The 2017 Malle Mile Weekend Motorcycle Festival
Alex took off for the weekend to the 2017 Malle Mile at Kevington Hall - a weekend motorcycle festival dedicated to inappropriate motorcycle racing and all out bike related shenanigans.
Since it's initial run three years back, the Mile has surged in popularity, particularly with the custom scene, and yes, the bearded hipster crowd as you might call it. Sponsoring it this year were high end helmet maker Hedon, and bike manufacturer, Royal Enfield.
It all started around three years ago, when two British designers; Robert Nightingale and Jonathan Cazzola got bored of long hours in workshops making their motorcycle luggage line. Eager to get back on bikes and race them in fields like they did when they were kids, they set about organising a family friendly event where they could do just that.
Split into three days, the Malle Mile hosts two main events: the Hill Climb, an uphill grass race with four turns (up from three turns last year) and the Sprint, a 150 or so metres dash across the grass. Any bike can compete, and the ethos is that all bikes are there to be ridden. Making appearances, were 1930s Indians, all manner of customs, old two-stroke Husqvarnas, and even the odd modded Aprilla and Triumph Speed Triple.
Spread throughout that time, were other smaller events like the Roughs Race, a monkey bike assault course that any Mile participant could take part in and Motopolo, a furious battle between two teams trying to get an oversized ball between the opposing team's goalposts.
As you might have guessed, this isn't anywhere close to a track day or motocross event; it's really just a group of people getting on some bikes and having a bit of a laugh. There's no pressure to perform (half the riders had never ridden off-road before) and it's all very family and partner friendly, with drinks and food offerred on the side, and competiing is as easy as signing up in the weeks beforehand. The atmosphere is relaxed and easy going, with games of frisbee on the main campground and kids cartwheeling all over the shop.
An event like the Mile might feel a little too trendy and hipster, but in our time there we found it was less about making a fashion statement, and more about getting everyone involved. OK, maybe it was a little bit about fashion, but I guess that's just part and parcel of the scene.
Speaking of being all inclusive though, among the eager faces was John Giles, an 88-year-old ex-factory racer for Triumph with a record of 13 international medals. He came third in the Hill Climb, wiping the floor with most of the younger guys to huge rounds of applause from the crowds.
John loved the event and said: "It reminds me of bike meet-ups in France and in the 50s. It was just good fun with good people who loved bikes. I would have probably been disqualified if it was run by ACU. It's a shame but I don't think you'll get to do things like this anymore if it gets too big."
For those that really aren't on board with the whole retro custom scene and vintage biking, the Malle Mile definitely won't appeal with the overpriced open face helmets and tweed jackets, but for anyone who doesn't mind a bit of that, it's a good laugh, and definitely one to take the missus or kids to.