with plenty of loud and low cars with flaming exhausts and excessive bass.  It turns out that these days the Ace is a hang out for petrol heads of any type.  I checked in and then pushed the bike through to the cafe, planning on checking the points.  It was immediately clear that this wasn't the place to do any spannering, there was far too much going on to distract me.  And I was glad for that as I had one of the most enjoyable 30 minutes of the rally.  I pretty much immediately got accosted by a tall, long haired and very happy Dutch chap called Bart, accompanied by his mate Chris.  Apart from when I dived off to get a coffee we spent the time chatting about bikes/mopeds/cars and by the time I left I was on quite a high.

There was a bit of a crowd lining the road on the way out, watching the cars hoon past and the occasional sports bike hoist a wheelie.  Sure enough I got the universal sign, both hands palms up being jerked skywards, a tongue in cheek command to lift the front.  As I rode past I made a good show of bouncing the front suspension up and down, gave a pantomime shrug and rode off to the sound of a quick cheer and loud laughter.

Coming out of London it was obvious that it was unlikely that I would get the Gold.  Progress on the country lanes was slow, the C110 has 6V electrics and the headlight was about as effective as an elderly glow worm.

What finally put an end to getting a Gold was passing through Henley, on the way from Bagshot to Abingdon.  Unknown to me it was the weekend of the Henley regatta and the town was at a standstill as masses of people moved from pub to pub.  I filtered as far as I could but with the crowds spilling onto the street I ended up sat in the queue, alongside a Police motorcyclist.  I had a quick chat with him before engaging in some banter with a couple of very smartly dressed, and very inebriated lads.  They shouted over to me saying they were impressed that I had an iPad attached to my bars!  I took a little time to convince them that actually it was a sheet of paper and a book light.  "Old school!" was the exclamation when they finally accepted I was telling the truth.

Most of the controls on the rally are manned.  Groups of people, sometimes from bike clubs, set up stall in a layby or wherever they can and man the control through the rally.  There are a few that are manned by just one, incredibly dedicated, person.  Without these volunteers the rally would not be possible and the participants are very grateful to them for the time they dedicate to it.  Unsurprisingly it can be hard to find enough volunteers to cover all the controls and so some end up being unmanned.  These controls are usually at a 24hr petrol station, and you show evidence of having been there (a receipt) at your next manned control.  Unfortunately the 24hr petrol station in Abingdon decided not to serve anyone in the early hours of Sunday morning!  So, having taken a photo to show I'd been there, I moved on to Hungerford.

I was scheduled to take a 30 minute rest at Hungerford, but now that Gold had gone I actually had a few hours to kill.  So I stretched out on my back beside the bike and had a rest.  I think I managed 20 minutes kip before waking up, feeling completely refreshed.  It was 04:00 and I only had 50 miles to cover before the final control at Warminster turned into a 'final' control, so I could have stayed there longer.  I decided to get on with it though and hit the road for the last push.  Despite having been riding almost non-stop for 16hrs at this point I felt remarkably good, if slightly chilly.

As I moved on from Hungerford the sky was starting to lighten.  By the time I'd reached Silbury Hill on the A4 the sun was close to peeking over the hills casting a dim light over the landscape, just enough to show the fields had a layer of mist.  It was a really nice sight, and I was tempted to stop, sit and watch the sunrise. Instead I decided to press on to the next control, just beyond Devizes.  I had a quick stop there and headed straight for the final control at Warminster.

The final control didn't become active as such until 6am and as I had an hour in hand I sat in a layby waiting to end the rally.  Come five to six I fired the bike up again and rode the last half mile to the services at Warminster.  I had a mixture of emotions as I parked up, relief at having completed the rally, slight disappointment at not achieving the distance for Gold and happiness that all the effort had been worthwhile.

Photo: Tim Fairbrother

I had a chat with Tim Fairbrother, who as well as manning the control acted as Clerk of the Course for the rally, handed over my control card and went for breakfast.  A well earned fry up and coffee, with my finishing award for company, whilst waiting for Dad to arrive with the trailer to get me home.

By the time Dad arrived my brain had shut down and my muscles were starting to ache, I was shattered but happy.  We loaded up the trailer and headed home.

I'm taking a few weeks off from tinkering in the garage, it has completely dominated my spare time over the last year in order to get the little C110 ready for the rally.  It was worth the effort but I'm now having a break.  Once I've caught up with some of the jobs round the house and had a rest I'll give the bike a good service and it'll be up for sale.

Being such a rare bike its value is hard to pitch so I'm going to consider what I think it is worth over the coming weeks.  In the meantime, if you would like to own a fun little bike that has a bit of history then please get in touch with me.  All the money from the sale will go to my sponsorship total, which is currently around £2.8k.

Thanks to all those who have sponsored me so far, and if you haven't managed it yet there is still time!

Sunday 6 July 2014


Coffee, breakfast and finishing awards! Success!

The end

I forgot to do an update from Devizes, I had an hours rest at Hungerford and decided to get back on the road a bit earlier.
I'm now sat about a mile away from the final control at Warminster, waiting for six o'clock when it becomes a final control.
So I've made it! I could push it from here if I had to!
Unless I've made a mistake on the route then I should get a silver which is a pretty fair achievement. I'm slightly disappointed that the opportunity for gold slipped away, but I knew it was always an outside chance.
The rally was fun and I met some very friendly people. I would consider doing it again, although maybe next time on my BSA.
Thanks for the messages of support during the rally, I'll check them properly when I get home.


Only fifty more matrix miles to go for silver. I've covered about 365 real miles so far. I can't finish before 6 so am going to take a longer rest here and head off sometime after 4.
Feeling a bit tired now but I'm a lot fresher than I thought I'd be. Main niggles are sore wrists and back but it's quite manageable.
Time for some kip!


20 minutes down now. Not helped by getting stuck in the middle of Henley regatta! On to Hungerford next. Gold has gone so no need to rush. Easy does it from now on.