Graham, Mark, Ken, John and I made off to Triumph Live weekend, setting off on the Friday morning we made our way along the A120 to the A10 then the A507 to Baldock then though Woburn Abbey viewing all the deer and on to the A5. We stopped for a little break at the Shell garage on the Amphill road and for me to try and sort out the satnav that had decided to not display any roads and just do its own thing! We had lost John at this point, he had decided that 60 mph (the fastest that Graham felt comfortable at on his T140) was too slow for his Thunderbird outfit and he shot off on his own.
We had earlier decided to stop for lunch, as it wasn’t a mad rush and thought it would be rather nice and British… In my head I had a place but couldn’t really remember exactly where on the A5 it was, so I just rode along with the others close behind and Ken somewhere further back.. Suddenly it appeared 'The Narrow Boat', I indicated and slowed to make the turn, apparently it caught the others out and there was a nice display of how well Triumph's do stoppies!

We had a very nice starter – they weren’t doing bar snacks today, but the Caesar salad was plenty and the surroundings of the Grand Union Canal with the narrow boats quietly drifting past was very pleasant. It was here that I got a text from Kazzie – good news - because we were in the parade we got a now full weekend ticket free! The bad news we had to be at the gate to get in to the paddock by 0830…So both not good we had already get earlybird tickets and the early start seemed grim….

I had earlier put across to the others the idea of nipping into the Triumph factory for a quick photo of the team with bikes, as it was on route. Expecting to be thrown out by security, as we pulled in we were met by guys in hi-viz who instructed us to “park over there”. I explained that we only wanted a quick photo,  “you are welcome to have a tour of the factory now if you like” was the surprise reply! So we moved into the car park and decided it would be a good move to do the factory tour now rather than the next day when it would be rush with the parade etc. Unfortunately John of course was unaware of this but Ken was soon on the mobile and John was only a few miles up the road so we waited for him.

It was great going around the factory as it was fairly quiet and they allowed photography this year! We got close up to the new Trophy that’s due to be released next year. I think we all enjoyed it, even those of us that had been here (and the old number 1 factory) before. So now the complete group made it way to the camping site via the petrol station for fuel and shopping centre to get the breakfast items. We arrived at the site about 5ish, the separate TOMCC members area didn’t exist? So we just found a empty patch and pitched our tents whilst swigging on beers, well me and Mark did…

We had a wander around the site for a while but soon it was time for grub after walking around the food stalls we decided on good olde fish-n-chips, so back we went back finding Mark already devouring a portion of which turned quite a good choice. We had a few more beers and decided to investigate the parade, as we were a little confused as to what was really supposed to happen. After a phone call to Kazzie we made our way to the ticket tent up near the main entrance, here we got our ‘exhibitors’ wrist band and were offered our weekend passes! The rest of the evening was spent milling about and listen to the bands the headliner being Reef, as we had an early start we turned in when the bands finished.

So up early the next day, get the bikes around to gate A, security say we need vehicle passes! Go to ticket tent – not officially open until 9… the guy that gave us the arm bands said we don’t need passes… Kazzie arrives with more paraders – after about half an hour of general chaos we were finally led on to the track to get to the paddock area.

The parade started at 1050 so we spent the time looking around the various attractions, Mark and me were in the new bike marquee when we saw a crowd gathering around a covered bike? So we joined in standing just behind Steve Parrish and waited to see what was going to be unveiled – I was thinking maybe a special Trophy but it turned out to be an XC version of the Explorer – and with tubeless spoked wheels – at last!

About 1030 we gathered with the bikes to get ready for the parade, we were supposed to go in a set order so the commentator could ‘sync’ the notes to the bikes. Kazzie read out names and the name of the person to follow – which was totally useless as I pointed out because we didn’t all know each other! Doh! In the end they tried to arrange us in order, not sure if it worked? Anyway eventually we were off out onto the track, the pit lane comes out just after the finish line and we rode around at about 40-50mph staying behind the person on front so not to upset the order for the commentary. We came round to the start/finish line to complete a lap and once pass it the person in front of me shot off? So I followed and the rest of the 4-5 laps were a bit quicker than I envisioned but it was great fun – what does a yellow flag mean?   Soon the chequered flag came out and we were red flagged into the paddock, parking the bikes up ready for the afternoons race…er I mean parade.

Now time to have good look around the show – so much to look at new bikes, old bikes, etc etc. Watch the racing, stunt riding and other parades etc etc, but soon it was time for the second race…. parade, this time we just went out had a warm up lap then just went as fast as we wanted, throttle on the stop, top gear, head down along the start/finish straight. And Ken who wasn’t pre-booked in managed to blag his way into the afternoon session, which was done in the warm sunshine.  But soon it was all over, so time for a pint from the real ale stand I discovered in the paddock earlier on, we had to wait anyway before we could move the bikes off the circuit.

So it was back to camp, crack a few tinnies and get ready for the evening entertainment. I managed to get separated when I stopped to talk to an old friend from Colchester but there was so many extra people there on the Saturday that had come to see the main band the Kaiser Chiefs that it was just impossible to find anyone again. The next morning when I appeared from my tent I found Graham and Mark already up, so I started to back up, Ken and John were still in their pits by the time we had almost finished packing. I wasn’t too bothered about hanging around for 2 hours while breakfast cooked (I could be home in that time) so I let Graham know I was thinking of shooting off, but he was thinking the same and so was Mark! So in the end we left Ken and John behind and they hung around and had double rations, John was going on a detour anyway and Ken was happy to tag along with him…

It was about 8 am when Graham, Mark and myself made for home, we agreed that we would stop for a quick coffee break after about an hour. We ended stopping at the famous Jacks Hill Cafe. Graham and me had poached eggs on toast, Mark had a fried breakfast and he had hardly sat down before his number was called! The eggs weren’t much further behind – wonderful service and great place especially with all the bikes coming and going whilst sat watching them through the window.  

We were soon off again with a brief fuel stop at Buntingford, along the A120 at Bishops Stortford I stopped because I’d lost sight of Mark and Graham, I let them pass me and decided to play tail end charley. Its hard leading a group, not only do you have to look where you’re going, the traffic around you, the road signs and the sat nav but to have to keep checking on those behind you… So Graham led the rest of the way along the A120 and this is where it all got a bit strange… Now remember Graham wasn’t happy going much more than 60 mph so when I was leading I tried to stay around that speed, but now we’re ‘cruising’ well above that! and I saw 85 when overtaking!  It turned out that his speedo didn’t go above 60 so all the time (he’s had the bike?) he’s been caning it everywhere thinking he was only doing 60 where the vibration was getting too much to go any faster, on my T140 this equates to about 110!

So that was that Triumph Live 2012 had come to an end, I think Graham was glad I pressurised him into taking the bike instead of the car in the end. And apart from a bit of back firing, slipping clutch, oil leak, hanging back on hills, it ran fine all weekend! And put a simile on his face…We all had a great time, the weather tried to spoil things but failed with only a little bit of light rain on the Friday night and a cloudy start to Saturday but the rest was sunny and dry. It’s a shame more didn’t go because it was a smashing weekend and this isn’t a yearly event so until the next one whenever that is? Thank you Triumph for putting on such a good show!!!

See you there next time! Stephen.

 

~ Click thumbnails for larger images ~

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Picture show by Pete Kelly

 

 More pictures and videos to come soon...