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An Accidental Norton
NACC Wiltshire Section Run, 19 April 2009

Report by Andrew Pattle

Photos by Mark Daniels & Andrew Pattle

Lindsay started it.  "I'm going to the Wiltshire Section Run at Malmesbury: do you want to come? If you can get to mine, we'll go down together and you can borrow one of my Mobylettes."

As it turned out, I couldn't.  Jane was timekeeping at an athletics meeting in Braintree that day and that left me without transport to get from Stowmarket to Lindsay in Hatfield.  So, that was plan A scuppered.

However, Lindsay is nothing if not determined.  A few days later: "I told Danny about the Wiltshire Run and he thinks he might go.  He could pick you up on the way.  I'll take a Mobylette for you to ride."  As I wouldn't be taking a machine to ride, that would leave room in Danny's van to take a bit of jumble along.  Thus Plan B was laid.

Then, the evening before the event, Peter Vaughan 'phoned.  "I've been speaking to Danny; he said you're going to the Wiltshire run tomorrow.  I've decided to go too and I'll take my Lohmann; will you bring yours too?".  This was about 10 minutes before I had to go out to a big family 'do' that evening, so that would leave zero time to get the Lohmann ready.  I agreed to take it, but thought I'd end up riding the Mobylette.

I got up at some ridiculously early time on Sunday morning.  After a bit of breakfast and gathering together all the essentials: helmet, gloves, camera, wallet, &c, I had a few minutes to spare before Danny was due to arrive - long enough to mix a litre of Lohmann fuel "just in case".

Danny arrived with his van loaded so that there was a Lohmann-shaped slot down the side, so in it went, and we were off.  The journey was uneventful, no snarl-ups on the M25, and we found the Red Bull Inn with no trouble

The Start at the Red Bull Inn

Danny's Jumble Picking over the jumble Lohmann and Mercury Mercette 1965 Suzuki Supersports Honda Express Honda 50 James Comet Mobylette NSU Quickly Puch Maxi NSU Quickly AJW Pointer Peter's Lohmann Keith examines the Mercette Lohmann, Mercette and Lohmann Mobylette maintenance in progress

The run

The views of the local scenery when we approached the Red Bull Inn made it look as if the run might have a few hills.  My Lohmann doesn't do hills.  I was more convinced that the Mobylette was the right choice for the ride.

As departure time approached Danny quickly put all his jumble back into the van... without, I couldn't help noticing, leaving the Lohmann-shaped gap.  "Where shall I leave the Lohmann while we're away?"  "Nowhere - you're riding it."

My Lohmann doesn't run as well as they are supposed to - I know this because I've ridden one of Philippa Wheeler's.

Peter and I both got our Lohmanns running and off we went.  By sneaking through a gap in the fence, I engineered a 20 yard head start; if I was lucky I might manage another 100 yards before he overtook me.  But, that didn't happen.  Each time I looked over my shoulder, Peter was about 50 yards behind me.

Then I saw a signpost to Easton Grey.  Wasn't that on the route sheet?  Yes: "Left - Signpost to Easton Grey".  So I turned left thinking "But I don't remember seeing the signpost in the instruction before that".  Never mind, what's next?  "Straight on - Signpost to Easton Grey" ... but when I got to the next junction, Easton Grey was to the left.  Ah, I'd turned too early and must have cut off a corner.  Oh well, I must be going in roughly the right direction, so carry on.  The next signpost matched the route sheet so I hadn't gone too horribly wrong but my inadvertant short cut meant that Peter was now far behind.

Then I read the next instruction: "Straight on at crossroads - signpost Norton".  Norton!

Since Frank Westworth at Real Classic had come up with the idea of the Norton Challenge, I had been toying with the idea of using the Lohmann to take part.  Now, here I was, on a run I hadn't expected to go to, riding the Lohmann despite my plans otherwise, heading for a Norton I hadn't known about.  Hence, I clocked up my "Accidental Norton".

The Lohmann at Norton

The Lohmann obviously liked Wiltshire, it was running better than it had on earlier runs this year.  Some of the hills were a bit steeper than it liked and I had to jump off and trot alongside a couple of times.  Nevertheless, I was more than happy with the way it was running and the rest of the outward ride passed without drama.

Mid-way stop in Kington Langley.

The mid-way stop was at Geoff Brooks's house in Kington Langley.

Bikes and riders at the tea stop Bikes and riders at the tea stop Bikes and riders at the tea stop Bikes and riders at the tea stop

When I turned up, it was plain that the other riders had been there for some time.  About 5 minutes later we heard the sound of Peter's Lohmann coming up the road.

The route had not been planned with the painfully slow Lohmanns in mind; there was a quick conference about shortening the return trip so we wouldn't all be too late for our booked lunch back at the Red Bull Inn.  Most of the riders would take a short cut and then follow the remainder of the planned route while Peter and I would go straight up the main road to Malmesbury.

Return to the Red Bull Inn

This time, I followed Peter and it was obvious that the performance of our machines was quite different.  I was faster than Peter - though not by much - certainly not enough to make overtaking him feasible on the busy main road.  On the other hand, Peter's was pulling a lot stronger than mine and I had to pedal assist much sooner when we were going up hill.  Once we were off the main road, I was able to pass Peter ... only for him to come past me as we went up a hill.  After that I was slowly catching up to him on the flat road to the Red Bull Inn and was almost alongside when we saw the pub ahead.  The sneaky short cut through the gap in the fence was enough to make sure I won The Lohmann Grand Prix.

Lohmann Grand Prix postscript

by Peter Vaughan

Peter and Andrew back at the Red Bull Inn

Was great to meet you last Sunday.  Good weather, a couple of Lohmanns on-song - what more could anybody ask for?

Having read your super write-up, I see there are several parallels between Andrew's situation and mine!

Andrew planned to go at short notice, so did I (after getting Danny's e-mail last thing at work the previous afternoon).

Andrew was out the evening before, so was I.  (Father's birthday, took him to an orchestral concert.  Booked in for the ride during concert interval.)

Andrew was just about to set off when we spoke, so was I (2 minutes after phone call).

Andrew got up at some ridiculously early time; I just lay sleepless from 2am till 4am.  Wonder if Lewis Hamilton has this trouble before his own big races?

Andrew found he had to mix up some Lohmann fuel; I found I had a flat front Lohmann tyre. (That's why I had a foot pump strapped to my carrier all the way round)

Andrew took an early wrong turning, so did I.  (But I retraced my steps after 200 yards, not doing myself any favours in the LGP.)

Andrew had trouble going up hill, I had trouble going down hill.  My bike stops as slowly as it goes.  (Perry coaster hub brake at the back, Sturmey-Archer drum hub brake at the front.  And that's an addition: as a Dutch bike, when I got it there was nothing on the front).  Could have heel-disengaged the engine and let it freewheel to 30mph+ a couple of times.  Daren't.  Super day all the same.

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