Wet, windy and tons of fun, The Mile Beach Race, Margate

Indian motorcycle on Margate beach
When Malle London announced their beach race, my mind turned to thoughts of Pendine Sands, The Race of Gentlemen, Normandy Beach Races and the Rømø Motor Festival. Then I noticed the location, Margate. In my mind, a dismal, run-down location, but it does have a beautiful, golden sandy beach…

With 2020 being the year it was, the original May event had to be postponed until September. While frustrating for all involved, it was the right thing to do, and I don’t think the event suffered in any way as a result of the date change.

Following on from their successful Malle Mile in August, the Malle London team did another great job in preparing and running a safe, friendly and exciting event. Hats must be tipped to Robert, Jonny and the whole team.

Every outdoor event organiser is at the mercy of the weather, and this weekend was wet and windy, very wet and windy. I was only going for the Saturday, so I opted to drive down, not fancying the long wet ride home with camera gear.

Around 250 people registered to race and there were at least that number again hanging around, trying to find shelter from the wind while waiting for activities to begin.

Margate beach

Hot beach racing action

Racing was due to start at 10:00, but even with the best King Canute impersonations, the tide was insistent on doing its own thing. When the waves finally retreated the team set about moving the track marker flags further down the beach. Even then, the occasional rogue wave caught them out. Very soon we had a firmish 1/8th of a mile sprint marked out ready for action.

The sight of riders and machines riding across the beach to the ‘pits’ was impressive. Inappropriate motorcycles of all kinds were in attendance – classics, street racers, monkey-bikes and mopeds. Most of which were sporting chunky, knobbly tires. Some machines had also been ridden many miles to the event, set up in beach-race-spec. Can you imagine the discomfort, noise and ‘interesting’ handling that may result in?

Spectators were safely spaced out and lined up the length of the track. Racers were lined up behind the start line and the sighting runs commenced.

Harley Davidson on Margate beach

Like greyhounds released from an endless lock up, most riders ignored the take it easy suggestion and just gunned for the finish line en-mass. And what a sight and sound. Among the wind and rain, there were smiles everywhere which continued throughout the day as various heats and finals proceeded.

There was a race schedule, but I can’t elaborate on it as I was to busy battling the elements, trying to capture images of the shenanigans, to keep track of times and winners. In my book, every person on that beach was a winner, the riders, the marshalls and the spectators.

After seven and a half hours of weather-beaten fun, I had to admit defeat and seek shelter. I was wet, very cold, my hands were refusing to work properly and with my camera controls becoming harder to use I decided to call it a day. But what a day. The whole of The Malle Motorcycle Club team should be rightly proud for pulling this event off. Not only were they fighting the elements on the day, but also a global pandemic, with changing guidelines. Yet they pulled together and provided us with another amazing event, thank you and here’s to next year.

On a separate note, Margate if I could have this much fun on a weather-beaten day like that then maybe, just maybe, I’m warming to your charms.

Auto Moto, Malle beach race magazine cover

I’ve been looking to expand on just writing blog posts to share my adventures. While screens are good for sharing things, I have a passion for print. Holding a book or magazine still feels special to me so I’ve published an extended version of this story as a magazine. It’s a full colour, 52-page publication printed on quality paper containing nearly 100 images and my full write up. This is a personal project but enough people have asked to buy copies that I’ve had a very short run printed. If you’re interested then use the link below to purchase a copy.   

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