The Classic Motorcycle Rally

by Coen Deetlefs

Having made the decision not to ride solo motorcycles anymore, I was tempted to do one last DJ with the Zenith and sidecar and my son's friend Andy Murray volunteered to be the driver again.

The whole week prior to the event the weather had not been of the best and on our way down to Durban itself the weather was clearing and by Friday morning we had blue skies.

The usual feeling of suppressed excitement prevailed at the Holiday Inn parking area with not so much work being done on machines this year. There were more than 100 motorcycles on display, a number not having been seen on the DJ before.

The documentation was as efficient as always and this year we were given our route schedules in the morning, making life much easier and we thus had a relaxing evening at our favourite Chinese restaurant just round the corner from the Holiday Inn.

There was an innovation in the route schedule in that the marshal points were shown as being between two reference points, thus contributing to a more relaxed ride and resulting in very low errors for the top riders.

The route this year went the usual way through the Valley of a Thousand Hills and being in the sidecar gave me an opportunity to enjoy the scenery, especially as we went past the Midmar Dam wall with the water flowing over the spillways looking just like lace curtains blowing in the wind.

Hosken's had again come forward with very good sponsorship including paying for all the petrol. The organisers had given each competitor petrol coupons and meal coupons in the correct sequence for use along the route. Most of the service stations provided tea and snacks at each petrol stop and most welcome it was too.

We were bowling along merrily on the last leg of the day's run to Newcastle when there was spitting back through the carburettor of the Zenith. At first just one cough and then another more loudly and the bike came to a standstill. Andy kick-started it, it would idle but not run on opening the throttle. When we used full choke we could proceed at a slow pace and so we proceeded to find to our dismay that we had stopped only about half a kilometre from the last marshal. Subsequently we found that this had cost us just over three minutes penalty.

We struggled on to Newcastle where after supper Andy took the carburettor to pieces, no less than four times changed the two exhaust valves, cleaned and reset the magneto points with eventual success. By this time it was nearly midnight and he decided to do a test run early in the morning. When I met him at breakfast next morning he had already been for a long ride and pronounced the Zenith fit for the run to Johannesburg.

The rest of the rally was uneventful with a lunch stop at Greylingstad. This time a buffet lunch at the Total service station where I enjoyed my usual prickly pears which are a feature of this lunch stop.

The finish at the Market in Johannesburg was well-organised with numbered bays for parking and VVC marshals helping out.

The prize-giving in the form of a late breakfast at the Holiday Inn in Sandton was a pleasant affair, the only pity being the inability of Graham Walker of Hosken's to attend due to a case of food poisoning.

This was probably one of the best DJ rallies we have had and our thanks go to Hosken's for their very generous sponsorship, to Clerk of the Course John de la Hunt for an excellent route schedule, Joan Meldrum for attending to entries, Joan Mooney for accommodation and Mike Bosman Chief Marshal and all the other officials.

Hosken's had generously donated two additional trophies, one each for the best performance of day one and day two. These went to George Corlett for day one and Paul Vink for day two.

Of the 110 starters 84 machines finished the run; there were 19 BSAs, 11 Triumphs, 9 Nortons and 9 Velocettes with about 17 other makes making up the rest.
Andrew Robertson, youngest rider to complete the course.
George Corlett receiving the Hosken trophy for best performance on the first day.
Paul Vink with an amazing 30 seconds error on the second day receiving his trophy from Julie Hulbert.
Kevin Robertson, overall winner, receiving his trophy from Julie Hulbert of Hosken Insurance Brokers.
Serious business at documentation.
Bill van Dongen pushing off on his 1911 Precision.
Jannie van der Mescht on his 1933 Rudge Ulster.
Doing her duty, John Pitchford's wife cleaning his 1936 BSA.
Scrutineering, Mark Corlett's BSA being checked by Dick Osborne.
Viv Lyons the oldest rider on the run, powers his Harley Davidson combination away from Newcastle.
Gunter Russek, manager of the Holiday Inns in Durban waiting to start on his 1927 Indian.
The neat 1935 350 c.c. Triumph owned by Eddy Whitehorn.
Two veterans, Sonny James and Laurie Zeeman on Sonny's 1934 Triumph and sidecar.