words & images: JB
With the summer of 2021 drawing to a close the Malle London guys decided to again celebrate British culture, in the form of seaside and biking, with a keen speed run along the Margate sands. It was kind of racing, but the ultimate race was that against the rising tide…
You go storming up a beach for an eighth of a mile, next thing you know, you got a new buddy.
FLYING THE FLAG
Jonny Cazzola and Robert Nightingale of Malle London give the rider briefing. Robert: “This is our second year doing the Beach Race. Last time we had 50mph winds and 10-foot waves battering the beach so that was a challenge. This year we’ve got kinder weather and a lot more riders. It’s still a challenge, we have to be up at 4am to start the course laying and even with a 9am first race it’s a job to get all the racing done before the tide comes back in and sweeps everything away. We love coming here, the local council love us being here too, Margate has a history of motorcycle fun and games, like the mods and rockers scene in the Sixties, so it’s kind of in their blood too. It’s about a love of the culture, and a bit of a celebration of British eccentricity!”
HELP ME (R)HONDA
The toughest ride of the day was getting onto the beach itself, through the deep sand. You wouldn’t think Charlie Hagan’s ride would be a good choice for sand, but no, he actually rocked the strip, clip-ons and all…
The first competition was the eighth mile sprint. Just aim for the gap between the pylons, pin it and try and beat the guy or gal next to you. Surprisingly this can be a lot more complex than you’d think. Old bikes don’t like fast gear changes, powerful bikes just dig deep trenches…
Marc Kimpton is a serial Malle competitor, the Beach Race being his fourth Malle event, riding his 1969 Yamaha DT1 (pictured here with his mate George Sinclair on a ’78 Kawasaki KDX125). “I come for the culture – the bike culture – and the Malle ethos. I try to be not competitive, but you can’t help but try, so I was in the final four here in the Lightweights and I got a second in the hill climb at Grimsthorpe Castle – the DT1 goes best when there are corners. And the riding gear? Yeah, if you can’t wear the gear and look the part you shouldn’t really be at a Malle event, should you?!”
Waiting for their turn. The event is for ‘inappropriate motorcycles’ which was of course broadly interpreted.
If we had the spare cash we’d be making an offer for Dean Searles’ XL600R with P-D tank right now. Anya Colley here was one of many female competitors, all of whom wore the broadest smiles.
350cc’s and a rigid rear end finds better traction for Stuart Jenkins and his Matchless G3L as he aces Simon Warren’s Triumph Metisse off the line
Alex Elbrow and his buddy had their work cut out keeping their YZ490 sidecar on all three wheels. They were gamely leading a race around the pylons when the task proved too much and the chair bucked then forward-rolled throwing the pair pretty heavily to the ground. Alex was driven away with a suspected broken collarbone…
Steve McQueen said that, eh? ‘Racing is life, anything that happens before or after is just waiting.’
Martin Stacey cut a dash with his speedway bike, or at least we think he did, it was difficult to see through the smokescreen.
Two bikes here that you’d give the most thorough of cleans after the ride. Watching the heavyweights flying on the sand you felt a certain anxiety!
Easily one of the fastest machines on the sand was this H-D WLC 45 ridden with commitment by Nick Ashley. The hand gear shift was no handicap and the geometry seemed to suit the sand well. Nick was clearly enjoying himself too.
There was no lack of madness and ingenuity among the entry, but Kai Bailey was one who elevated the art form, bringing his turbo’d GSX-R1100-engine’d ’77 Kawasaki Z1A for a one-off ride. “I guess the bike, this event, it’s a ‘you only live once’ kind of thing. And yes, 240hp – at 8000rpm running 10psi boost – it’s a laugh. I ride this on the road, to the shops, but I got some eBay wheels and tyres to run this event. It’s the end of the riding season anyway and I’ve planned a complete strip and rebuild so I’m not worried about the sand and the salt.”
Ignore the expression, Simon Lancaster was very comfortable sliding his modded DR600 around the pylons.