AJS & Matchless Owners Club

East Suffolk Section

Dave and Andy: A Tale of Joy, Despair and Joy in Oxon 2012!

The 2012 AJS & MOC Alternative Rally was held over the weekend of the 5th, 6th and 7th of October.  Andy Poulson and Dave Cook from the East Suffolk Section had decided to make their annual pilgrimage to far flung parts of the Roy Bellett Empire to camp in a wet field- this year in Aston near Oxford.
312“We left Ipswich at approximately 9.30am on the morning of the 5th in dry and bright weather.  Dave led, as he knew the way through the mysteries of Colchester as we intended to get onto the A120.  Once on the A120 we proceeded to Histon where Andy took over the lead as he had read a map!
Things went well until Luton where a missed turn meant we then got caught up in roadworks on roads with a 30 mph speed limit with traffic cameras.  Eventually out of Luton, we made good progress and stopped near Aylesbury for a bacon roll and cup of tea and use of the convenient trees.  At this point we realised that neither of us had taken a map – Dave’s excuse was that Andy was leading; Andy’s was that he thought Dave would take one as he always did!
We reached the village hall in Aston about 3.30pm having completed 190 miles, just as the rain began to start.  We booked in and then found a suitable place to site the tents. Put up the tents, got the interior of the tents sorted , covered the bikes and waited for the run to return from the Metisse factory, the bar to open and the evening meal to appear.  This was fish & chips, very welcoming as we hadn’t eaten much all day. The rally had more varieties of beer than you would see in a supermarket, most from local brewers.
That night it rained and rained and rained and rained!
In the morning we woke to a bright day but very wet underfoot, breakfast was a bit delayed as the ladies from the village who had volunteered to cook it had problems with the electrics in the hall – the trip kept blowing.  After a very good breakfast we got ready for the run, both bikes started, Andy had been having trouble starting his but not today.
The run was to Combe Mill (www.combmill.org) where Mike Hallam, an ex Club President, is one of the active restoration team. He appears on the cover of their brochure.  The run was 26 miles long and after half way Dave’s bike started to make a noise from the area of the exhaust but it kept running. “Do I stop” he thought, but decided to carry on to the mill. As he pulled into the car park, the bike “died”.
On investigation, there was no compression, looking closer; the head gasket could be seen to have split.  It was decided to tour the mill,have the packed lunch supplied by Oxford and worry about the bike later.
Combe Mill is well worth the visit if you are in that part of the world, it had been the workshop for Blenheim Palace in the past.  Dave spoke to Mike Hallam and was told the van would arrive later and he would go home and get a head gasket.  So, whilst Andy and the run went back to the campsite Dave sat and waited in the sunshine with Rod Towers, the organiser of the Kelso 2012 Jampot rally, who’s late 40’s clutch had disintegrated.
The van appeared, a VW transporter, Dave’s bike has a handlebar fairing and a Transporter is quite low so the screen had to be taken off the fairing.  Back at the campsite the bike was eventually unloaded and pushed onto the hard standing outside the village hall. Fortunately, the Oxford section had a gazebo to work under.
Dave set to work stripping down the bike; Rob Swift (club chairman) lent his spanners; Duncan and Nick from the Hampshire section lent gaskets.  Dave took off the seat, tank, rocker box and cylinder head, slid the already annealed head gasket between head and barrel and put it all back together again, with help and advice from the many, but mainly from Louis from Holland.  Before the seat and tank were replaced it was decided to start the bike – it started first kick!
So it was back to the tent, clean up and ready for the evening meal and a pint.  Another good meal (hog roast) and on to the awards. One thing that Dave was not expecting was any kind of award, however, John the previous club chairman and now Oxford chairman decided that Dave should get the Endeavour Award for fixing the bike ready to ride home, a very nice gesture.
We awoke next day to a very heavy mist/fog and when taking the cover off the bikes, there was ice on the bungee straps!
We had breakfast, loaded the bikes and prepared to return home, both wearing as many layers as we could due to the cold weather.  After about 20 miles, Dave had to stop and change his gloves to the thermal lined pair and it was at this point that Andy told Dave he was having clutch problems. They continued on and again had to negotiate Luton twice but Dave found the way out and they continued on to Histon, stopped for fuel for bikes and riders, then back down the A120 and on to Colchester. Andy was leading but Dave needed to stop, even with a Gel Pad on the seat, enough was enough and Andy disappeared off into the distance. After getting the feeling back into his extremities Dave continued and caught Andy up in a lay-by just before Colchester at which point Dave led again.
Out through Colchester, Ardleigh,Manningtree, through Ipswich and home.  Back about 3.30pm completing a 162 mile journey.  Dave’s bike went well but Andy’s clutch is another story to be told at a later date.
So Dave completed 380 miles and Andy over 400, a very good rally even with the minor problems, bring on Stoke Bruerne in 2013.”