Mersea Island Scooter Rally 25th Anniversary | RALLERY
Just as night follows day, Mersea Island follows hot on the heels of the Isle of Wight. This year though was an extra special year as this was the 25th Anniversary of Colchester DVLC’s Mersea Island Rally. Not that a couple of thousand scooterists need an excuse to raise a glass or twenty?!
The rally has certainly evolved over those 25 years and those of us that have attended since the early days will all have their own special memories of this great rally. It was at Mersea, many years ago, that I woke up in my tent to hear the news that Princess Diana had been bumped off – sorry, had had a tragic accident. Maybe not all memories are quite as sobering as that one and I guess most will be a bit blurred by beer and bananas.
I was late leaving on Friday so I had a solo ride down, which meant a very quick blast, arriving at the gate at 10:45 pm to be greeted by the ever-cheery gate staff. Wristband fitted, mates’ tents located (thankfully we always head to the same spot), a beer thrust in my hand as I parked up, tent pitched and then the JD started flowing, as there was drinking time to be caught up!
Those that like the Darkside and support their exploits will know that as well as spinning the tunes in the Darkside marquee and the silent disco they also produce some rather nifty T-Shirts and each year my tradition is to rush over as soon as I arrive to grab one before they sell out. This year I made it by the skin of my teeth!
The great thing about Mersea is that you can wobble effortlessly from room to room and sample every style of music and maybe even enjoy something a little different to your usual choice, this is never more evident than in the Darkside tent when the silent disco kicks in, it’s always rammed (more about different later!).
As I was late I only just caught the end of the bands on Friday, but I was told they went down very well, with SLUK soundtrackers, The Superlatives kicking off the proceedings, followed by The Corsairs and then the Men of North Country from Israel. There was a real buzz around the courtyard that links the music venues and food stalls, with scooterists chatting and doing what they do best, getting pissed.
Saturday morning soon arrived and the baking sun meant that I had the choice of being boiled in the (sleeping) bag or crawling out of my pit and facing the day bleary-eyed. I decided on the latter and joined Scott Southon as he took his gorgeous unrestored Rally across to the custom show.
Just an Illusion
It was great to have a look at some mighty fine and well-prepared machines of all shapes and sizes before the crowds swamped them. Special mention for the all-new, black Illusion, the paint is stunning! It was also good to see scooters on show from over the channel, with a standout and trick Vespa, Second Skin, from Austria drawing a lot of attention and picking up Best Vespa. The owner having recreated his tattoo designs on the scooter and even the design on his head was recreated on his crash helmet!
The Custom Show results are below and the judges must have had a hard time to make their decisions as the standard was very high.
Custom show results
Best Cutdown/Oddity/Chopper: Illusion
Best Street Racer: Lee’s JB Tuning Series 1, 721 XUH
Best Vintage: Model D, 879 YUE
Best Original Vespa: Hurricane
Best Original Lambretta: Rally Master, 135 ASV
Best Vespa Restoration: SS90, DCY 549C
Best Lambretta Restoration: Series 1, WSL 185
Best Engineered: Double Barrel
Best Brightwork: Avatar
Best Custom Paintwork: Start Me Up
Most Iconic: The Sentinel
Best Auto: Triumph Tigress
Best Vespa: Second Skin
Best Lambretta: Rule Brittania
Best of Show (Phil Rudkin Trophy): Peaky Blinders
Beer and Banana
Saturday afternoon was spent watching the usual Mersea fun and games, although the beer & banana race in a wheelbarrow doesn’t quite have the same feel as it used to have on scooters, pre-health and safety rules. That’s another thing that’s evolved over the last 25 years. Although it was still a laugh and seeing some slightly out of shape superheroes and skinheads in dresses taking part kept the big crowd entertained.
The results for the fun & games are below and a special mention for the Logistical Nightmares SC who not only kept everyone laughing, but also went home with the overall winner’s title!
Fun & games results
Tug of war: Logistical Nightmares
Ice T & golden star: Logistical Nightmares
Egg throwing & golden egg: Logistical Nightmares
Wheel me over: Destitutes
Beer & banana: No Spectators SC
Sponge Bob: Braintree Breakfast SC
Where’s Me Beer: Do Overs & Odd Bods
Overall Winners: Logistical Nightmares
A Greek Odyssey
Whilst the Fun & Games were coming to an end we ventured around the huge dealer market area, where you could buy everything from a complete scooter to some trinkets. I was focused on finding the two Greeks that SLUK had featured recently, these two have a fantastic story and are in the midst of an epic journey riding around the world on a Vespa PX. They had been given space in the Colchester DVLC marquee to promote the book, which they had just released, covering the first leg, riding down across Africa.
Piaggio haven’t offered any support for the trip, a missed PR opportunity if ever there was one. The Greeks had been loaned a couple of Scomadis for the weekend to ride across to Mersea (their first experience of a UK rally and the largest gathering of scooters they’d ever seen). Well done to Scomadi UK for organising the loan. Anyone that took the time to have a chat with Stergios and Alexandra will have seen how humble they are about their achievements to date and also would have felt their infectious enthusiasm for riding and adventure. Look out for a full interview with the pair on SLUK shortly and grab yourself a copy of their book as it’s well worth a read.
It was great to see the BSSO and SRP Race Team displays drawing in the crowds as scooterists were able to have a good look at (and ask questions about) the racing scooters that were on display. Just around the corner was the Dyno giving those with big bhp the chance to push out some serious mph on the rolling road.
What a div
Next up was a quick wander down the coast path to the pub, for a pint in a real glass, catching up with some of the usual suspects and also being joined by one of the Darkside DJs and Millwall fan, Gary O’Neill. Now this individual is well known for his own mishaps and adventures, usually getting lost on the way to every rally and booking twice as many rooms as he needs, often in a different town to where he’s meant to be stopping! This time he decided to ‘pop’ into London Town to watch Millwall play, only for him to return late afternoon without seeing a ball kicked. He’d arrived early for a 3 pm kick off, only to find that the match was due to kick off at 5:30 pm, so a swift pint and back to Mersea as he was due on the decks by the time the match finished. A long way for nothing more than additional ammo and ridicule, oops!
Saturday night was more of the same, wobbling from room to room, chatting with mates old and new, this time though I wanted to catch the final band of the night as I’d heard good things about them and that they would offer something different to the usual rally sounds. Anyone that saw them will know that they did not disappoint, they were certainly different!
Step forward King Salami and the Cumberland Three, they kept the packed marquee bouncing with their punk fuelled rhythm and blues and the King’s infectious energy. Is this what they mean by a royal sausage fest?! If you get a chance then watch them, they won’t disappoint!
Another bright start to the day as Sunday arrived with the usual early exodus waking us late risers. As we’re always amongst the last to leave we get to see the amount of work that the organisers face to clear up the tents that are abandoned each year. What I will say is the scooter camping area was left pretty tidy as the happy campers had taken advantage of the black bin bags dished out on arrival. We might party hard, but we can also tidy up hard as well. Tent packed and a nice ride home, ready to do it all again in a field somewhere else soon!
Thanks and a Happy 25th Anniversary to the Colchester DVLC team who work tirelessly for our enjoyment. Roll on the 26th Anniversary!
Words: Shaun Hodgkin
Photos: Shaun & Booga
Rallery by Shaun Hodgkin