Picture a quintessentially British garden party, but one that has been overrun by moustachioed men and dungaree-clad women on motorcycles.
The picnic hampers have been mashed into the ground by knobbly motocross tyres, the grass has been stained with spots of oil and the serene silence of the countryside has been replaced with the revving of two-stroke engines.
It sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? But this place exists and it’s called the Malle Mile.
“It’s very rare that you can go anywhere and just rag a bike around a field”
This year’s event, which is hosted in the stunning grounds of Kevington Hall on the outskirts of London, was arguably the biggest and most raucous ever, with more sponsors and more revellers enjoying the ride than ever before.
“It’s very rare that you can go anywhere and just rag a bike around a field without getting in to trouble or having to pay a ton of money,” explains photographer and friend of Flat-Out Rachel Billings, who pointed her Yashica FX-3 at this year’s proceedings especially for us.
“I’ve been going to the Malle Mile every year and it just gets bigger and more popular every time, with more bikes and more races. This year really felt like a festival,” she adds.
The weekend includes festival mainstays, such as live music, camping and food stalls, but more importantly features a number of unique bike races that encourage an inappropriate ‘run what you brung’ attitude and place an emphasis on true grassroots competition.
“Sometimes when events naturally grow, they lose their charm, but the Mile has kept its feet firmly planted on the ground”
A quote on the event website states, “everyone is invited to race anything on two wheels and no one is expected to win”.
“The main sprint race had two obstacles in it this year, which made it more challenging, and slightly more dangerous,” Rachel explains.
“But Malle 100 was a definite highlight for me and saw one hundred riders compete over a mile-long dirt course. It’s not nice to admit it but the crashes were spectacular – the dust explosion that kicked up when a bike went down made for epic photos,” she adds.
As well as snaring some quality shots, Rachel also entered the women’s sprint race but admits she stalled in the first session, which she says was “especially embarrassing” because her dad was watching from the crowd.
“The dust explosion that kicked up when a bike went down made for epic photos”
However, she went on to win the qualifier, so her pride was fully restored.
“Sometimes when events naturally grow, they lose their charm, but the Mile has kept its feet firmly planted on the ground,” Rachel says.
“Anyone is welcome to attend and everyone just chats to everyone, you really come away feeling like you’ve made friends,” she adds.
If you fancy getting down and dirty at next year’s event, hit this link for more information and to stay updated.