BSRA #3 Kelso National Scooter Rally 2018 | RALLERY
Scooter rallies were better in the 1980s”
How often have we all heard that one?As scooterists, reminiscing is something we all do quite a lot of. But I think it’s true to say much of it is through very rose-tinted glasses. Take the Scottish Nationals in the 80s for instance; Ayr in ’81 and Balloch (Loch Lomond) in ’82 were both poorly attended and rife with aggro and fighting with locals, who simply resented us being there. The Dunbar rallies in ’83, ’84 and 85 were equally troublesome, with police trying to turn people away from entering the town, and offering poor camping areas with virtually non-existent facilities. And, in some cases stopping riders from pitching their tents full stop! I didn’t attend any of these rallies but remember the anger the older lads would have telling the tales when they returned.
By ’86 and ’87 we had moved to Girvan for the rally, and I saw at first hand some of the most heavy-handed policing I’ve ever witnessed. OK, the football field stadium campsite was alright, but the cops and locals couldn’t have made us any less welcome. The national of ’88 was due to be at Rothesay (Isle of Bute) but fell through at the last minute and didn’t happen, due to a lack of planning, lack of ferries to get the sheer number of riders on and off the island and basically no concrete offer of a campsite or do venue. And then on to the ill-fated Fort William rally of ’89; again another rally dropped at the last minute due to a total lack of co-operation from the police and the council to us hosting a rally there.
Call the army in!
The National Runs Committee called the rally off, but a few hundred of us from all over the UK turned up anyway and did our best to have a good time regardless of the shitty reception we received. One local Scottish councillor had asked for the Army to be called in to block all roads into Fort William to stop all scooters getting in…
The above troubles were not just confined to Scottish rallies, many towns throughout England and Wales were similar at that time…
But what has all of this got to do with the Kelso National Rally of today I hear you ask?”
Absolutely “naff all” because Kelso is a superb town that is very welcoming, extremely hospitable, and the Border Union Agricultural Showground (campsite venue) is as good as any, if not the best, on the whole rally calendar in my opinion. Back in the 80’s, what we have on offer at Kelso today would have been simply unimaginable, and yet, they were the good days… yeah right!
The first National at Kelso was back in 2003, and it hasn’t missed a year since. This years rally being the 16thone, although the first 4 Kelsos ran at the same time as the Skegness rally both sharing National rally status. Two Nationals running on the same weekend in different towns is something I never fully understood to be honest. Kelso has been the official Whitsun Bank Holiday rally since 2007.
There surely can’t be anybody that’s ridden a scooter anytime in the last few decades that doesn’t grasp the rally formula; you load your scooter up with luggage, meet up with your mates and set off for a weekend of drinking and misbehaving in an often not so strange town, with loads of laughter and sometimes mechanical troubles thrown in for good measure! Sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it’s wet, but when it’s hot, well that changes the mood massively. I can’t think of anything I can write for you all to read, that you haven’t already done dozens of times already on rallies, but for me the Kelso vibe is different, the chilled atmosphere through the day really is the calm before the storm.
If you like a campsite with an outside mobile bar Kelso has that. If you like people offering drinks as you walk past tents and gazebos, Kelso has that too. It’s like one giant motorised beer garden full of multicoloured scooters and people with funny accents – Kelso has got it all going on!
A sunny afternoon very soon becomes an evening, and Friday nights main entertainment in the do was the band ‘Start’. As you would imagine by the name, these guys did Jam covers, and early mod stuff, very well too. Bands aren’t to everybody’s taste on rallies, but when that band plays and sounds exactly like the coolest music that all the cool people riding scooters listened to in the 60s and 79ish revival, you can’t fail to be impressed with their talents. A top-notch effort from a top-notch band. The ram packed dancefloor proved how good their set was.
One life, ruin it…
The bar shutting at 1am is the last of your worries to be fair. Having jumped about like a loon in the silent disco, I decided to call it a night and head back to my tent via the main toilet block. At the side of this is the shower block, that had now been converted into the unofficial after-party by some of Scotland’s finest reprobates, namely the Lone Sharks SC, amongst others. The shower block had been converted into a big open plan bar and disco area, and anyone passing was frog-marched in for a dance and as much free drink as they could swallow. Thankfully some of the early risers/ campers wanted to be in for a shower at 6.30am on Saturday morning, so the above-mentioned bastards (edit fellow scooterists) allowed me back to my tent for some sleep. I’m all for the “One life live it” outlook on things, but these lot think “One life lets squeeze every last drop out of it” is more apt, or simply “One life ruin it”. Two short hours later it’s 8.30am and I’m woken by my tent being shaken violently, the door zip opening and a tattooed arm passing a bottle of strong lager inside my tent and a broad Scotch accent saying “Here’s your breakfast mate”.. This surely can’t be normal behaviour can it? Generosity at it’s finest all the same.
Saturday saw lots more riders arrive and what seems like more day-trippers than ever, enjoying the sunshine. Music blasting from most tents and scooters being repaired and then revved – what’s not to like? Everything when you feel as rough as I did!
Dealers selling just about everything old and new, food vendors, inside and outside bars, the LCGB and VCB stalls there to serve and protect their loyal member’s needs. I love the rallies, and the sounds you hear on a campsite are the very heartbeat of my life.
The custom show had maybe 30 entrants, all superb looking scoots and the 14 trophy goodie bags were won by 13 very different scooters (show results in the Rallery). This is Déjà vu time for me, some of you may remember I tried to sum up last years Kelso here on SLUK. Well again the pub crawl is the same, the pubs are just as busy, and the view of the river Tweed from the back of the Legion pub/club just gets better. I spent most of the early evening waving, nodding and chatting to fellow scooter riding weekend millionaires (that’s how we all feel right?).
Back at the BUAS, those lunatics ‘Basket Case’ are just about to enter the stage. I will be blunt here, if you don’t like and admire this band’s talents and efforts there’s obviously something wrong with you. You can’t not jig about when they strut their stuff, imagine all the energy of a classroom full of school kids about to break up for the summer holidays? Well, that still falls very short of Basket Case! And boy did they look comical in Grange Hill school uniform style outfits? Punked up covers aplenty, but the highlight for most was their abusive cover of the Proclaimers 500 miles (absolute genius) if a band can fire up an audience it’s these boys.
No silent disco for me, just a stealth sneak back to the camping area avoiding the dangerous shower block after party, so as to avoid a repeat of the previous night’s shenanigans with the waifs and strays…
Sunday morning comes around all too soon, and many decamp far earlier than I feel safe to ride. I, however, head to the Vespa coffee truck to buy numerous latee’ in a vain hope to feel a bit more normal for the journey home. The hardcore stay on for one more day, but I head home to make plans for the BIG 7 National Rally down in Tonbidge in a few short days time.
It goes without saying, I enjoyed Kelso as much as ever. I often think why does a country the size of Scotland with so many massive scooter clubs only have one National on the calendar?
To those who say ‘same old same old’ Kelso, I say this: it’s by far the longest-running continuous large-scale scooter rally in Scotland, it’s also the longest running inland scooter rally in the whole of the UK for one single reason – it’s a bloody good rally! I for one will be proud to support it, as long as it remains just half as good as it is now.
The obligatory thanks go to the organisers that give up their time to make the rally happen each year, but a bigger thanks go to all of you that keep it real and twist a throttle to get there, and do things that make me laugh all the way into the next week with your friendship and stupid antics.
200th rally for Scott
Finally, a massive salute of respect to my pal Scott Southon from Medway Scooter Club. What better way for him too celebrate his 200th scooter rally than a near 800-mile round trip from Kent to Kelso and then offering his services to do the thankless and unenviable job of trying to judge the custom show. Top guy! Ride safe SLUKERS.
Words and pics: Col
Rallery by Col
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