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As seen in issue 429 of back street heroes

Now in its 5th year this event is held in the grounds of Kevington Hall in South East London, well by saying London it’s on the outskirts Bromley way, but it really is amazing how so close to central London we have some amazingly beautiful places. Which even the constant rain the couple of days before couldn’t dull.

The mile as it is affectionately known bills itself as “the greatest and most inappropriate motorcycle racing festival in the country. A celebration of the motorcycle in all its forms, with a non-stop programme of very inappropriate motorcycle racing. A celebration of the British summertime, the motorcycle culture, with live music from the bands stage, the expedition exhibition, The Mile Metropolis, The Malle100 and the Malle Mile.

Wow that’s quite a statement to stand by and so it was time to investigate, several custom shops I follow, and friends also rave about this event, so I cleared my diary and on a thankfully cooler and promising to be drier day than recently I found myself in a field surrounded by bikes and motorcycling paraphernalia.

I was amazed at how many people were there with other 450 bikes racing and lots of supporters it was busy, in fact the organisers say it was the busiest yet, but never felt packed which is nice. Camping was tucked away on the surrounding high ground, with some campervans etc lower down, there was Glamping available for some too.

The tracks were all marked out on the various fields around the main house, which is an old stately home, and in the centre, was the main area where exhibitions and food were available. With Malle being makers of luggage, apparel and adventure accessories there were some great talks by some bike adventurers. One of the simplest tips that was quoted, and I firmly believe in, is when in foreign parts always learn please and thankyou it does go a long way. In south East London I believe the greeting to be Oi Oi Saveloy, but I digress. Strangely I was impressed by the coffee sidecar too which was a quirky use of a Russian combination.

My mate Matt appeared but a little worse for wear from the previous night’s party, apparently a glass he used was damp or something like that, and he was loving his first time at the do. It was very much a family affair as well with lots of children and randomly people having picnics too. I did find bringing own chair was a must as the haybales were a tad on the damp side, which when sat on soaked trousers in seconds not that I did that did I. Coughs shuffles feet looks at ground and tries to look innocent while adjusting stance so not to walk like John Wayne.

Being a rain or shine event racing was already underway, with many wearing the correct wet weather attire of black bin bags. Although there is a class system for bikes, I never did quite work it out with what appeared to be Harley choppers against 1960’s Husqvarna’s and scooters against modified homebuilt Kawasaki’s.  There always seemed a great melee of throbbing engines, around the start line and practicing. But what struck me most was despite this damp start were the smiles, no one was chickening out and there was a great sense of camaraderie.

As the racing continued, so the sun came out, bin bags came off and the outfits more garish, but also the racing became more frantic as the track got sloppier and muddier creating even more of a challenge for those on road tires. Let’s just say a 250 Honda super dream can be entertaining to watch. This also meant more egging on by the crowd as they tried to persuade riders to go faster. But would I try it, not on your nelly as I am not fast and don’t bounce well. I am also not sure that the contestant which was using a Harley with hand gearchange thought this through, but he was going for it.

There were several different tracks, and all attacked with the same gusto, and with some brilliant commentary from the guys in the mobile commentary truck, sometimes you can just ignore the commentary, but these guys really did make it. The hill climb also had a mini race for juniors with children racing both up on motorised bikes and down on bicycles and they were given great support.

In a nod to moving to new technology there was a zero emissions race, ran on Saturday night which the team at Slaughter House Customs won in most heats on their much-modified electric Swiss Postal bike.

And if one day wasn’t enough racing for you it was all done again the next day on a slightly drier track.

Sadly, though as has happened at a few other events recently there were some folk who must spoil fun, as a few bikes were stolen overnight.  Which does taint an otherwise superb event, but ultimately the question is, would I go again, the answers a resounding yes, but definitely with a chair.

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