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International Indian Rally 2007


France   26 – 30 July 2007


 We know a man who can  CanCan !

T’wasa long way to Langres – just over 400 miles into central France – a hard ride?..
Nah,  we vanned it – still, so did all the Northern Numpties so we don’t feel too bad about that.

On Thursday 26 July we  set off for Calais at 7.30 am .   Phil Clarke kindly lent us his Ducato van which had plenty of room for our bike as well as his 1938 Indian Four.   Phil & Jo with Fred & Sue were all in Phil’s camper and trailering Fred’s 46 Chief and Jo’s sweet Triumph Tiger 90.  We made Dover in good time for our 10.15 ferry and met up with Alan Gould and Tim Hanscombe in Tim’s camper -  trailering his Chief. We had an easy crossing to Calais and our three vehicles travelled in convoy on the E17 motorway down to Reims which was roughly half- way and then onto the ‘N’ roads for the rest of the journey to Langres.

We arrived at the rally site, named  FORT  VERCINGETORIX, which is actually in Chalindrey just south of Langres, about 8.30pm    . Although the rally didn’t officially start till Friday, early arrivals were being allowed in, so we registered and paid our €80 each and received our rally badge and complimentary Indian embossed drip tray – nice touch. We then set off to check out the site and find a decent pitch to set up camp.  By now, it was getting quite dark but our first unanimous impression of the site was “ What a sh*t-hole”.

We couldn’t believe we’d come all that way for THIS!...the camping field was rough and infested with these huge luminous orange slugs -  which certainly unsettled the girls somewhat. We eventually found a spot sufficiently level to park the vehicles and erect our tents and
‘turned in’ – concerned how we were going to cope with the next three days HERE!.

FRIDAY.  A good night’s sleep, the sun is up, the slugs are all gone and, after our breakfast, we go on a ‘reckie’ to re-assess the site.   WELL, what a difference – overnight, the place has transformed from a hell-hole to one of the best, most interesting rally sites we have been to. The run down Napoleonic fort, built  1874 -7, with its catacomb of arched cloisters and halls provided excellent eating accommodation and premises for the regular trade stalls.   We were all now very happy with the site and looking forward to meeting old friends and enjoying the rally.

Strolling around, we came across Mike & Sybil who had trailered their ‘4’ with its recently acquired sidecar – mmmmm, tasty,..tasty,.. very, very, tasty..indeed.!  Great to see Linda  & Tony back in the saddle with a chair mounted to his trusty 741. After lunch, Anita led a few of us on a nice ride out to Lac de la Liez where we basked in the sunshine beside a picturesque lake and enjoyed some local ice-cream – of course, the ever predictable Mr Woodgates overdid it as usual !

When we returned late afternoon, the site had filled up considerably and, with Wigwams and Totem poles erect, the  Indian camaraderie atmosphere was building up nicely. A  B-B-Q meal was available and the rest of the warm evening was spent drinking and socialising,  with background music from the sound system - and all in  the glow of  the  huge neon  Indian head  logosattached to the Fort walls.
Later, there was noticeably  copious amounts of good humoured ‘Pirating about’ by those Northern Numpties with plenty of “Aaar, Jim lad”s  and the like ringing out across the still night air.      So, why do Jesse, John & Co. think they are pirates ???

‘Cos they Aaaaaarh !       (oh dear !)

SATURDAY.   Handsome cooked ham and scrambled egg was scoffed down before setting off on the official ride out to Bourbonne les Baines.  A very attractive route, passing the pretty Lac de Charmes  and stopping to sample some free wine in Coiffe le Haut   before heading on for the included lunch at the Casino in B.les B. town square.

An easy ride back to the rally site saw the trip meter  just click over 80 miles . Fred’s recently reconned engine had performed well and Phil’s 4  ran sweet enough but developed a slight leak on one tank.  Good job Indians have two.
By now, late arrivals were squeezing in on every vacant square inch of space, sometimes having to shorten guy ropes of existing tents to make room. Still, More the Merrier, I say .

Not sure what the evening meal was , mainly pork I think, but quite palatable all the same. The planned evening’s entertainment was to begin with a live band  - unfortunately, the weather changed and the falling rain condemned the band to playing in  a small marquee – out of sight from the gathered audience  - not quite the same somehow  - STILL,  not to worry, for the BEST was yet to come……………

Around  9.30ish, the rain had long stopped and the CanCan cabaret was able to perform on the open air stage.  The show was great fun with the half a dozen dancers doing the customary high kicks and lots of frilly knickers showing to the amusement and encouragement of the crowd.

Then came the real Highlight of the evening:
When the troupe had finished their normal routine, the lead dancer came back on stage and asked for 3 volunteers.  Well,   like greased lightning, Alan Gould was up there on stage and subsequently joined by a German member and Jim Parker from Australia.

The three sporting heroes were made to wear CanCan outfits and perform various  Cancan dance moves.  I kid you not,  Alan donned his frilly skirt with such aplomb that many UK members were concerned that maybe it was something he does regularly……

Joshing apart, much thanks to all 3 ‘dancers’ who bravely threw themselves on the mercy of the baying crowd  - our game German friend, Jim Parker displaying true Antipodean culture, but most of all to Alan for his hilarious performance that must certainly rate in my all-time
‘Belly-laugh Top Ten’.

When the guffaws finally subsided , Rolly did a short presentation declaring that around170 Indians  and 400 people had attended the rally. The various prizes were then awarded, our own Mike de Bidaph  picking up the trophy  for ‘BEST NEWCOMER’  (I think )and jammy Anita sneaked a prize in the Registration Lucky Dip thingy – maybe poetic justice for not winning ‘Best Paint’, Neet. Music and supping continued into the early hours and topped off a really great day.

SUNDAY.    After yet another excellent breakfast, and following the Meeting of the Presidents, there was an official 50 mile ride out to see a collection of military bikes etc owned by M.  De Thomasson in ETUFS.  However, most of our group were still undone from the night before and missed the start. Eventually, we had all recovered sufficiently to make our own ride out so, led by Anita & Pete, with Tony & Linda, Fred & Sue, Phil and Jo and me & Val, we headed for

Lac de la Vingeanne near Longeau…. By now, most of us had worked out that Lac is French for Lake….. smart eh?

We all took lunch in the Vingeanne restaurant before heading back and luckily reaching the site just before another downpour.
A  B-B-Q meal was available in the Fort and the historic surroundings made for pleasant conversation and general wind–down for the trip home the next day.

MONDAY.      After our good-byes, we set off for Calais around 10am. – this time using  the
Motorway as much as possible. Pretty uneventful except for 2 things. The first was our van suffering a total blow-out on the rear tyre which was a bit stressy on the motorway. Still, got the spare on and caught the others up at the next Service Area. (Our mobile phones had proved invaluable )
The second incident occurred when we pulled into the town of Bethune to pick up the customary cheap booze.  Now, Phil, who evidently bunked off French at school, didn’t  notice the road sign saying:  CAUTIONIQUE.          FLURE De LO RENOCIT GARE which we now all understand to mean something like           BEWARE – LOW FLYING CAR PARKS !...............luckily,  the camper  escaped  with just minor damage to the roof vents. Fortunately, our little mishaps didn’t prevent us reaching Calais on time and we arrived home safe and sound at 11.30pm.   

Many, many Thanks to Rolly, Claude and the French team and indeed to all the attendees with  their wonderful motocycles who made for a truly splendid ‘ International Indian Rally’.         

For such was the fun and enjoyment at this event that I was frequently  reminded of when
King Henry V visited France and said:

“ Gentlemen in England now abed,  will think themselves  accurs’d  they were not here….”

Rocket Ron Wells Rocket Ron

An invitation to join team "W" for a trip to the Indian Rally at Fort Vercingetorix, which wasn’t marked on any map of the area that I Checked on, possibly because the fort built in 1874 was a ruin up to a few years ago, overgrown and forgotten.  Much has been done to restore it to it's former glory.  Strangely enough it's real name is "Le Lognelot", so finding it could have been a problem but thankfully we had a good navigator.

The plan was for Stewart to take his chief and the fore-mentioned Navigator - Rachael.  Bless her, only one mistake in over 300 miles. We all got a bit dizzy on that roundabout though!  I was to take my chief and Stewart's 741,which Victor, Stewart's cousin from Reno, Nevada, was to ride. I arrived at Stewart's place mid-afternoon and sat by the mill-stream, drinking coffee, surrounded by wild birds with the occasional fish rising, warm sun on my face, delightful.  Stewart set off to pick Victor up from the station and we had an evening meal at the nearby Swan and early to bed.  The train was leaving at 06.20am the next morning and after a good nights sleep in the empty old cottage next door, it was up in the dark, coffee and away.

Train-Tunnel, no fuss, no screaming kids running about.  Other people's kids are a bloody nuisance.  Keep them disciplined! Anyway I digress, A26 Payage most of the way with regular stops for coffee and a pee. Stayed overnight at a delightful small hotel overlooking Lake Liez.  Renovated, but delightful all the same.

The evening meal was excellent where we were joined by Pete, Anita, Bill, Lorraine and two other extremely nice people whose names escape me. Sorry.  Finished the evening off with a couple of beers on the patio.  Stewart wanted to go for a swim in the lake but gave up when one of his water wings developed a leak! A good spell in the Army would sort him out!

French Indian club had put out markers from the main town of Langres.  The fort was located on the top of a wooded hill, nice and quiet with no through traffic.  We paid our euros for our rally souvenir pack, found a nice spot for the tents and vans, kettle on for tea and
biscuits, thanks Rachael.

We un-loaded our Jurassic machines and got them ready for a ride into Langres, felt a bit sorry for Vic as both his Indian's back in
Reno are right hand throttle, but I must hand it to him, he rode very well.  Looked a bit worried at times but came through.  Well done

Friday's evening meal was good, in fact the food the whole weekend was excellent.  The next morning into town with Stewart
and Vic. Stewart looked really good on his chief, but after a beer in the main street of Langres he became a big embarrassment when
he couldn’t start his bike. W.....!

Saturday's breakfast over we checked our machine's over and got ready for the ride out, Vic looked a bit worried but as I said
earlier, he managed very well  Actually I think Vic looked better on Stewart's 741 than Stewart looks on his chiefl.  But that's only my
opinion. I'm not sure of the figures ie. Rally machines and heads. I'm sure Anita can fill that part in for me.  The ride out was o.k. some of the roads were a little rough but we ,meaning our small group, the team "W", made it to the halfway stage for large rolls and a drink
of your choice.  On the return leg we stopped for wine tasting and a look round a local wine cellar, back on the bikes and returned to the
fort.  Rachael decided to catch some rays as the weather improved and got warmer. The kettle was on by the time we parked up, so
tea, coffee plus Jaffa cakes or crisps, we lived pretty high off the hog I can tell you.  Rachael did us proud.

The evening entertainment I'm afraid I missed, as my back was playing up.  I had pulled a muscle in the pub at home a few day's
earlier.  I was trying to get my wallet out before Ray Chriss????? I Lost!!!!!!!!
From what I heard the next morning it appears our parts man, Alan Gould has a weakness for cross dressing. I hear he looks pretty sharp with both legs in one side of his draws. He made a lot of people smile that night.

As our group wasn't leaving the site until Monday morning, Stuart and I thought we'd have one last ride out. And, as it transpired, nearly our last. Coming back to the camp, on a fast left hand bend, some brain dead over took another car, on our side of the road. As we cranked well over, well, quite a way over, how he missed us I don't know. It's the closest I've come, since 1959.
Wondering around the site, I came upon Jes, working on his chief, some obscure electrical fault, or so he said, I made a comment, as to the size of his battery, which was marginally bigger than my watch battery! When I mentioned this he became a little upset, and said, the battery had given him good service, for several years!!!! Sorry Jes, it was only an observation. The problem as it turned out was traced to the amp meter. But only after it became obvious, that the test meter he was using, was also faulty!!!!!!
After breakfast, on Monday, we broke camp, loaded the machines, said our goodbye's and made Calais mid afternoon. Stuart had booked us into an "Etap" hotel for the night. So we had plenty of time to do shopping at city Europe. A few more beers at the adjoining hotel,  plus a very pleasant evening meal, which rounded off five very super days. Nice weather, good ride outs, nice hotels, and superb food, but most of all, good company. Though one, of our team was a wanker!!!!!!


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