So we’re hanging around outside the Ace Café, waiting to head out on the run down to the Autolegends Show at Chelsea’s Royal Hospital. The Victory is lined up with 30 or so other bikes, waiting for the order to head off. But there’s no sign of ‘face of the Ace’ Mark Wilsmore. He was due to lead the run, but it seems he’s gone AWOL somewhere in Germany (he later turns up at Frankfurt, having missed his connection). Ace manageress Kim asks me: “Will you lead the run?” It’s a great honour to be asked, but I have to decline: “Er, I’d love to, but I don’t know the way.”
Luckily, I’m saved the ignominy of getting a bunch of bikers hopelessly lost in London traffic by a volunteer who does know the way. And we’re off. I haven’t ridden a bike in convoy for many years and had forgotten what a great feeling it gives you. The Cross Country was born to motorcade – massive presence, monstrous torquey V-twin that’s happy to trundle along and the great sense of satisfaction you get from mastering such a monstrous piece of machinery at walking pace, feet up on the boards.
By the time we cross the KIngs Road we’re a bit straggled out, but return to formation as we enter the lush grounds of the Royal Hospital, where the Chelsea pensioners hang out. Autolegends is a car-based show, but an appreciative crowd gathers, all smiles and cameras. Even more gather as I bounce the Victory’s motor off its rev limiter. With the stage one, level one pipes, it gives off a weirdly resonant mothership-like throb that seems to have a Pied Piper-like effect on petrolheads of all persuasions.
In all, it’s a great day, awash with some great bikes and superb cars. It’s also awash with rain. Which reminds me – I’m about to finalise a trip to the hopefully sunnier climes of Portugal. Tell you how I get on next time…
Victory Cross Country, £15,995
Power (claimed): 89bhp
Torque (claimed): 113ftlb
Dry weight: 345kg