Many British Scooterists will recognise Kev Brooks, he was well-known on the UK scooter rallies and a big part of the esteemed ‘Hardley Rideables SC’ back in the 1990s-2000s. That was before he was exiled to Australia. Personally the last time I saw Kev was at The Isle of Wight scooter rally in the early 2000s.
Heavily pierced Kev had just been involved in a drunken brawl. A fight that saw him brought out to the foyer for first aid… carrying the remains of his right ear. A body part, literally torn across the dotted line of piercings. Rumours that the person who he was fighting with later received ‘An ear and a half’ for the crime are completely fabricated.
Mille Miglia, it’s an event whose origins start in Italy. It involves various car and motorcycle manufacturers competing in an endurance type event to prove the reliability of their products, over a distance of 1000 miles or kilometres. Here in Australia, it was revived some years ago by a few people as a way of trying to get Scooterists together to have a little fun that wasn’t purely about beer and music at the seaside. Although it is run to coincide with the yearly National Classic Scooter Rally.
This year the National was back in South Australia and hence the Mille was too. The base for the National and also the start and finish point of the Mille was a small town called Goolwa which is on the edge of the Mighty Murrey River, very close to where it enters the Southern Ocean. I’d entered this year with a mate and long-time scooterist Alan Dyer who, despite his love of northern soul and slight deafness, is a bloody nice bloke indeed.
I was riding my Indian Series Two mongrel type thing with a shed built TS225 motor, not super tuned but reliable and fun enough. Al was on his 225 Rapido and both scooters were given a good going over during the weeks before the two-day event. Day one involved a 6:04 am start from a pub in the centre of Goolwa and as the various teams of two or three left the buzz was already building.
We’re off. Our first task was a pic of us at a lighthouse about 50kms away on great early morning country roads, this concluded without mishaps. We then headed north towards our second-way point which was a picture at Mount Lofty, a lookout point in the Adelaide Hills.
The route took us through some lovely switch back country roads with the morning mist and cool air a joy to ride in. It soon warmed up however and alas on one long fast downhill section Al’s GP locked up. After stopping and having a look, it was obvious his Mille was over. A total lack of compression and a later strip revealed the bottom ring was now an unmoving part of the piston.
Lost in the outback
This left me with a problem, although I’ve been here 15 years I still get lost going to the shops and was seriously considering heading home, however, I pulled my 2xl big boy pants up and decided I’d give it a go, what could possibly go wrong? Well, I was instantly lost. I tried reading Al’s directions but just couldn’t work out where I was. Add to that the lack of phone coverage and I had just about spat my dummy out when I came to a junction that pointed the way back to Adelaide.
Knowing I’d never catch up to any other rider at that point I took the easy option and decided I’d head to a place that was one of the necessary stops on the Mille route but quickly reachable from where I was. So I headed straight through Adelaide and it’s crappy traffic system and had nearly reached the stop when my scooter started to misbehave…BUGGER.
Rocking horse shit
I managed to get to the stop known as the Big Rocking Horse. Australia is famous for its love of manmade oversize landmarks such as; a huge lobster, a massive orange, an enormous sheep and a terrifying 40-foot koala bear. The Big Rocking horse is exactly that, a bloody great big rocking horse (that doesn’t rock, or defecate) built of wood.
Quickly removing the panel I realised that my inline fuel filter was empty and figured the fuel wasn’t getting through, after re-routing the hose it seemed the trouble was cured. My only problem now was – do I head home or carry on? I was only 12kms from home at this point with another 750 to go if I continued. Just then, an old mate of mine Damian Harris (who was also doing the Mille) pulled in on his tuned old school Vespa for his obligatory picture. A quick chat and an invite to ride along with him saw me back on the road and heading through the beautiful Barrosa Valley, home to some of the world’s best-known Vinyards.
All seemed to be going well when the same problem appeared again and my scoot would only idle and not rev out. Realising I needed to get rid of the filter I also needed a longer section of fuel line so I nursed it into the Town of Tanunda in the heart of wine country and found a Honda Mower shop, buying enough fuel hose to do away with the filter I quickly fitted it and we were on our way again, problem cured, we carried on and were making good time through South Australia’s stark empty countryside. With a stop to get a pic with a huge statue of a miner. It had also got much hotter, with temps around 30-34 degrees, not bad for spring. The countryside out here is as beautiful as it is stark and empty.
The last 100kms though were pretty boring with long straights and empty bushland either side. We finally reached The Loxton hotel, (which was the overnight stop for day one) at 17:55 after 12 hours on the road. The first thing on my mind was a cold beer, in fact, the first two didn’t even touch the sides.
The pub was buzzing with all the other Mille riders and support crews and it quickly became a great night of meeting new and old acquaintances and swapping stories of the day’s ride. I should mention at this point that despite his break down, Alan Dyer, my teammate had got recovery back to Goolwa, jumped in his ute and driven cross country to the Loxton pub so he could provide back up for the rest of the event, top bloke.
What a fuel
A hot shower and a bad night’s sleep saw me up and ready to go at 5 am the next morning. My start time was again 06.04 and with some time to spare, I thought I’d get fuel at the station just up the road. Well, that’s when it went a bit wrong. I was chatting to a local as I topped my tank up with 2.5 litres and then put 5 litres in my jerry can but as I put the pump nozzle back I saw to my horror I had used the DIESEL pump! What a w###ker I shouted to myself and then realised I was going to miss my start time.
So I had to drain my tank of 14-litres of petrol/diesel/fully synth 2 stroke oil and also empty my back up can. After an hour of dicking about, I was finally ready to hit the road again. I was an hour behind everyone else but luckily had Alan leading the way in his ute, so sticking to legal speeds we wound our way past large orchards of oranges and lemons that grow so well in this part of South Australia. After a short ferry ride across the Murray River, I managed to catch up with some other riders who had stopped for fuel at the small river town of Waikari, this was where I met Sid Barton, Spud Sproule and their back up team.
These guys happily let me tag on with them and it was the best decision I made all week. With Sid on his Muggello 225 GP and Spud on his P200 we were making good time and it was obvious these guys did plenty of miles, as their roadcraft made for well-paced but safe riding.
As we headed to the next stop at a place called Young Husband the pace was good and we were making good time when a really loud bang and an instant loss of back end control (both mine and the Lammie’s) announced the scary demise of my rear tyre. I was very lucky and managed to stay upright by just grabbing the clutch and not touching the brakes, the blow out was so loud that the girls driving the backup van behind heard it clearly, as did both Sid and Spud who were both a good 50 meters in front of me. After a few minutes alternatively swearing and laughing I set about getting my spare on and getting back on track. And we were soon heading to the next photo stop.
Pictures taken, water drunk and with only a couple more photo stops to go we were soon heading towards our final destination. By now the distance ridden on a pretty small, hard seat was really taking a toll on my back, butt and patience. Knowing we had only around 100/120 km left to go made it bearable.
With the last photo stops achieved we were nearing the end of the day and getting ever closer to the finish at the pub in Goolwa. I was very happy indeed to see a sign saying we had only 6 km to go. At this point, I knew that even if I had to push it I would get there.
As we pulled up outside the pub the other teams were milling about outside having a well-deserved beer and a good chinwag. The atmosphere was great and it started to sink in that I had actually finished. I was pretty happy and although I actually came last it didn’t matter one bit. I had enjoyed every single minute, met some great people and proved that my Lambretta was more than up to the task. What more could a bloke want? Oh that’s right, a lot of beer and a good meal.
My thanks go out to all that made it such a fantastic event but particularly to Alan Dyer and his wife Elaine, to Sid and Spud who are without doubt brilliant dudes, their back up driving girls, also Andy and John and of course Damien Harris. Thanks also to Nicky, Chris and Fleur for organising a brilliant Mille.
Words and photos: Kev Brooks, Southsiders SC
Gruesome ear photo: Kitch
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