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The 59th Annual Coventry Parade - Sunday 10th August 2014

Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, when I rose at 5am, the weather was dry and still, and I experienced a pleasant journey to Coombe Country Park for a rendezvous with Rob Thomas to get the event field set up for the 59th event. We were mostly done by 8am and hardly a spot of rain when my phone rang – it was the Lord Mayor’s PA who was calling to see if we had cancelled.  “Cancelled? After fifty-eight years before us? We are not going to throw the towel in that easily!” I retorted. “Besides, it is dry here (almost)”. “Dry? I am in Keresley and it is heaving down here!” came the reply. I gave an assurance that I was standing out in the middle of a field in shirt sleeves, that all was well and we would look forward to receiving the Mayor in a couple of hours time.
No sooner had the words left my mouth and the sky darkened significantly; the rain started, rapidly increasing in magnitude. We sheltered in our splendid tent that Ken Bromley loans to us, peering out on what had become a rain-lashed open space. Richard Woodcock had already arrived, trailering his most fabulous recently completed 1913 Rex v-twin, Dave Mac then swept by, in his vast mobile camping mansion, still grinning!
A steady stream followed (sic), the Lord Mayor, Councillor Hazel Noonan duly arrived and by the time the first rider was due to be flagged off we had 50 registered on our books, from an entry of 70, including three extra entries on the day!
First machines away at 11am; Dave Mac slithered off on the venerable 1911 Rudge, followed by David Payne on his fabulous 1912 Triumph. As I continued with my commentary, the rain rapidly turned my rider list to a soggy mush, calling for an ad-hoc delivery.
Very last away was Richard Woodcock on his Rex, which had refused to start - after some judicious drying out of the machine’s electrical system in the shelter of the rider gazebo, the grand old girl fired up, running a little reluctantly on “one and a bit” and he bravely headed off.
Careful and thorough organisation ensured that a fine welcome awaited all competitors at our lunch stop; Kate and Crawford and their willing team had pulled off a complete winner; large shelters were erected and filled with steaming hot pots of gastronomic delights bringing joy to the hearts of the most bedraggled!
Entrants who had decided not to venture out resulted in a surplus of food and everyone enjoys seconds when they are available – in this case, it was thirds and fourths!
Everyone’s spirits lifted and along with them so did the clouds; a clear break formed, blue sky appeared, and the sun blazed down, quickly making steam rise from the ground.
Some riders elected to head straight home but all who chose to ride back to the park did so safely. I had the joy of experiencing Richard and Linda Sleath’s fabulous 1927 AJS 8hp combination’s mesmerising exhaust note as they swept majestically off.
Riders collected their finisher award, along with some additional “treats” whilst judging duties were completed and the prize presentation hurried forward as strong winds were suddenly upon us, causing a rapid impromptu dismantling of the large tent to prevent the structure from catastrophic bending failure, we hurriedly transferred everything to the small club gazebo and presented from there, whilst restraining that structure from attempted take off!
A challenging day with regard to the weather but nevertheless a resounding success and those who attended, clearly enjoyed the fruits of the organisers labours.
Thanks to our supporters and helpers – Kate and Crawford and their team for the fabulous lunch and hospitality, Ken Bromley, Bob Taylor, Richard Woodcock, Rosie Lee, Alex and Gavin Curtis for stepping up to some judging duties, and, finally, to those who put their hands to the deck to hurriedly dismantle the large tent and of course, all the entrants, who all went the extra mile, to brave the weather and I have to give a special mention to the riders of the early machines – difficult to ride in favourable conditions – brave and skilled men indeed!
As a final word, we are looking forward to the Diamond anniversary next year – Sunday 9th August 2015 is a definite date for your diaries, the weather is already booked and the team are planning an extra special day, so we look forward to your continued support.

Geoff Booth
Event Secretary.

 

 

 

 

 

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