BSRA #7 The 2018 Isle of Wight Scooter Rally | RALLERY
The Isle of Wight rally causes more debate and divided opinions than all the other major events on the calendar put together. And to be honest I just don’t get why?
The main gripe seems to be the so-called “comedy brigade” with lights, mirrors and Union Jack covered parkas, or scooters being vanned or on the back of motorhomes and trailers. Admittedly, the IOW does have a lot of this every year, but then so does nearly every other major event nowadays. The difference is the IOW is the biggest gathering of scooters at any rally anywhere, so the ‘comedy brigade’ stands out more.
Whatever floats your boat
What you will also notice if you go to the rally is there are far more chops, cut downs, street racers, full-blown customs, resto’s and visiting overseas riders than at any other rally. It is the biggest rally after all! I like all types of scooters and people’s individual styles, and the biggest majority of rally-goers to this rally are right up my street.
Sadly, the IOW seems to be the only true National Rally left on the calendar. It is the only one where packs of riders from all over the U.K still make the effort to ride to as a club; often covering long distances. Unlike the other Nationals that now have far more of a regionalised feel about them.
Cruising down the country all the way to Southampton to catch the ferry, I saw groups of scooters on every garage forecourt and in many lay-bys. No surprises there, except it was Thursday afternoon, the day before this four-day event actually starts! By the time I boarded my ferry, I had already seen more scooters being ridden than the entire attendance of many of the smaller club rallies I attend each year. I go to the rally early trying to avoid the overly busy ferries, but now the Thursday afternoon crossings seem as busy as the Friday afternoon ferries did 10 years ago.
The choice for entertainment and accommodation on the island is massive, with scooters in every coastal town. But I can only comment, as ever, on the rally hub which is the town of Ryde and more importantly the Smallbrook Speedway Stadium – the official rally campsite. The amount of tents sprawled across two fields and the sheer number of dealers/traders and food and drink vendors is a sight not seen at any other rally. Standing on the balcony of the stadium’s clubhouse you get a virtual 360-degree view of the campsite. And, with a beer in hand, there is nowhere I would rather be on an August Bank Holiday weekend.
Friday and Saturday passed by in an instant, with constant sunshine and the buzz of scooters from all directions. The onsite entertainment consisted of live bands playing 60s, soul, disco, ska, reggae, a Jam tribute and rockabilly/psychobilly. As well as DJs playing every other genre of music you could think of. Although someone blasting the Jim’ll fix it theme tune across the campsite each morning to wake the campers is just wrong on every level. The custom show housed in the main arena tent was crammed.
Many of the UK’s finest scooters were on show and winning trophies. As ever the Lammy Chopper Owners Club had a big display of machines. If a scooter is likened to a lovely lady, then these chops are like scantily clad pole-dancers. Try telling these owners that the I.O.W is all about light and mirrors.
Rolling roads are another great addition to the rallies in recent years. Jon Gilbert from JG Scooters entertained the onlookers at the recent Cleethorpes rally with his power shootout challenge. But at the IOW a good handful of riders made use of his fine tune set up skills. So rather than just having BHP bragging rights, owners rode away from the dyno on scooters running far better than the journey they’d had to the rally.
Traders in abundance
The massive amount of traders is impressive to see and great for anyone needing parts (new or old) to finish a project scooter, or simply repair parts to get you home from the rally. Often insurance companies get a bit of a rough ride for being big faceless businesses that just want to grab your money and not give you anything in return at your time of need. The team at Lexham Insurance (Andy, Sean and Lewis) don’t fit that mould at all though – absolutely top lads – very passionate about scooters, and fully enjoying the rally. Their van and stall is the signing on point and sponsor for the BSRA rider’s championship at all major events. It goes a long way in my book that not only does this insurance company understand you and your scooter but they positively encourage you to get out there and ride it to the rallies.
Ride out or hide out?
Unfortunately, Sunday was marred with very wet weather, that caused a mass exodus from the campsite for riders and dealers alike. This was a great shame because Sunday’s rideout is a massive spectacle. Usually, when the riders arrive back at Smallbrook, the place is absolutely rammed, but this year was a washout. Respect to all those that took part in the ride. And the wet through marshals guiding it in.
Sunday evening showed just how many of the campers had left, but the town of Ryde was still very busy, no doubt with rally-goers that had B&B accommodation. The world is a more technical place with the internet, and especially smartphones. Many had seen the weather warning for Sunday’s rain and decided to leave early, those of us that stuck it out, were treated to a dry and fairly bright Bank Holiday Monday, so my journey home was a fairly straightforward one.
20 years at Smallbrook
I always feel a massive debt to the rally organisers. I can only imagine the amount of effort it takes to make them run smoothly. It’s 20 years since the VFM/BSRA took the official campsite back to the Smallbrook stadium and I’ve proudly ridden to them all, covering approximately 12,000 miles in the process. That’s my small nod of thanks to them.
Make memories not money
Some people go to work at the weekends to make money, I get my scooters out at the weekend to go off and make MEMORIES. Long may it last.
I’d like to dedicate my words on this year’s IOW rally to the memory of Steven Cunningham (aka Flea) who died recently, R.IP to another proud rally-going Scotsman.
Ride safe Slukers: Col
Photos: Col and Booga
What’s new in the SLUK Shop?