History does repeat
Taree & Districts Vintage & Classic Motorcycle Club 25th Annual Rally
27 February – 2 March, 2014 – Taree, NSW
After one of the driest summers on record for the Mid-North Coast, the first weekend of March became the wettest weekend the area had experienced since the previous year’s rally, which had been abandoned due to the foul weather. As before the rally was uniquely held over four days, the Thursday being the State of Origin challenge for veteran motorcycles. Queensland soundly retained the perpetual shield with a total of three riders as opposed to New South Wales one. Approximately 30 entrants rode from Taree to Manning Point, then after a relaxing period by the Manning River the entrants proceeded to Old Bar for lunch in the Sports Club and a return ride to Taree. Friday saw the State of Origin challenge for girder forked motorcycles. New South Wales fielding ten riders as opposed to Queensland’s four (the previous day’s veterans). As approximately fifty riders prepared to depart, rain began to fall heavily, but intermittently, as the ride proceeded through Taree, Tinonee, Burrell Creek and onto Wingham, where an early lunch was taken. By the time the lunch was completed moderate rain had set in and a greater proportion of riders returned to Taree. About fifteen hardier souls braved the weather for the second stage of the ride, but on arrival at Wherrol Flat Hall, the rain was now heavy and after a short drink stop and the wringing out of gloves, everyone proceeded back to Taree in what could best be described as ‘difficult’ conditions. Saturday morning was met with very heavy rain, however there was no local flooding reported and it was deemed to be not as treacherous as the year before, so a vote was taken and about a dozen riders stated they wished to brave the conditions. Some of the 85 entrants for the rally had already departed for home with most only staying for the pre-paid evening dinner. As the marshals once more headed out into the deluge, it seemed the weather worsened for our act of defiance and there was some relief when all riders arrived at the Wauchope RSL for lunch with only two incidents of bikes failing to proceed.
The evening’s presentation festivities were well received and most seemed to recover from the sorrow of being unable to ride. Judging was deemed to be a combination of the worthiness of the motorcycle presented, and the ‘heart’ of the rider, for having remained involved during the most trying of circumstances. Bike of the Rally was awarded to Danny Marks for his 1947 1200cc Indian Chief, ridden all days, regardless of the conditions. USA resident, Cary Shoeman, travelled all the way from Florida (USA) to participate in the rally. Special mention goes to Peter Sunderland, who sadly lost his right leg above the knee in a motorcycling encounter with a wire rope barrier two years previously. Peter rode solo on his 1956 350cc Ariel NH with a home-made hand-shift attached to the gear lever of his bike, to assist with changing gear. This was his first attempt at riding solo at a rally since the incident and by all accounts, thoroughly enjoyed himself.
Despite the weather, it appeared most entrants spoken to enjoyed themselves, if not for the riding, for the good company encountered during the proceedings. Special thanks to the many businesses that sponsored the event, and hard working club members, without all of whom, it would not have been held. As they say in the classics, we may have better luck next year.