Following an aborted attempt to ride to a classic motorcycle event in mid-France last summer – when my partner seized his 1969 BSA Royal Star before we’d even reached the ferry at Portsmouth – I was somewhat relieved to find out that this year the get-together was to be held rather closer to home: in Gloucestershire!
My 1939 Harley-Davidson WL45 has been running well of late, so required no more preparation than a chain adjustment, oil change and new plugs, while my other half’s BSA – complete with rebuilt engine – seemed more than up to the trip, too. We loaded up our camping essentials, and joined a dozen or so classic Harley-riding friends for the trip from London out west.
A wet beginning to the weekend – I do so love putting up a tent in the rain! – proved a false start, and Saturday and Sunday turned out to be the hottest days of the year so far. The venue, a 15th century inn on the banks of the River Severn, was a perfect backdrop for the established event, which had come to England for the first time. Called Linkert Attacks! UK (for the make of carb popular on American motorcycles in the last century), it attracted more than 150 bikers from all over the country as well as from as far afield as Spain, Sweden and – on borrowed wheels – America and Japan. All were riding pre-1980s stock and modified motorcycles; mainly Harleys, but also from other historic names such as Indian, Triumph and Laverda. Some machines, as with my own, were more than 70 years old.
A mass ride-out on Saturday took in glorious roads – and a stop at a picturesque village pub that was hosting a traction engine open day. Despite the distance and sweltering heat, I was relieved that my Harley barely missed a beat all weekend. However, the gearbox has developed a serious leak which needs to be addressed soon, while a weak side-stand spring caused a couple of heart-stopping moments at speed (well, at 60mph, which is about as speedy as my WL gets!). Most of my friends’ bikes were equally reliable: a snapped primary belt and a loose manifold were pretty much the sum of the problems we faced as a group over the 250-odd-mile round trip. Not bad for a bunch of old crocks (that’s the bikes, not us)!