The 39th Loch Ness Rally

One of the most keenly anticipated events of the summer in the Scottish Highlands is the Highland Classic Motorcycle Club’s Loch Ness Rally and we are delighted that the club’s membership secretary Dode Fraser was there with his camera.

The new and the old: Dode Fraser’s Hinckley Triumph with John Loosemoore’s 1951 Panther M100.

Among the many classic motorcycle runs held in this green and pleasant land there is a friendly rivalry as to which has the most scenic and bucolic route. Now it’s certainly a debate in which I have no intention of suggesting any favourites, but it would be impossible not to think that the Highland Classic Motorcycle Club’s Loch Ness Rally doesn’t have a very good claim to be among the frontrunners for that title.

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Bert McKay (left) with his 1919 Douglas.

The club, which was started in 1983, was originally aimed at owners of older British, European and American motorcycles. But within three years it had realised that there was a whole classic world being excluded and, from 1986, the rules were changed to include Japanese bikes over 20 years old. Now just about anyone is welcome and now with more than 70 members the club runs a programme of events over the year, from its regular meetings at the Chieftain Hotel in Inverness to monthly run outs (which also cater to smaller and more elderly steeds), barbecues, quizzes, guest speakers and other social outings. 

And here is John Loosemoore, suitably caffeinated, out on the run on his M100.

Always best to have a strong coffee before attempting to

kick-start a Panther!

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But the jewel in the Highland Classic Motorcycle Club’s sporran is its Loch Ness Rally, held (pandemics permitting) on the second Sunday in June. This year saw an assortment of machinery gather at the Fairways Golf Club in Inverness before taking part in a 75-mile run around some magnificent countryside.

In all, 97 motorcycles spanning some 83 years took part, riding in glorious sunshine and under blue skies around Loch Ness with roads to suit everyone. After that, it was back to the golf club for the presentation of concours trophies, as well as club awards, not to mention a raffle. (Last year this saw the Forres, Nairn and District Riding for the Disabled (RDA) presented with a cheque for £100.)

Three modern Japanese classics – a

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Suzuki GSX-R750, a Kawasaki Zephyr 750 and, of course,

a Honda CBX1000 – and all welcome on the run.

Raring to go, John Cartnell on his 1955 Triton and

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John Williams, run organiser, on his Triumph.

The run is open to classic motorcycles more than 25 years old and this year the oldest motorcycle taking part was Bert McKay’s wonderful 1919 Douglas. Mr McKay’s machine won the Milburn Shield for the oldest motorcycle, while both man and machine were awarded the McKay Shield which is presented to the partnership of oldest rider and oldest motorcycle. There were quite a lot of examples of the word ‘oldest’ in that sentence, but I hope that I am as spry as Bert when I reach his age.

The Highland Classic Motorcycle Club has members not only in Scotland but also Wales and England, and the Loch Ness Rally attracts riders from far and wide. So, each year, the Loch Ness Shield is awarded to the rider who has travelled the longest distance to attend the rally and in 2022 that trophy went to Simon Freeman who had ridden his 1964 Francis-Barnett Cruiser some 490 miles from his home in Norfolk. Take a look at these photos and you will see why.

The Loch Ness Rally caters to everyone and it was good

to see this brace of smart scooters.

The car park at the golf club was very well organised

with bike numbers designating each place. In the foreground is

Stuart Elkes’ 1963 Francis-Barnett Cruiser 91.


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