The VCB Lakeland 100 | RALLERY
This event had been run previously as a club rally by Valley Scooter Club Rossendale as a 100-mile loop taking in the biggest, steepest, toughest and best climbs the Lake District has to offer. This follows the route of Britain’s most infamous cycling event ‘The Fred Whitton’. Max Bould had the idea of running this as a Vespa Club of Britain event that would appeal to hardened riders, we’d also use Kendal RUFC as the venue from British Vespa Days 2015. So back in February a date was set that could ‘almost guarantee’ glorious sunshine for the entire weekend.
Wet wet wet
Throughout Friday afternoon the rain hammered it down as riders were arriving, some just signed in and left, others decided to find B&B’s instead. At this point I was getting concerned that this might turn into a wash-out. BY mid afternoon numbers really weren’t that great at all. The ride up couldn’t have been too pleasant, as many were ordering a pint whilst still stood dripping in their full wet weather riding gear, or maybe that’s just priorities?
Miraculously the weather cleared for some much needed sunshine at around 7pm and there was a rush out of the bar to make the most of the opportunity to put tents up in the dry. Then back to the bar room which packed out and got very warm with a great buzz of now 70+ people.
On the Saturday a hardy band of riders and marshals set out into the deteriorating weather. Pat from the Wakefield VC returned to tell us that Ray Owram’s fuel line had fractured, which oiled up the back tyre causing him to come off on a roundabout. It bent his kickstart shaft so he returned to a flooded tent in Kendal, not the best way to celebrate his birthday. The Wakefield crew decided put away their tents and leave as they were already soaked, naturally some of them broke down on the way home too.
Wet but elated
After all the mishaps and crashes I was getting really worried and beginning to think that we should have called the event off. Then a funny thing happened – groups of riders were returning in the dreadful conditions and really really buzzing from the experience. People had endured the most atrocious riding conditions and were just laughing their heads off at just how bad it was!
Debbie Wood said despite the appalling conditions her party of riders were doing OK when Mick Bebb skidded off before the Woolpack at Hardknott Pass. Then going past the Woolpack, they hit a flooded road, where three of the GTS’s conked out. They attempted to walk back to the Woolpack through the water but it was already rising higher than before, a friendly farmer let them store the scooters at his farmhouse.
Billy Sleith and Derek Bain managed to get through and returned at 5pm to inform Max that Debbie was stranded. So after getting changed into dry clothes and buoyed by Billy’s immortal words of ‘You never leave your wing-man’ the recovery party set off in Billy’s van.
Wade in the water
In places the roads looked too flooded to drive through, so Max walked knee deep in the water for a quarter of a mile in front of the van to gauge depth, having to bounce abandoned cars out of the way in places. Getting to the Woolpack they found the riders settled in, already having a second pint after having their dinner.
With the remaining riders collected and scooters safely away, the recovery party returned via a different route, getting back to the rugby club at 10pm, and after a long overdue bite to eat trophies were finally presented at 11pm.
My hat goes off to every person who even had a go; only a handful of people completed the original ride. Others who didn’t get as far as Hardknott still rode in horrendous rain along debris-strewn flooded roads and a few had falls and breakdowns too, certainly no one came back dry.
This ride would have been challenging in its own right but the weather conditions turned this into something of an extreme endurance event. Someone said “Remember all that silly stuff we used to do in our teens and 20s, well we have just done that this weekend”.
See you at the Lakeland 100 in 2017; it’ll be one to tell the grandkids about.
Words, photos, video: Binxy -Valley Scooter Club Rossendale and Max Bould – Vespa Club of Britain, Lancashire Branch
Gallery by Binxy