The word ‘unique’ is probably the most over-used, and misused adjective in the English language but it is a wholly and completely accurate way to describe the Beezumph Rally. There is no other event where what can be kindly described as ‘authentically well-used’ road machines sit right alongside £40,000 classic race bikes in complete harmony.
Where else in the world could you see a class full of pannier and top box-equipped touring road bikes ambling round a race circuit, followed half an hour later by hardcore racers drifting three-cylinder racers through corners at 100mph? And the really, really (and one more really) clever thing is that everyone has an equally good time.
The clue to the Beezumph Rally comes from the compound noun: BSA and Triumph. Then there is the organiser of the Beezumph event; the TR3OC: Trident and Rocket 3 Owners’ Club. 27 years ago, the fine TR3OC folk decided to have a party for owners of these iconic sporting triples, and what better way to enjoy bikes with such a thoroughbred racing heritage than to have a play with them on track?
Three decades later, the same theme remains. The day before the track sessions there is a road ride, followed by as much circuit riding as you can manage without falling over or, as in my case, running out of race fuel!
Although I am hard-wired to ride fast I do have a problem with the way some racers view the rest of the motorcycling world. If you go to a classic race, or even a classic bike track day, entrants burbling around on touring bikes will be considered (at best) second-rate citizens. Not so at Beezumph, where there is a wonderfully egalitarian feel to the whole event: I love it.
Take JamesG who had ridden down from Ayrshire, for what he describes as a ‘brilliant weekend.’ James is a farmer and comes from what he describes as the real Ayrshire – The Shire – and his 750 Norton Commando would not be an automatic choice for a concours d’elegance award. Yet, for me, James represents the soul of motorcycling – classic or modern.
‘I’ve got ten bikes but I love the Commando because it’s my bike and it’s got me in it. I’ve rebuilt the engine and gearbox myself and fitted electronic ignition so I can get where I want to go and back. But I ride the s**t out of the bike and then I re-build it and ride the s**t out of it again, because that’s what they’re for. Now I’m going for a drink because talking to journalists is hard work…’
CarlS had ridden the 100 miles across from the Wirral on his 1975 T150 and was just as enthusiastic as James – and looking forward to a ride on the fabulous Anglesey track. Carl has a collection of bikes, and had just returned from a 3400 mile trip to the Stella Alpina on a modern Triumph, but has a soft spot for the Meriden triples.
‘I met a chap three years ago who had a triple and I loved the look and feel of the bike. There is something special about a triple and I particularly like the T150. In a way, the Beezumph is a bit like the T150 – classic and modern at the same time. There is a unique atmosphere and I really look forward to meeting friends I only see once or twice a year.’
Carl was with T160 owner IainS who, like many Beezumphers, had a good selection of bikes to choose from, including a pair of T140 Bonnevilles and a Hyde Harrier. Once again, it was the unique atmosphere of the event which was the attraction. ‘There’s such a great atmosphere here like a big family gathering which in many ways it is.’
The racers were just as enthusiastic. Father and son team Rob and Tony explained how they look forward to the Beezumph all year. Tony said: ‘We wouldn’t miss the Beezumph for anything. One year, a wedding clashed with the event but we weren’t having any of that so we did the wedding as quickly as possible and then shot off to Beezumph. Probably not many people realise it but the TR3OC invented classic bike track days. I passed my bike test on the Monday, on a BSA C15…’
Dad, Rob, chips in: ‘He was a deprived child and that’s all we could afford!’
Tony again: ‘And I rode at the first ever Beezumph on the same weekend – on the C15: it was great. The Beezumph fills a special place because Dad and I like riding fast on the track but we don’t want to go all-out racing which is a step too far for us. That’s why we’re so grateful to the TR3OC for organising the event.’
Their only criticism is the policy of mixing classic and modern bikes in the same class.
Rob said: ‘We don’t like it. The modern bikes come screaming past on the straight but often they’re slower in corners and, because they stop much better than a classic, they get in the way. For sure, classics riding with classics is better fun and safer.’
With riders as fast and highly skilled as Rob and Tony, this must be a valid issue and their views accurately reflected what was being said by all the quick classic entrants. Back in the relaxed end of the paddock, JimS – and his 1973 Triumph Trident – were Beezumph aristocracy. Jim had spent a total of eight years restoring his triple and the bike became very much a part of the family during the process.
Jim explains: ‘I was newly married and so didn’t have the money to throw at the restoration. The best place to keep the engine was on a cradle in the kitchen (as every motorcycling wife would know and understand!) and our son got so used to swerving round it that it became known the chicane. Even when the engine went, he still used to flick round that bit of the kitchen as if it was still there, so it was obviously good training.
‘One of the best things about Beezumph is the range of classes. Today I’m riding in the Entry Level which will be great because I’ll be with similar riders, all having a relaxing ride round: I love it!’
This brings me to the ‘What I Did on My Holidays’ section of the story. I have been very fortunate to ride on some of the finest tracks in Europe and America and, by world standards, the Anglesey Circuit is one of the great places to play with a classic race bike. Its 2.1 miles contain eleven turns and all of these are simply breathtakingly brilliant fun to ride. The layout was designed on a sheet of A3 paper, rather than a computer, by car racer Richard Peacock and I think that this is the secret to its success.
Despite being wide and safe, the track twists and turns and swoops along the coast in an utterly delightful and natural way – as if it had always been part of the Anglesey environment. Tracks are meant for racing but cresting the hill at the highest point of the track and seeing the Llyn peninsula stretching out into the Irish Sea before you is a truly memorable motorcycling experience.
In the right weather, with our Manx Norton running beautifully and in the company of riders as good as those in the Expert Classics class, I felt deeply privileged to be part of something very special. Dropping down onto the Tom Pryce straight, with 7000rpm on the tach and the Manx running as straight as an arrow, has to be one of the great experiences in life.
So many thanks to the TR3OC for running such a superb event at an unforgettable venue.
Words by Frank Melling
Photos by Carol Melling
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