Once upon a time there was an unforgettable character in the Vintage Car Club, called Syd Falconer. When his family asked what he wanted for his 70th birthday he said “nothing” “I’m going on a moped run”. Then he got his mates to run one for him. On the first run there were 6 or 7 bikes (I think).
This started Syd’s Moped Run. It grew and it grew.
One day Rosie Halligan from CCC came into my office at the Council and said there was a man out the front and he wouldn’t go away as he said he knew me and wanted to talk. I asked what was his name. “He said his name is Mr Syd” was the reply.
I went out and there was Syd Falconer, and Mrs Falconer. Syd, always unrepentant about causing a fuss, and Mrs Falconer looking like she wanted to be anywhere but where she was right then, announced he wanted me to go on his moped run. I protested that I didn’t have a moped. “I’ll get you one” he replied.
I accepted on the grounds I didn’t stand out in the crowd. I wanted to ride a bike which wasn’t registered or warranted was my request; which was duly honoured. I went on several runs and they are the most enormous fun.
A moped, for those of you who are wondering, is a 2-stroke motor scooter, of 50cc up to 125cc. They were the vehicle which was used by workers to get to work cheaply, and by students to get to school and tertiary studies. They now have an almost cult following throughout parts of the world. Especially in Japan where they are an art form.
Syd died, aged 85, 10 years ago. His run continues. The running of the event has been taken over by Aaron Card who does a superb job. Even if he did have a massive heart attack after last year’s event!
This year there were 306 bikes of all types on the run. It all starts with the organiser announcing, as Syd did every year, that due to Health and Safety and Traffic Management rules the event is cancelled. The everybody follows each other on an informal ride.
People came from everywhere as well as Christchurch. They came from Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth, Timaru, Wanaka, Queenstown and Dunedin.
I stood with my mate Paul Cameron at the top of Evans Pass as the bikes came over the Pass. This wasn’t a bunch of fast-moving super bikes terrifying the world. Over the top of the Pass came a stack of tiny, mostly slow, little bee-like 2-strokes with every person on top of them with a smile on their faces. The traffic was slowed down by the sheer number of bikes parked higgledy piggleldy everywhere. They all smiled as well. At least it seemed like a smile….
One guy in a truck stopped and asked me what it was all about. When I told him, he said “this is bloody fantastic, I think I’ll get one and come next year!” That’s why it’s growing. It’s about celebrating Syd’s birthday, having fun and doing something irrelevant.
The run concluded at Smash Palace, having visited many parts of Christchurch and surrounding environs.
The closing ceremony is always the same. Syd used to bludge his way around the City during the year collecting prizes for attendees on his run. They were thrown, by Syd, from the back of his trailer completely without ceremony. Syd decided what the prizes were for and there was no chance of questioning why you received the award. It just flew through the air and you caught it. I was awarded the” biggest wanker on the run” award, which sort of summarises the tone of the prizegiving. As you watch the video below, produced by our own Aaron Campbell who goes on the run, you will see the ceremony is much the same, maybe slightly more sophisticated.
We all sing Happy Birthday to Syd, who always wore a suit and tie when he rode. There is a best dressed award judged by Keith Falconer, Syd’s son, who gave it to the guy who turned up in a suit and tie.
These sorts of events are what makes a City. They are harmless and fun. People stand on the side of the road and laugh at the silly types who buzz past them. People who attend come from all parts of our society and the common bond is silly little scooters and having fun.
Thanks Aaron and team for a wonderful day’s entertainment.
Here’s the terrific video which Aaron Campbell put together recording the run. Syd’s Run 2020 – YouTube.