Raleigh Chopper Owners Club     ( www.rcoc.co.uk )                     



        THE SHOP




CLUNKER CLASSIC 2003, details at the bottom of this page!


“Corpses don’t roll over”

 After a couple of years of chatting on STW forum about racing clunkers, we all met up in a pub on Exmoor for some lunch, ales and pre race scrutinising. We had seven good guys, seven dodgy bikes, zero reliable brakes, some goggles, dodgy helmets and a fake “Tom Ritchey” tash.


As we set off I tried to kick out the back end of my rod braked postie bike to slide it round a corner but the crank snapped clean off. So I nipped back to the car and grabbed a singlespeed Chameleon. Hardly a clunker, but still enough bike to get me into trouble.


One of the yanks was complaining about his plumbs. He showed me a US Airforce medical form that read “testicular pain . . . . . bike trauma”. Cool.


The course is great, it follows a stream from about 1500ft to sea level through a wooded valley: singletrack, grass, rocks, drop offs, riverbed rocky trails, fast open swooops, several stream crossings, fast double track, tarmac through the village, and then a pub.


We stopped frequently on the 2 hour push up the hill for sustenance and eventually reached the top. We were all packing food and beer and chilled out on the hilltop for an hour or so in some of the best weather I’ve seen recently. An old guy on an old road bike declined our invitation to race but was intrigued about the whole thing and it was nice to have a spectator at the start.


A Le Man start got things going, but the first casualties were not far away. Jared’s chopper forked bike folded up on the first bit of off road, and the bike was soon discarded. He then had to walk back down to pub. Essentially meaning he had just dragged a mix of bike and car parts up a hill for 5 miles, and then walked back down. More of a rambling trip than biking weekend for Jerry. Hey, and this guy fixes F-16’s for the US Airforce, but he cant make chopper forks!


Tory tried airing over a road crossing on his Shwinn Stingray. It was grass slope up, tarmac, grass slope down, a sort of tabletop. He went for it and actually landed on top of Dan. Bruce was riding a “Wee bike” with a battering ram on the front. All the way down the course he had unplanned dismounts and full on wipeouts. I was the next victim with a big air where I landed before the bike. I skidded along on my back through a boulder field, and left some flesh on the hill. After this I took it easy and just picked up the trail of bike parts that was being left behind by the other guys. Martin’s beach cruiser was straight out of the box and coaster brakes were an entirely new concept for him. He was seen over shooting most corners and embraced the vegetation several times.


As I came down some trials motorcyclists updated us on the action at the “tete de la course”. Tory had no front tyre and was still racing. He hit some big bumps and the spring on his springer style fork blew up, soon after the front tyre blew up, followed by the rear. He raced on with his frame stretching and cranks hitting the ground. After crippling the frame, bending the cranks, wrecking the banana seat and squashing a pedal, he ditched the bike and ran the last 2 miles to the finish. His pride and joy had become twisted scrap. We were surprised that it didn’t just burst in to flames. Jared found it as he walked down and rode/carried it to the finish.


At the front of the race with Tory out of contention Dan and Dennis were duelling it out. The frequent rivers crossing meant the poor brakes were less effective than normal and subsequently they were going pretty fast. After 4 miles and a few wrecks Dan pulled away on the twisting fire road and was the first back to the finish line (the bar). The locals looked startled as he stood there in his vest and goggles, covered in mud, ordering his pint and telling everyone that he was the Clunker Classic champion.


Over the next couple of hours we all met up back at the pub, where I was adhering to furniture through the power of scabs. Only when we were all down did the gravity of the whole clunking carnage become apparent as we traded stories about “that nasty corner/river/log/rock” and “that dodgy bar/seat/frame/tyre/brake”.


Dan was awarded the winners yellow T-shirt (thanks Gil) and medal, cunningly crafted from some chain, a chainring and gold hammerlite. Dan was very pleased with his win as he rarely rides a bike and is not what you would call a mountainbiker. He confessed “If that race had had anything to do with fitness, I would not have won” and put his win down to “holding on”.


The post race celebration went on into the night, with more beer and some Black Sabbath. Bruce had to be lashed to the front of a car to transport him back to campsite. Dan checked on him in the morning and reassured everyone who was worried about him: “corpses don’t roll over”


Over a fried breakfast at a local hotel the next morning, I found a pictorial history of Porlock. The hills around these parts have been used for racing stuff up and down for many years. We were just the most recent bikers to bomb down and add a bit of social colour to Porlock and the hills. Before we split everyone had big plans for next years clunkers and there will no doubt be a lot of welding going on in a few sheds before we meet up again.



Clunker Classic 2002 Results:


Name                  On what?                          Time

1.        Dan Munt          red clunker / weed                      about 20 mins

2.       Dennis Thorn      red clunker/stash                     a bit longer

3.       Tory Neil                Stingray and on foot                         a bit longer again

4.       Martin                    red clunker/cruiser                                   about an hour

5.       Charlie Hobbs            not a proper clunker                         an hour and a bit

6.       Bruce                     wee bike with battering ram              about 90 mins

7.       Jared                     chopper then foot / pain killers            a few hours

Charlie proudly presents

The second Annual



Clunkers gathered in their masses

Just like Tom Ritchey with bad tashes

Evil minds that plot destruction

Sorcerers of death’s construction

On the trails are bodies burning

As the rust machines keep turning

Peace and scabs to mankind

Poisoning their ale stained minds

Oh lord Yeah!


The Clunker Classic is back! It’s a bit like DH rural robot wars. And this July we’re doing it all over again.


The Clunker Classic starts on Saturday 12th July with lunch in a nice pub, followed by a 5 mile ride/push/rest up 1700 feet to the top of Exmoor where we stop for more refreshments. It’s a Le Man race start followed by a 5 mile downhill, complete with technical sections, stream crossings and high speed whooping fire roads. The only rule is that you have to race on an old or inappropriate bike. We’re talking choppers, shoppers, postie bikes, beach cruisers, tandems, BMXs, anything but not a proper MTB.


To give you an indication of what to expect this year, last year:

·                            The weather was fantastic

·                            We had an international field of over half a dozen competitors

·                            We had a spectator

·                            Only three bikes rolled across the line - seven started.

·                            The guy who came third, ran the last two miles!

·                            The prize giving ceremony lasted ‘til after closing time.

·                            No one died

·                            No one even went to casualty


No entry fees, no insurance, no medics, just a bunch of people on old bikes. Accommodation is “Springfield” a nice and basic campsite very near the village (no yellow people though). Pack a picnic for the top of the hill. Pack tools and spare tubes for the way down. Wear a helmet. Feel free to dress for the occasion. We even have a trophy and world championship status.


Everyone is welcome. If you fancy getting back to basics, all you need to do is root around in the shed/garage/skip/museum and get yourself either an old or inappropriate bike. I’m available on charlie.hobbs@virgin.net if you fancy chatting about this.


Clunker Classic II

Lunch time Saturday 12th July 2003

Ship Inn


Somerset - England





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