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Old 11-06-2011, 03:21 AM   #1
Three Dawg OP
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The National Rally of Scotland 2011

A quick note here, I've added some pics taken at different times to illustrate this report as during the rally there isn't much time to hang around taking arty photos. Also, this piece has appeared in the Laverda owner's club magazine.

Well at the third attempt, Keith Nairn, Steve Hobson and myself entering as Team Laverda Scotland were actually able to field a full complement of Laverdas for this year's National Rally of Scotland. A triplet of RGSs no less, in my opinion the weapon of choice for the discerning rallyist.

Team Laverda Scotland. Magnificent!


For those who don't know, this is a 'scatter rally' similar to the better known ACU English National. The idea is to ride a set Challenge (there are several to chose from) which generally involves covering a certain distance (in our case 440 miles) passing through pre determined checkpoints in a certain time before finishing at the Final Control near Crianlarich.

The Official Rally map showing the checkpoints- you can start pretty much anywhere you like unless you're attempting one of the 'fixed point' challenges devised each year by the organisers and it runs all over Scotland. For the two main challenges (there are about half a dozen to choose from including a much longer 'Touring' award) you start on Saturday morning and have to visit a cetain number of these points and pick up a receipt (from gas stations or shops usually) to prove you've been there and have covered the number of miles necessary. These receipts and your rally log are then presented at the final control before midday on the Sunday of the rally.


Team Laverda Scotland were joined for the rally by my mate Andrew who came along as an individual entry. Andrew has a perfectly good Laverda SF2 twin, but decided that his BMW1150RS would be a better bet for keeping up with three hard charging one litre Italian triples. The weather looked as though it wasn't going to co-operate, but what the hell, we'd be fine, each of TLS tucked in behind one of the most effective fairings ever to grace a motorcycle. Confidence was high when we convened at my place in Inverness on the Friday evening for the traditional pre-rally curry and beers.

The Route:


We hit the road on Saturday morning in damp conditions some time after half nine, and therefore late, with over 400 miles ahead of us before our overnight stop in Glencoe- roughly where the number 23 is on the map.

We splashed east out of Inverness along the Moray coast to Nairn and our first receipt/check point. Mindful that the clock was ticking I quickly grabbed a Kitkat (food of champions!) and my receipt, but by the time I came out of the kiosk at the petrol station it was clear something was up: Hobson was nowhere in sight. A passing driver stopped and told Andrew that Steve was stranded by the side of the road a couple of miles outside Inverness. A text on my phone confirmed the bad news, the electrical gremlins detailed in the last LVV (La Vera Vista, the International Laverda Owners Club magazine) had resurfaced and his bike was going nowhere.

Now Keith is pretty handy with these old bikes being the man behind Glasgow based Laverda Scozia, Laverda engineers par excellence, but he had no test gear with him and wasn't confident that he could do anything by the side of the road. So we decided that recovery was the best option for Steve and we'd carry on with the ride anyway. Andrew was all for going back and holding Steve's hand, but I suggested in the strongest possible terms that he should carry on and make the most of the day. He was on an individual entry, so although the Team's fox was shot he'd still be in with a chance of a finish.

Andrew's Laverda- more reliable than a BMW?


So - Andrew disappeared off in the direction of Aviemore and we called Steve to let him know what we were going to do. But incredibly, even before we'd got our lids on, Andrew reappeared saying his brakes had gone (his bike has BMW's slightly suspect servo brakes) and sure enough his warning lights were flashing like mad. Bloody hell, the whole thing was turning into a farce. Fifteen miles covered and two men down already! Andrew couldn't continue so headed back to Inverness and Keith and I pressed on to the next receipt point in Aviemore.

No fuel at the Evanton checkpoint


By now we were already very behind schedule. Not a problem in terms of getting to the pub that evening, but I had wanted to get the ferry from Skye to Mallaig so we could have a go at the wondrous 'Road to the Isles' down to Corpach near Fort William. This meant we needed to be in Armadale on Skye at about four. Trying to make up time we slipped and slid our way as best we could on wet roads south over Dava Moor to Aviemore, the bustling hub of the Cairngorms National Park. From there we headed west over to Fort Augustus at the bottom of Loch Ness.

We then pointed the bikes north, dodging the tourist coaches alongside a gloomy Loch Ness into the wilds of Sutherland and the village of Lairg. Negotiating single track roads on a light throttle we crept west to Ledmore Junction, and from there rode rather more briskly south on fast, empty roads through the ancient and unusual landscape of Assynt. Here the 3000 million year old rock has been carved by ice over millenia into vast and steep crags which make a dramatic backdrop to an amazing road. This winds down eventually to Loch Broom and the town of Ullapool.

The Ullapool Checkpoint- Loch Broom Filling Station.


The weather remained changeable to say the least, but after a quick stop for fuel at one of the most picturesquely situated petrol stations the UK, we charged on. From Ullapool we continued south towards Skye along some epic roads through mist shrouded mountain scenery, but by now it was becoming clear that we weren't going to make the ferry. So at Lochcarron village we pulled the plug on that idea, and implementing 'Plan B' headed over the hill to pick up the Skye road back to the Great Glen and Fort William. One last stop for fuel and we were at last nearly at Glencoe, ready for a well overdue beer.

On the way to Fort William- Ben Nevis in the background. If only the weather had been like this on the day


We'd found out that Steve had arranged for his sick bike to be dumped in Glasgow and was heading north again in his van, which he'd left at Keith's having driven up on Friday. And Andrew was also mobile again, so we were all going to make it for the evening booze up. Keith and I arrived at the Clachaig Inn just outside Glencoe village at about seven, after about nine hours of hard but hugely enjoyable riding. Other than me suffering a bit of a stiff leg (it's full of metal) we both felt good and were soon in the bar with the other two.

After a night drinking beer and talking the usual bollocks we crashed out. Steve was off first thing the following day to get back to sunny Surrey, leaving his bike at Keith's place for some TLC. I'm sure it will benefit from the attentions of a top engineer rather than the haphazard ministrations of the 'guru' who has previously worked on the bike, and it will be back better and stronger than ever next year.

Andrew's problem turned out to be the wussie handlebar guards he fitted to his bike because of the rain that was forecast. The one on the brake side was fouling the lever slightly and that had caused the servo/ABS system to shut down. Should have taken the Laverda, it would have been fine...

Over breakfast Keith and I decided that although Team Laverda Scotland was a DNF we'd head down to Crianlarich to fly the Laverda flag regardless, effectively completing the rally even though we weren't in line for an award. A wind and rain lashed run over Rannoch Moor to Tyndrum followed, but of course the bikes blasted on, oblivious. There were very few interesting machines at the Final Control at The Suie Lodge near Crianlarich, most entrants I suppose deciding to take the easy option of a modern bike, given the weather.

The run home was straightforward enough with the weather clearing from Perth as I headed north. A big accident had closed the A9 near Dalwhinnie, so after passing all the cars winding down the diversion I had a very clear run to Inverness and was able to give the RGS its head on dry-ish roads. What a fantastic bike it is for fast cross country travel, and I remain mystified (especially after the 1000km I spent in the saddle during this event) as to why it's not considered Laverda's finest product. In my view it most certainly is.

Another Laverda mounted entrant, Bob Scott on his SFC1000, ran into bad weather and closed roads which scuppered his first attempt at the rally. He promises to be back next year.

The National Rally of Scotland takes place on the second weekend of September each year and costs a measly 9.00 to enter. It's a blast!

At the Final Control



PS The problem with Steve's bike turned out to be the ignition trigger which he'd forgotten to Loctite to the end of the crank. An easy fix, but with the weather the way it was...

PPS With his permission I include the organiser's contact email. The rallymaster is Colin Pate and he can be reached on: redhunter at tiscali dot co dot uk

Three Dawg screwed with this post 12-12-2011 at 10:38 AM Reason: speling
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:54 AM   #2
bobw
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Sounds like a great Rally and excellent mates to enjoy the run with. Any more photos of the bikes you could post?

Cheers
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:53 AM   #3
Three Dawg OP
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Haven't got too many of Keith's Bike, although it has been the cover bike in Classic Bike magazine here in the UK - few months ago now though- but here's a couple more for ya:

If you're into these things note the GSXR1100 wheels, brembo 4 pots, Mikuni RS36 smoothbores and shotened forks.

Keith at Applecross


This has been posted before, but it's my old Laverda triple and Andrew's SF2 somewhere famous



Two RGSs at a petrol station in Malaig


Steve's bike on a previous Scottish- you may notice from the first pic in the report that he's fitted twin lights. Made the thing look as though it had been goosed!


My bike out of fuel (10 mile reserve-WTF?) at Culloden Battlefield where Bonnie Prince Charlie came to the end of his adventure in 1746


And sunning itself by the beach at Arisaig

Three Dawg screwed with this post 11-06-2011 at 08:00 AM
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:55 PM   #4
bobw
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Beautiful scenery and sweet bikes. The last Laverda I saw for sale in a shop was around 1977 or so, just impressive motorcycles. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:37 AM   #5
Three Dawg OP
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Glad you enjoyed it. You may occasionally see one about-there a quite a few in the States- but they were too expensive in their day to sell in large numbers.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:40 PM   #6
FotoTEX
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Beautiful bikes in a beautiful country. One of my favorite places on the planet is Scotland, right after my home, Texas. The road to Applecross is beyond words. Then again, so is most of Scotia.
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