A Travellerspoint blog

Welsh National Rally 2011

My rally weekend started on Friday. I packed my stuff and then had l lunch with Claire, at home, before setting out on the run up to the Youth Hostel in Coalport, near Ironbridge in Shropshire.

The weather was hot and I was wearing my new cordura trousers for the first time. I had removed the quilted lining for both comfort and to avoid death by over heating. The run up was pretty straightforward with the satnav deciding on the M1/M6 route.

As it turned out this was a bad idea as apart from the road works plaguing the M25, the M1 was dug up from Luton Airport to past the Bedford junction, with two lanes chocked full of trucks. Whatever happened to the railway for heavy loads.

I stopped for a break and a coffee at the Watford Gap services before continuing. Petrol seemed to be lasting okay and it was only at Birmingham did I need the first top up. Managing just over 204 miles for 16.5 litres. A tip here. If you are on the M6, avoid the services and their high prices. Take the A34 signed to Birmingham and there's a cheap Shell station about 200 yards from the junction.

I arrived at the YH hostel about 5.30pm and was just checking where to book in when I saw Steve Hazlehurst arriving. We had a four bed room and staked our claim to the bottom bunks. Sadly we had to share with a cyclist, but it wasn't too much hardship.

Dinner was in the Shakespeare Inn down the road. Good food and a few beers,

We were up early and off to the start. All very easy and the weather was looking good. The plan was to enter for a Platinum Award. To qualify we had to visit 15 unmanned (and answer clues) and 3 manned checkpoints. Plus we signed up for the Dragon Award that was based on airfields, and having to visit four and answer clues. At the start we met up with our third team member, Andrew Pratt.

Our circuit was roughly a counter clockwise tour of North Wales and it seemed this year that there were far more checkpoints down "blind" routes that required a back track than in previous years. In fact there were four, usually just the one, plus these all add miles that in the end are wasted.

In hindsight the tour d'Anglesey was probably a mistake, it was too slow going and cost us a lot of time that we really needed later in the day. That said there is some very attractive scenery up there, and some nice little bays with beaches and sea views.

The trip took us over both the bridges across the Menai, under the towering majesty of Snowdon and down some tiny little tracks suitable for 4x4 and sheep.

Time was getting on and we were looking to make our goal when we arrived to find the bridge we were hoping to cross had closed! It's a toll bridge and had closed an hour before we arrived. A quick re think of the routes and a re-jig of the plans had us running out of light rather than time. We ended up looking for a clue in total darkness, and then abandoned the hunt. We had qualified for a Gold Award and also the Dragon.

It started to rain by the time we left Castle Caerinion and it was in torrential rain that I made my way back on unlit single track roads to Shrewsbury and the A5, then the M54 and M6 to arrive at the hotel I had booked in Coventry.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. In the end the Formule 1 seems like a cross between a bail hostel, workers doss house and a brothel. I have stayed in the chain across France and whilst they are cheap, they are usually 100% better than this dump.

After a lot of not sleeping I was off home at about 8am, finally arriving about 1pm after some stops for coffee to keep awake.

In the end this is probably my last WNR for a few years and it was fun, good to meet up with two friends and ride the excellent scenery.

Photos can be seen linked --------------------------------->

Posted by InvictaMoto 04:59 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

Ride of Respect 2011

The numbers had dropped considerably since last year with just three of us on the run from the Kent Centre and Graham Reynolds already there as a marshal. In the end Ian had to drop out so it was just my brother and me at the Oakdene with about 25 KAMG members on a run to Shoreham.

“Where you off to?” asked one. “Wootton Bassett” says I. “What’s there?” he replies.. I explain and still he has no idea what we are doing.

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Our run along the M26/M25/M3 to the pit stop at Sainsbury’s in Bracknell goes off well and we make good time. The M4 is relatively calm with the occasional car driving nutter right up your arse when in the fast lane at more than the legal limit. But what the heck, we are above these idiots.

On arrive at Hullavington the first person we spot waving his arms like a windmill is Graham. I stop to have a word and a pat on the back.

Then we show our bike passes and join the runway wide group. We are about halfway along as we come to a stop and it’s 1105. This year is better organised as the bikes are in blocks of around a 1000 bikes with a big gap. As the riders depart on their run, the blocks edge forward about 150 yards.

At 1315 we are off. Not quite the 1100-1200 slot but they had had some incidents (their words) on earlier runs.

Our run went off without incident. I managed to get stuck behind some bloke with a Czech SOC hi-viz and a Triumph Tiger. Try as I might I couldn’t get alongside to see who it was but the occasional glimpse in his right mirror looked like Les Bensley’s moustache! Somewhere in my SOC archive (actually a box in the garage!) I have the original artwork for that style of logo!!

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. A trio of fat blokes on Triumph Rocket-Threes seemed to have problems with balance and/or clutch control and we had to slip past as their barges blocked the road on any one degree incline.

The ride through WB was very poignant and even had an old git like me with a tear. The people thanking us for our being there. Being thanked by someone wearing a t-shirt showing the face and name of a relative killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan seems the wrong way round somehow.

Once clear of the hand slapping and waving we joined the M4 eastwards for the sprint to Membury to make a lunch and loo stop. Here were reunited with one of the Triumph barges making a turn that would put an oil tanker to shame!

From then on we went with the flow to top up again in Bracknell for the last bit of the way home.

I arrived home in time to watch WSB race two from Donington and eat the pork pie that had escaped at Membury.

A superb day and a chance for us to give something back.

See some of the pix from the day on the Flickr group I set up after the event - http://www.flickr.com/groups/woottonbassett2011/

And not only that, my picture (above!!!)_ taken on 17th March when the wristbands and bike tags arrived has been purloined into someone's Blogspot Blog. Might have been nice to get a credit.

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:53 Archived in England Comments (0)

Afghan Heroes Run

Up early to get up to Stop 24 to meet Ian Gardner. As we had plenty of time I had a bacon sandwich and a coffee. At the Oakdene we met another group from the SOC Kent Centre.

Then it was zoom to Bracknell for the first refuel and then onto the airfield to book in. It was all a bit haphazard and pretty disorganised and we lined up and they never even looked at my registration card just whipped a fiver off me and said that the special wristbands had run out. How to get one now? The organisers are working on a way to get those that missed out on the special wristbands.

We were put on the back of a huge line of bikes. One half of the group went round the left side of the runway and we were on the right.

As we inched forward it seemed that it didn't matter how long you had been waiting, the riders on the left seemed to leave non-stop. This was evidenced as one of the Oakdene team, Brian Squibb, was home at 1645 or so about the same time that we got to Swindon on the way home!

In the end it was worth it to say that we had been there on this run. "I WAS THERE!"

Sometime in the future everyone you meet will claim "I was there on the first Afghan Heroes Bike Run".

We will nod and simply smile because WE WERE.

Even after all the waiting and messing about. What made it worthwhile were the people of the villages, Malmesbury and Wootton Bassett that came out to wave and cheer us past!

Would I go again if they do it next year? Of course. Bring it on.

Loads of pics courtesy of Nedine Blackman O'Brien's photo gallery website - http://feraphotography.co.uk/Wootton_Bassett.html#220

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More photos!

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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