No one needs reminding about the amount of events cancelled in 2020, or the effect its had on business, families and health. Some countries or race series had it much worse than others and the UK seemed to be at the bad end of the scale. One event that shone out, right in the middle of lockdown summer, was the Malle Mile. People who attended couldn't believe how it went ahead, but we were all glad it did.
Sideburn had a stall there, and camped out on site with friends. It was the first time I'd attended the Malle Mile and the memory of it is still strong and uplifting now, even though I spent virtually the whole time in the Sideburn stall selling goods.
We have a feature in Sideburn 43 from the Malle Mile, Anthony Brown's first test of the Herald Brute 500. The shot on the Sideburn 43 Herald special edition was taken at the Malle Mile too. Here are my own snaps and captions. GI
The main reason the Malle Mile got the go-ahead when so many other events were postponed or cancelled was, I was told, because the organisers convinced the local authorities it was an amateur sporting event. True, but it was much more and not everyone who attended was competing. That's a Bentley parked in the background, by the way.
That's the hillclimb hill in the background. It doesn't look much in this photo, but it's steep enough and a twisty sprint, with turns, not just a straight line. Tasty Bullet in the foreground. Patriotic ice cream van and portaloos complete the tableau. This was early Friday, before the public were admitted.
Malle volunteers were kitted out in Malle wear. The face masks are one of the few reminders this event took place in Covid times. Visit mallelondon.com to see what they're all about.
There was the kind of mix of bikes I like - everything for turbo Suzukis to Bultacos with custom BSAs mixed in.
The event takes place in the grounds of Kevington Hall, South London, that dates back to 1769, and was built by someone high up in the East India & Hudson Bay trading company. It makes a great, unusual setting. The neighbours aren't the best, though.
Royal Enfield were a sponsor. They brought some neat customs including MJR. Roach, their turbo, stretched Himalayan.
CCM were one of the companies displaying. They brought Eddie Kidd's CCM BSA.
Eddie is a living legend. I visited him for interviews a couple of times after he was paralysed. Really interesting guy and what a life he lived.
He was 16 when he jumped 13 double-decked buses. The jump this bike was used for was successful, but as sketchy as any of Evel's. Don't believe me? Watch this health and safety disaster and wonder how mid-1970s Britain hadn't killed itself in a giant chip pan fire...
Back to the Malle Mile. There were countless tasty old dirt bikes. The tent in the background is one of the 'glamping' teepees available for rent for the weekend. Very comfortable.
McQueen fantasists were in abundance.
There was modern tackle too. Like the Herald Brute 500. Anthony 'DTRA' Brown, who tested it up the hill for Sideburn 43, is giving it his best blue steel. Or perhaps he's just seen the queue for the portaloos.
This Brit-designed, Brit built tracker was turning heads all weekend.
At night there were DJs, bars, electric motorcycle dirt drag racing.
Saturday, the first full day of racing and people were in the spirit.
Mean Sportster dirt bike.
Peashooter 'spannie was l-o-u-d! I'm pretty sure this is an Indian ME 125, made by Minarelli in the 1970s.
Ride em, don't him em
Another cheeky little Euro 'crosser.
A Grumph, Triumph Twin is a Greeves chassis, complete with Earls-style front end.
Diana and Amy, a couple of our women's Morocco ride survivors. arrived and immediately hit the G&Ts.
Supreme camp vibes. I'm guessing fuel economy is not it's strong point.
Part of the Royal Enfield moto polo (motoball) team. At times even this 'fun' event got heated, showing that Brits can't even have a game of something as ridiculous as football on motorbikes without the spectre of hooliganism casting its shadow over it.
Sunday morning, worse for wear.
There are a few sidecar coffee slingers around the world, but this was the first one I ever saw, a few years ago at the Bike Shed show. Get them to your event. They're great.
The view from the Sideburn stand. Various comings...
Malle ran everything with an admirable laissez-faire attitude. I've organised events and you want to be able to trust everyone to behave, and not be idiots, but then an individual does something that makes you remember that if someone gets hurt the buck stops with you, so you put in procedures and rules to try lessen the chance. The point for me was someone drunken riding in the Dirt Quake campsite and crashing into a tent a pregnant woman was sleeping in. No organisers wants to wake up on a Sunday morning to deal with that.
Malle didn't seem to have too many health and safety protocols and the event had a very relaxed, old-fashioned feeling as a result. It's great, as long as no one is a dick, and I don't remember seeing any dick-ish behaviour (a least from the attendees. The neighbours were a different matter).
The exhibition tent (in the background of the photo above) had one of Benedict Ratcliffe's wonderful wireframe artworks on display.
Of course, it's the people that make the event. I chatted to this couple of engineers for ages. They'd travelled from Bristol in their Ural and competed on the hillclimb.
UK moto art royalty was in attendance. This is Maxwell Paternatoster and Ryan Quickfall, with Kay Pet Lamb in the middle. D-Face was there with the Rebels Alliance crew too.
BonZorro was on this weapon of a Monkey.
DTRA hooligans Charlie and Jake.
This kid did about 1000 laps of the campsite on this neat, noisy, mini cafe racer.
These munchkins all got a Sideburn hat bought by their dad. The dad got in touch later to say his son lost the blue hat (at the gale-force-wind-battered Malle Beach Race in September) and was gutted, but we'd sold out of blue ones by then. Hopefully he still wants one when we have them made again.
I just noticed they all have their toenails painted. Lockdown fun! Dismantle gender conformity!
More neat custom bikes.
Neat stock bikes too, like this Caballero 500 Rally limited edition.
Big tank XR650 (I think)
Pre-War OHC Norton 500 having an afternoon nap in the shade.
Honda TLR200 and Metisse Triumph. There were a few Metisses on site.
Interesting four-wheelers too.
This is doing it for me, especially the police prowler-style steel wheels.
I love a slimstyle Lambretta. Outboard front hydraulic disc is not period correct... Mungo Jerry chops for the win, though.
American market 'factory' racer TT Special.
Another killer Jason build.
Another Metisse (another McQueen fantasist?)
Max manning the Sideburn stand in a rare moment of not either queuing for, or eating, a stone-baked pizza.
Thanks to everyone who make it such a great weekend. It really helped me get through the summer with a smile on my face. GI
Read about the Herald Brute 500 at the Malle Mile is SIDEBURN 43.
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