The 2016 Malle Mile

Film by We Are Shuffle / Photographs by Dominic Hinde / Words by Robert Nightingale

At 7am on the morning of the 5th of July 2015, I woke up on the floor of a yurt in a pair of wet swimming trucks, every muscle in my legs ached and my face, neck and arms were sunburnt to a painfully deep red/purple colour – that’s probably what prompted the midnight dip a few hours earlier… and the rum.

I walked across the dewy lawn of Kefington Hall, where there were a few black signs lying on the ground (Start, Brake!, Stop!, Finish, Fuel etc.), a lot of empty wine bottles on wet straw bales and there were tyre-tracks everywhere! My business partner Jonathan walked over grinning and with a high-five said “Next year we’re doing a hill-climb and we’ll double the size of the after-party!”…and walked off. Without a moments doubt the Second Mile was apparently already in motion.

The first Mile was a race where no one took it too seriously and everyone could race anything with two wheels, no one knew what to expect when they arrived at Kefington Hall, a 17th century manor house in the South of London. It didn’t matter what you rode, what you wore, what size, what speed, the age of you or the bike. If you wanted to turn up and race something custom, classic or special – we’d created a unique little race-track just for you and an after-party to celebrate not winning anything! We were a little worried the feeling might change in the second year, but apparently not.

With ‘The (Second) Mile’, we wanted to create a series of new races that were not just based on speed, more a balance of the best race to race and to watch. Summersaulting a monkey bike over a railway sleeper and slamming your crotch into the hoop of fire in ‘The Roughs Course’ was definitely as much fun to do as it was watching it.

The 1/4 mile ‘hill climb slalom’ proved a great success, the dust flew, motorcycles went sideways and we were delighted that we managed to convince Hedon Helmets to join us this year and host the first days race – after only seeing a small demonstration using coffee-cups on the bar at the BikeShed – they were convinced.

This year we also introduced the ‘MotoTP’, inspired by the MotoGP this 20ft Teepee housed a fantastic exhibition of moto-photography ‘The Ton Up Boys’ by celebrated photographer Merry Michau. In the centre of our ’shrine to motorcycles’ a beautifully restored Indian board-track racer, that had been lovingly and meticulously restored a few days earlier by Nick Pearce.

The final race of the day was the 1/8 mile sprint. Frequent but short downpours had thrown the possibility of all non dirt-bikes, being unsuitable to run (which would not have been a popular decision). The ever fearless Calum of deBolex Engineering kindly tested the track multiple times on various tyres and conditions seemed to be great. The chalky/dry soils of Kefington are terrible for farming, but perfect for racing!

The first race of ‘The Mile’ saw the Classics compete and the second race was just for the Customs. This year we had 150 motorcycles racing over the day, so a simple race structure was implemented; if you took 1st in all 3 races in the Hill Climb, The Classics Heat or in the Customs Heat you were automatically entered into the final and last race of the day ‘The Derby’ – an unpredictable knockout heat of pure adrenaline, noise and luck. You could be paired with a bike twice or half your engine size, you never know until the numbers are drawn. 50 motorcycles started, after only 5 rounds – we were left with 2 riders. The scrappy and exceptionally quick 70’s XT with Ollie Reimann riding launched into action for the final time, from the view of the starting flag it was near impossible to see who was wining, but a triumphant fist was lifted as the XT screamed across the finish line, wonderful.

The small exhibition of custom and classic motorcycles attracted some extremely interesting machinery; unique racing sidecar rigs, drag bikes, scramblers, brand new customs and historic rarities. The beauty of creating a space for likeminded moto-fanatics is that no one knows exactly what will happen, what will be on display and those surprise elements really make the weekend. The grounds slowly filled with motorcycles and then trucks and then infamous sports-cars, like GT40’s were some of the highlights of The Paddock.

True to our word, we doubled the size of the after-party and with the help of Deus Ex Machina and the UK launch of Deus Records with our old friend Justin Miller (and Co.) the dance floor was packed until 5am. A night of brilliant music and great cocktails from our good friends at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery.

Yet again the BikeShed did an amazing job in helping to spread the word, we’ll be doing our best to increase the capacity of the race slightly next year, so everyone who came and made it what it was, can at least bring a friend.

The 3rd Mile will be back at Kefington Hall on the 1st of July 2017, please mark your calendars. For those that were there and for those that will hopefully join us next year, here’s the official Malle Mile film, from our film partners ’Shuffle’, a huge thanks to them for their stella work. Lastly a huge thanks to the entire Malle team for bringing it altogether yet again.

What to expect next year? There’s been talk at Malle HQ of a Moto-Film-Festival on the opening night (Friday), 2 full days of inappropriate moto racing, possibly a TT track, a lot more food, more motorcycles, more sunshine and did someone mention ‘Moto-Polo’?