Southport pre-season VFM scooter rally | RALLERY
Pre-season gives us all an early chance to blow away the cobwebs of winter, give the scooter a good blast before Easter and have a bit of fun by the seaside. As a bonus this year we were treated to a different town (it’s certainly been a while since we were in Southport anyway) for the VFM pre-season and it was a belting start to the 2017 rally season
Back in the 1990s…
Southport was a national rally venue during the dying days of the NSRA in the 1990s. Complete with a waste-ground campsite at the side of the dilapidated old fairground, which has since been redeveloped. The town itself has plenty of flaky-painted ironwork, tell-tale signs of previous fine Victorian seaside splendour. Southport has some history, both as a town and as a rally venue.
It also has a great venue for a do and plenty of pubs to quench the thirst of scooterists. Thankfully it’s a bit more upmarket than nearby Morecambe as well, so it’s not a bad place to hold a rally.
Southport has been used occasionally since the NSRA days. VFM held a few pre-season events there just before and after the Millennium, then a very wet and miserable national in 2002 to celebrate the Queens Golden Jubilee. The last time VFM used the town was for an end of season event in 2007 so it was ready for a revisit.
The Southport pre-season proved that the town has plenty to offer a national rally once again. If there’s somewhere for a campsite (otherwise accommodation in summer may be a problem) it’s well worth somebody putting it on and I’m sure north west scooterists would be happy if it happens.
Tropical/typical season start
16 degrees, fantastic sunshine and blue skies, ideal riding conditions… well it was all week. Friday changed to wet, cold, windy and miserable so multiple layers were called for. Not that it’s a huge distance for us, just 100 miles of scenic (wet/muddy/windy) A-roads from Nottinghamshire.
Myself on my Series 1 and the other half on her Series 2, we had a good blast, with only a few minor problems for her along the way, HT cap dropping off on the Cat & Fiddle with a foreign lorry driver right up her arse. Then her clutch started creeping in Warrington, getting steadily worse until it got to the stage where there was no adjustment left and I was having to go ahead and tell her over the intercom if it was safe to ride straight over junctions/roundabouts etc.
She made it the last 10-miles and thankfully we rode straight to our digs, rather than searching the streets aimlessly. That was where we discovered our lock had dropped off my scooter somewhere along the way, probably during speedy bag off, tools out, clutch adjusting times. Thankfully our landlady let us park the scooters in her ample back passage for safe keeping.
Meeting up with friends is what it’s all about and our usual crew were in attendance. Friends from Belgium, Wales, Scotland, Macclesfield, Nottingham, Manchester, Northampton, Loughborough, Hull, Leeds and various other places would keep us amused during the weekend.
Olivier with his world famous Belgian back street pub crawl came up trumps again. He’s a master at finding out of the way drinking establishments of ill repute in any town we visit. His carefully prepared route map for Southport included the lesser-known Bumhug bar. It was a deserted and dingy place when we entered, with just a multi-talented cocktail barman and a couple of locals propping up the bar. His routine seemed a bit over the top juggling/pouring and shaking when we entered the empty place but this place turned out to be the highlight of the weekend for us.
Aside from pouring a fine cocktail (or pint) he was also DJ’ing from behind the bar and singing over the tracks – in fine voice I might add. He quickly helped to whip our bunch of misfits into fine party spirit, whilst simultaenously calling in an extra scantily clad barmaid as back up. Swiftly followed by four burly Russian mafia bouncers and a couple of Thai prostitutes. He also seemed to be keeping himself hyper-active on some strange sherbet. Good to see that he was on more than just the minimum wage though and he deserved every penny.
It was time to leave once the local slappers and Albanian geezers turned up. The entertainment didn’t end there though, as we left Bumhug a girl lay unconscious in the street, whilst her screaming friend was restrained and floored to keep her under control. Weird, we’d entered a deserted bar in a deserted part of town, turned it into party central and left to the locals causing mayhem amongst themselves.
After sampling Southport’s binge-drinking culture we made it for the last couple of hours of the official do at the Convention Centre. It’s important to support the official scooter rally entertainment, without the scooterists who put events on we’d have no organised rallies to attend.
Both nights had a good crowd in and a fine atmosphere. Plenty of younger scooterists in there and around town as well, which is always good to see. The shift towards young blood is happening slowly but surely on the scooter scene. If you’re a youngster sat on the outskirts looking in and are worried that you’ll only be surrounded by us old fuddy-duddies, get yourself to a rally and find out what you’ve been missing.
Saturday’s parts fair and custom show brought out plenty of day-trippers, (despite the grim weather) and had a plethora of stalls. The actual custom show itself was a little thin on the ground, with many owners waiting until the big one at Easter to reveal their winter builds. Even so it gave people a chance to see our recent scoop feature scooter, Lower Class up close for the very first time. It went on to win best of show and best engineering, very well deserved on both counts. Best murals went to Joy Division, a stunning display of airbrushed genius, owned by Bernie from the Stockport Crusaders.
Investment pays dividends
A weekend of fun and laughter was over all too soon and with Linsey’s scooter being relegated to the back of a van (heading to Manchester rather than home) I gained a pillion for the ride home. Both of us laughing over the intercoms at the weekend’s antics, both feeling positive for another good rally season to come.
We may be long in the tooth and can ride to most towns blindfolded but our 30-year investment in the scooter lifestyle has been rewarded handsomely with great friends and plenty of memories and it ain’t over yet.
Words and photos: Iggy
Custom show photos: Andy Gillard @ScooterNova