The wet road glissened and sparkled in the cold night air. Cecil looked appraisingly at it and snorted, his breath hanging suspended. A crowd of lads milled around wiping dew off of saddles, adjusting helmets, or fiddling with the bikes. One by one the machines were started up. Cecil gave his Ducati a hefty boot on the kick starter to produce a deep flat fart from the Italian single. Graham pumped his Ariel Arrow like a footpump and got the temperamental two stroke going in a cloud of blue smoke and a tortured scream from the exhaust. GR on his old pre-war Velo gave his pushers a signal and sat on the machine while they did the work for him, his lack of weight making this an easier way of starting the bike than trying to force a reluctant kick starter down on the high compression single. Slowly the other bikes were started and warmed up.
Several lads walked onto the Zebra Crossing and caused the on-coming traffic to grind to a halt. The bikes filtered through the lads and lined up across the road, the riders in their equipment looking like Roman gladiators. The throttles were blipped at an increasingly faster rate until the sound reached a crescendo. Lew checked that all was ready then waved his white scarf. The Chelsea Bridge Grand prix was on.
The two Arrows of Graham and Big Ray screamed into the lead leaving the others to fight their way through the two stroke fog. Quickly Moony, Ken and the Big Feller on their big capacity twins overhauled them, the riders fighting to keep the front wheels in contact with the road, but it was GR on his long legged racing single who was in the lead as the bikes reached the end of the half mile straight and came to the large sweeping round-a-bout. GR's luck was in as there was no traffic, he clunked down two gears in quick succession and laid the heavy bike over, pouring on the power. Suddenly GR's bike developed a mind of it's own and skipped around the curved in a large vicious snake. Pulling the twisting bike upright and ripping open the throttle brought the errant bike under control but he was now going far too fast to make it round the round-a-bout so GR headed her up a side road and out of the race. The big twins hit trouble as they entered the round-a-bout. Moony and the Big Feller managed to dive into a gap between two cars. Ken, who was following, just missed hitting the second car and had to lam on his brakes, sending the back wheel into a twitching fit as it locked. The other two twins, with the backmarkers close behind carved through the traffic, first laying hard right then twitching over to the left to leave the round-a-bout and return back up the straight to the bridge.
The traffic on the return trip was quite heavy and the skill of the riders as they hopped up the line of cars amazed and petrified the drivers. The Big Feller was now clearly in the lead, being up the Bridge every night gave him plenty of practice and he was now using it to the full. The snarl from the bike's megaphones as he hit the red line on the tachometer suddenly stopped, started again, and then stopped to be followed by a loud bang. Moony waved as he passed the stricken bike and motored on leaving the others to fight over the minor places. "Patience is a virtue that very few posses.", mused Moony as he braced himself for the finish. The bike hit the metal expansion plate that joined road to bridge, Moony slid back onto the pillion seat to keep his weight over the back wheel and the front wheel up whilst the machine was airborne. Now over halfway along the bridge he slammed on the brakes and prayed. His prayers were answered, the lights were green and he could allow himself the luxury of overrunning the crossroads at the far end of the bridge.
Ken, Little Ray and Cecil quickly came alongside and they all turned and waited for Big Ray and Graham to appear. The sound from their illegal expansion boxes heralded their arrival even before the smoke did. The traffic lights changed to red. Big Ray's tyres squealed as he slid to a halt the correct side of the line. Graham dropped two gears, wound it on, and headed for a gap between the cars. By a fag paper he made it, slammed on his brakes to avoid a car coming from the other direction, and ripped open the throttle again to dive through a gap between it and the car following.
"Wot do yer do fer an encore then, Ugly?" Cecil tilted his head back to observe Gra out of the only part of his goggles that hadn't steamed up.
"Mmmmmmm, Mmmmmmm" replied Gra behind the thick woolen scarf over his mouth.
"And you!" rejoined the others as they turned their bikes round to return to the coffee stall on the Bridge.
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