|Posted: 22 June 2009 at 1:17pm | IP Logged
It’s about 8pm on Friday night. I'm at the Premier Travel Inn Trentham Gardens. Chris McGaffen the Rallymaster of the Britbutt Rally 2009 is individually handing each competitor their rally flag and a white A4 envelope while shaking each person’s hand and wishing them good luck.
I've got mine. Chris said something to me as he handed it me, I can't remember what it was, I'm that focussed on the secret contents of that envelope. A book with a list of places in.
What it should be is 69 locations dispersed throughout the whole of Great Britain along with a description of where they are and what I've got to do should I choose to visit any of them on my motorbike as a competitor in the 2009 BritButt Rally.
Chris is talking again offering some fine words of wisdom but all I can do is look at the envelope in my lap. Then I hear him say "you may open them now" and that's that.
The day had gone great so far. I'd got to the hotel just before 2pm. Checked into my room. Made sure I had all my documentation to hand. Re-checked my bike and then waited to sign on with Ironbutt UK head honcho and all-round good guy Roger Allen. He must be in a good mood. He asked me what my competitor number is and I didn't even know I needed it let alone know what it is - I guess. 21. I'm wrong. By rights he should dock me some rally points but it’s early yet so I get off lightly. After signing on and having my picture taken with my own camera I've got to get my bike checked to ensure it’s legal, good and decent.
In the car park is Mike Topham. I bumped into Mike on the Welsh Rally. Mike should be doing the BritButt. Unfortunately his bike suffered a major fault on the Welsh 2 weeks ago so this weekend he's putting his many years of bike experience as an instructor to use as technical inspector. My bike passes - it should, it was only serviced the day before at Allan Jefferies. I'd managed to get it in after the service light came on in Wales. I explained this to Mike who was more than a little miffed that Jefferies fitted me in with a couple of days notice. As a fellow Yorkshireman he had chosen the other local BMW dealer to fix his clutch and found they had a 5 week waiting list to do work. Bad luck, Mike.
Mike signs me off and points me towards someone with a clip board who is organising the odometer check. At the start and finish of the rally your odometer is read and the miles are used in the results. As there is a minimum distance that must be covered (this year 1123 miles) they need to ensure your odometer is giving you a correct reading. Barry describes a route for me to take. Out the car park turn right at the roundabout. Count 7 roundabouts and then turn round when you see a guy with a BritButt Rally flag. Sounds easy enough and it is - but I found out later that some people turned left out the car park. Not a good start. My mileage is read and I'm off. Passing other competitors coming back in the other direction reassures me I'm on the right route.
When I get back my odo is read again and then I park up in what I think is a convenient place to get away quickly at 6am in the morning.
I can now catch up with a few people. I've been watching out for Oliver Hamilton as he, like me is from Leeds. He had just got back from his odo check and was asking about fuel. There was actually a fuel stop on the odo check and I curse myself for not topping up. My 33 litres must be down to about 23 litres now. I'm sure I will be fine. But now is the time to relax - because after dinner we get the bonus book.
For those that do not know the Britbutt Rally is basically a big ride out on your motorbike. But to add an element of competitivness you decide the route. You are given a bonus book at the start that lists locations throughout the UK and you must ride to as many as these as you can. Once there you must take a picture of your ‘rally flag' to prove you were there and hand your camera in when you get back. The whole event takes place over 36 hours - and to prevent people riding non-stop you must prove you took a rest break of at least 3 hours along the way in a set time window.
The book containing the locations is only given out the night before. Everyone involved is keen to get their hands on the book and start planning their route.
I look after a Callcentre telephone system for a living. I'm used to analysing masses of data, usually numbers, in short periods of time. There are days when I hate it - but now my brain is doing Mach2 and I can feel adrenalin starting to flow. Competitor number 20 is out of the blocks and running.
I'm out of the presentation room as soon as I'm told I can leave with the precious bonus book. Straight to the cold drink dispenser. 2 bottles of ice cold diet coke and I'm heading for my bedroom.
Inside my room are two, yes two, maps of Great Britain blutak’d to the wall. That way I can see the whole country without having to turn it over.
I've got marker pens and a pack of sticky coloured dots. I've got a laptop with Autoroute on it and my Satnav is ready to do battle with my fat thumbs.
I've got marker pens and a pack of sticky coloured dots. I've got a laptop with Autoroute on it and my Satnav is ready to do battle with my fat thumbs.
2 weeks earlier I'd done the Welsh National Rally and tested myself by programming all the check points into my computer and coming up with a platinum route in less than 90 minutes. This time it would be a bit harder but basically the same job.
First add all the bonus locations to a physical map. Then assess the map and work out a brief route. Then use Autoroute to see if the mileage is right.
First problem. I've never done this kind of distance before so how much should I plan. I figure on a route for the 1st day up to midnight - its 1200 miles!!! No problem, it’s a loop so I can just cut it short once I've got going, can't I?
To cut a long story short by half past midnight I have two routes and a place to sleep in between them programmed into my sat nav. I've got a piece of paper with my route written down. I've got everything packed and my kit ready for the morning.
Time to sleep. I can't sleep. But I do sleep eventually. I wake at 4.45am. Earlier than planned.
I've never done the Britbutt Rally before. I've done the national rallies with friends - but find they slow me down so I was up for a challenge when I stumbled upon the Britbutt. This year, its second year, was meant to have 65 entrants. Unfortunately along the way 10 people dropped out. Then at the last minute it lost another 6 meaning we would only have 49 starters. I have a chunk of flapjack and I attach my luggage to my bike ready for the off. God knows what all the other guests at the hotel make of 49 bikes firing up at 5.30am. Imagine if it were more!!!
I then find that my convenient parking space means I am almost at the back of the queue out of the car park. Since Roger is letting us out of the place about 15 seconds apart I find I have quite a wait.
Finally I'm away. I'm jigging about to the MP3 player on my Garmin Zumo blissfully ignorant of the fact that I've put the wrong bonus point in it as my first destination. Traffic is light and I'm concerned that I can't see any riders either in front of me or behind me. I'm heading for Wolverhamton and a statue of a man on a horse. As my satnav instructs me to take the M6 Toll road I twig that something is wrong and ask the sat-nav what the hell it thinks it’s doing - a quick reprogram later and I'm back on track and soon at the statue but it’s easy to make such basic and drastic errors.
Rally Lessons Number 1, 2 and 3.
I've seen the statue – it’s on a round-about. I take the left turn and then wonder where the hell to park. I've driven down 30 yards of Dual carriage way and pull off the road. I ride a BMW GS Adventure – It’s the first time it’s been off road! On to a muddy bank. Now the first lesson I already know - I've had my stand fitted with a full-time stand pukk. This means I can park it on soft ground and not worry. The rest of my lessons I learn the hard way. I get off to take my picture and learn lesson number 2. I find there are 74 other images on my camera - mainly of meerkats and big cats at Chester zoo.
I will have to delete these one by one as I now have 2 pictures on the card that I need. So lesson number 2 is start the rally with a fresh card or simply format the card as you sign on. Lesson number 3. I'm 30 yards up the dual carriage way. I could walk the bike back down the road but what traffic there is is flowing fast in my direction like the roundabout isn't there and I could cause a major smash here. So I set off down the road - about a mile, through 4 sets of lights, turn round, back a mile and I'm now where I should be.
So the lesson is as soon as you see the bonus, STOP, go no further, assess where you can park without forcing you off in the wrong direction afterwards. So my next bonus is a cast iron statue in the centre of Birmingham.
Rally Master Chris McGaffen said he would put a few of these city centre bonus' in this year and I later found that people did not like trying to get into Birmingham while it was busy. At before 7am on Saturday it was great. However I've never driven into Birmingham before so went steady while my Sat-Nav maps caught up with what I was passing. I pulled up on the pavement, took my pic and drove off - so that was a simple stop. As was the Boulton statue round the corner. I wonder if driving on the pavement would have been so easy when it was busy?
Next stop was an enormous silver statue of a miner at Brownhills. And this is where I remembered to work out where to park before pulling up properly. Mind you I learned another 2 lessons.
Lesson 4 - how do you take a picture of yourself and a landmark and your flag? It’s not as easy as just holding the camera as you tend to block the landmark. I had bought a Joby Gorrillapod with me. It’s an articulated micro-tripod for the camera. Only problem is I had never used it and I wasted several minutes getting the picture of me. So the lesson is - practice taking pictures of yourself using a timer and a tripod. The hard part is making sure you can work out if you'll be in the shot or not. You don't need a tripod as I could have rested it on a bin but that was about 10 minutes in total doing something I should have known how to do already.
Lesson 5. When you switch your sat nav back on you may find it doesn't quite know which direction it’s pointing. So when you’re sat in a pedestrian refuge looking at a picture on screen of a map and it says "turn right" you may like me go off in the wrong direction and, yes, once again find that turning around is not so easy now you’ve entered a one way system. The solution is to always program the next two destinations in. One as the destination and one as the 'via' point. That way when you get to the bonus point you'll know which way to head after that. Once on your way just change it while you’re on the move to the next stop after again.
So now I'm on my way to Holmfirth to take up residence with Nora Batty! I'm riding along the A38 at an acceptable pace but my sat-nav is 'bonging' every 4 seconds and after about 2 miles it’s beginning to do for me. The problem with sat nav camera databases is that there are several types of cameras that it’s going to warn you about. The one that was annoying me was the 'mobile' camera locations. Nav-Teq, who compile this data simply put the entire A38 as one long mobile camera zone. If I can find a way to remove these 'mobile' zones I'll be much happier.
Anyway I get to Holmfirth in what seems like no time at all. The cafe I need to take a picture of inside doesn't open until 10am and its 9.20! So I use the time to fill up with fuel and text my nearest and dearest. I decide to go back to the cafe and get the outside shot at least while I'm waiting. As I'm doing this the next door neighbour appears and asks me what I'm doing. As I have the time on my hands I decide to tell her all about the rally and what I'm doing and the fact that others will be on my tail. Bless her! She disappears inside saying "I'll go get Nora for you then". She then re- appears with a 5 foot tall standee of Nora Batty and puts it outside the cafe door for my picture. Brilliant!
Anyway, I then have to wait for the cafe to open and learn another small lesson. I have to take a picture inside and it’s rude to just walk into a business premises take pictures and walk out. Technically you could find yourself talking to the law who could confiscate your camera. But I have not had breakfast yet and this means I can kill 2 birds with one stone. What I should have said was "can I have a slice of carrot cake to go". Instead I ordered a pot of tea and a toasted cheese and mushroom sandwich. I should have ordered toast - it would have been quicker!
But as it happened she opened 10 minutes early and by 10 past 10 I was back on the bike with an entire pot of hot tea in me. Lovely. 20 minutes of that time was just sat on the pavement. Not so lovely.
So off I head to Tan Hill Inn and I'm in the part of the country I know best - my own back garden, almost literally. As I ride up the M1 past Leeds I can just see the end of my street. Tan Hill Inn is in the middle of nowhere. Literally. It’s the highest Inn in England and it has no services. God knows how it survives for business through the winter. The tracked Snow-Mobile parked in the car park suggests it can be bad around here. But even though I know a short cut right through Leeds, Pateley Bridge and Hawes I know the fastest route there is up the M1/A1 and A66 so I may as well rack up the miles and make that mileage minimum. A quick picture but a lesson learned all the same.
Lesson 6. Sheep like to sleep on warm tarmac roads. Especially young lambs. When you’re out on the moors just remember that you are riding on someone's bed. In Wales 2 weeks previously on the way up to a reservoir at 10pm on a deserted single track road I crested a summit on the road to find about 50 sheep laid down in the road. Utterly mad. And again today despite telling myself to watch out my eagerness got the better of me and I nearly had lamb on the menu rushing to get back to the A66.
From Tan Hill Inn my next stop was Kirkstone Pass Inn. It may not be the highest but the views from it are the best in the country. While it was a quick stop I was still delayed and learned another lesson. Lesson 7. If you tell the general public you are in a race and can they hold your flag while you take a picture of it, and the sign (or whatever it is), they will generally seize the chance to help a stranger.
Instead I stood there waiting for a man to finish taking endless pictures of what appeared to be his new Thai bride also in front of the Inn sign. But it doesn't take too long and I am soon on my way to Hardknott pass - one of my favorite places in the country.
I would be interested to know what my bike would do with a pillion on the back. Would it tip backwards? Do a wheelie? It’s a one in three gradiant road literally up the side of a mountain with views to match. Here I had to take two pictures and one of those had a description of a specific road sign somewhere on the roadsign. When I passed the road sign I didn’t stop as I knew that I would have to come back the same way. Also, I wasn’t sure that it was the right sign so I continued just in case it wasn't and there were more. Now this is where Mr Chris McGaffen's co-ordinates for the bonus were out of line and despite finding the cattle grid at the top that I needed to take a pic of I continued until my sat-nav said 'destination'. Oh well - at least I got to ride both sides of Hardknott pass and when I went back to the cattle grid I did my Rally buddies a favour. Not having anything to hold my flag down with and it blowing what seemed like a force 9 gale I used my hands and feet and dug a large rock out of the peat moor. Now I could have slung it after I had used it to hold my flag down on the gate post but I left it there for others to use - and I later found out that at least 2 people did.
Back down to the road sign I saw before and got that pic too.
The holiday weekend traffic was starting to build now and my journey from here to the Pencil Museum at Keswick took what felt like an age. I dashed in, paid my entry fee, got my pic and left.
Then I spent about 15 mins in the car park talking to another rider, eating flapjack, checking my bike and checking my route on a map. I was basically fathing about and should have realised the signs. I was beginning to realise I was not only hungry but de- hydrated (despite the tea). So as my next stop was Glasgow Transport Museum I would stop on the way for some sugary drink.
Lesson number 8. I should have packed sugary drink. I didn't waste too much time before setting off again but I had stopped and what with all the other time wasting that day I soon worked out that making the museum before it shut was not going to happen. So having already stopped on the motorway I pulled over again for fuel at the next stop, a sandwich and a 10 minute rest included. Not only was I going to miss the museum by 30 minutes I was going to miss Bothwell Castle too. This really annoyed me. But I stuck to my plan and headed off for Darvel.
This was a quick stop and I did an about-turn back to the M74 in pouring rain and headed for Cappercleuch. The road there runs from Moffat to Selkirk and is riding heaven if you like it twisty.
I got my picture of an old AA box and changed my visor. It was cloudy and it had been pouring down since I fuelled up but had now stopped. My tinted visor was going to be a problem so I changed it now.
My next stop was Wooler Bridge and from Cappercleuch it was one of the best rides I had ever had. Coming into Wooler you can see Hadrians wall coming down the Northumberland moors – it’s quite a view. At Wooler Bridge a police van hesitated at my bike as I took my picture but he didn't stop to perform a strip search so I lost no time. It reminded me then that that was the first time I had seen a Police vehicle all day. I'd done about 650 miles and the sun was beginning to set across the Northumberland national park.
Next stop was a sort of u-turn back round to Rochester war memorial. It was again an awesome ride on deserted roads but I almost came to grief when the maps on my sat- nav gave me no warning of the road doing a 90 degree right over a hump back bridge and then back along the other side of a stream that the road followed. When my senses calmed down I backed off a bit and reminded myself I was getting tired. I assessed the rest of the day’s journey at Rochester and concluded that I could just about do it. At Rochester I felt niggled at the Rallymaster's instructions. The instruction was to place your flag INSIDE the stone hut and take a picture of it. This effectively meant that I had to cover up the names of dead heroes as the only place to do that was to drape it over the monument itself. Next year I will modify my flag with a bulldog clip and some string. Lest we forget.
Off to Darlington I went - to find a brick train and it took longer to get there then I thought – thanks to Garmins obsession with dual carriageways. It was hard to find…in the dark. It might have been floodlit but…I was tired, very tired and affected badly by fatigue.
I could have taken more time to get my photo but I could argue that photoshop would show a brick train in the back ground if you played about with the exposure, contrast and hue for half an hour! I didn’t really care at that point but I fuelled up at Morrisons self serve and took a 10 minute break to aid my fatigue.
I’d packed some protein bars to beat the afternoon nap my body wanted – but I should have packed some energy bars too. I’ll call that lesson number 9 – I actually had them on my list. I couldn’t eat any more flapjack – but needed the energy. I forced it down and nearly spewed.
The ride from Darlington to Middlesborough was hell. I was still feeling the effect of fatigue. But I had decided I was just safe enough to get to my sleep stop. I was on roads I knew well and could relax a little and take my time. Having said that as I came to the other side of Middlesborough on the road to Whitby I passed a TravelInn and was very tempted to simply pull over and check if they had a room. In hind sight I should have.
After a leisurely ride to Whitby I pulled up at the Captain Cook monument. I’ve seen it many times during my life but never taken a picture of it and it was now that I found a problem. It was half past midnight. The instruction had been well thought out. A picture of me, my flag and the ‘whole’ statue. Nice one. Captain cook is about 25 feet in the air. So although my lesson of using a tripod would be useful, the problem was that with a camera 40 feet away the flash produced simply showed a black photo with my tiny flag in the middle of it.
After 20 minutes fiddling and hoping that a stranger might pass and help me at this hour I finally worked out that switching the flash off and standing VERY still would work – It did and the result is a very pretty picture at night.
With relief and my two photos (another of the whalebones) in my camera I now set off for Garrowby Hill and an old AA box. As I said before these are roads I know but I soon spotted that Garmin was going to take me all the way to York and back out again to get to my destination but I ignored this as I know an awesome road that goes from Malton to the east side of Stamford Bridge – so off I set. Ignoring Garmin who was adamant that she was right and demanded I stop and turn round for mile after mile. Eventually she relented and decided that she would obey me.
At Garrowby Hill I found that again my night time photography skills were lacking. With the phone box next to a row of houses and me taking 8 pictures before getting one that you could see everything I wondered if the people in the houses had called the police yet. Every time my camera flashed it lit up the village!!!
That was my final bonus point for the day and I was ready for some sleep. I set off back the easy route ignoring my local knowledge and following the road to York stopping first in Stamford Bridge after having a panic attack about checking I had everything zipped up before getting to my sleep stop. I followed Mrs Garmin all the way to Leeds and an all night garage – filled up with fuel, got my receipt at 1.45am and headed for my sleep stop – my own cosy bed. This proved fatal to my overall score and to this day I am convinced cost me at least a 4th place.
Why? Well I was meant to get up at 5.45am.
But when I woke…my clock said…7.49am!
At least the night before I had grabbed a quick shower before dozing off and although I had had a good rest I welcomed fresh clothes too. I had a headache though and I couldn’t shake it.
At this point I had racked up 860 miles and was confidant of making the minimum miles. Because of tiredness I had not checked my points but later discovered I had already made the points too.
However my sleep-in had destroyed the day’s plans – and my splitting headache made it hard to concentrate on route planning. I had planned on taking a line from Sc**thorpe down to Lincoln, Peterborough and Chelmsford before getting three stops in London and then back via Wiltshire, and a handful of low point stops.
What actually happened was me hitting the first 3 bonus’ and then making a bad decision about which next. I headed from my house to Sc**thorpe and got stuck behind some sports bike riders who were going too slow for my liking but every time I tried to pass them they speeded up. I’ve seen this before and it makes me mad. Ordinarily I would have shown them who’s road this was but today I needed to lose a battle in order to win the war.
I had foolishly not prepared anything at home so I set off without any fluids or extra food. So I stopped at a service station wasting more time to stock up on liquid and popular glucose confectionary that promises to help you work, rest and play. I left the service station and was soon looking at a water tower that was nothing like the picture in the bonus book. Each page of the book actually shows you the bonus as well as its description and without double checking I knew it was either an error or a trick.
So I took my picture of my bike and headed off to Lincoln and Torksey Lock. At Torksey Lock the instruction was to take a picture of a box-hedge clipped in the name “TORKSEY LOCK” from the other side of the lock itself. Several pictures I have since seen were not taken from the other side – and since the other side is private land I can understand why. However I managed a picture from the other side of the lock by asking the lock keeper if I could walk across and the precariously balance out as far as I could on his jetty which was to one side.
My Picture shows my flag – but since my camera had no zoom and the hedge was now quite some distance away there was some debate during scoring as to whether I had complied with the instructions as my number was not easily read. Anyway, in the end Chris was very understanding and gave me the points so I can’t complain.
Next stop was another water tower. I followed Mrs Garmin’s advice and then found I could see the tower but was nowhere near close to it – the problem was the road was closed because of road works. There was no diversion sign but I was not going to give in. I soon worked out a way round the blockage, got to the water tower, got my picture, broke out some water and pain killers and took a 5 minute break.
I was now beginning to realise I was short of time. My next stop would be Chelmsford. A trip down the A1 and then east. I set off but was already preparing myself for a diversion. Do I bin Chelmsford and get extra time to take in the 3 big pay offs in London. After computing it in my mind I reprogrammed my Zumo and continued my merry way down the A1 and thence to London.
It was busy and I stopped for fuel in Barnet knowing that it would be enough to get me back to Stoke whatever the outcome, so it was best to do it now and then not worry. But from here on into London it was clear that whatever the ETA my Zumo told me I was never going to make it. The weather was glorious and it was a bank holiday weekend. The roads were full of people sight- seeing or just having a drive. I decided to ask the sat- nav the killer question. How long for me to get to the biggest bonus in London, Ghandi’s statue in Tavistock Square, and then back to Trentham Gardens?
It said it would be an ETA of 4.49pm – way too close to risk it.
I had to be back by 5pm. I looked at the wall of traffic in front of me and the sign telling me I was 7 miles from London City. I cursed and did a bloody great U-turn in the road across the oncoming traffic. Before we set off Roger Allen told us a funny little anecdote about rain and rides not going to plan. For the first time in the whole rally I was screaming Roger’s little mantra inside my helmet “F*CK OFF, F*CK OFF, F*CK OFF”.
I was fuming at missing the London bonus points. Fuming at sleeping in. Fuming at binning the Chelmsford points for the London points – and there was now no chance of me getting back to Chelmsford either. My 2 hour sleep in had cost me more than dearly. Because Oxford had never really been on my plan it clean missed my mind that I could have picked that one on my way back – but instead I pulled off on the M1 services and tucked into a good sandwich and some juice. It niggled me that I had masses of time to get back to Stoke but not enough to get into London and out again.
Oh well. Pending mechanical failure I would be home and dry. I was still not certain I had made the points’ minimum but the mileage minimum was done. With the pressure off I pointed the BMW at the motorway and let Mrs Garmin do the map reading. I got back at 4.40pm.
There were plenty of people back already but still a few to go. Someone read my odometer, signed me in and pointed me at Roger to take my final picture. I exchanged a few nods with the riders I saw and headed for a chair.
Mike was there keen to see how I had got on. It felt good to actually have a conversation with someone. All I had to do now was sort out my paperwork. I’d not done this before but was happy that I had followed the paperwork rules. It helped that I’d written everything down as I’d done it, numbering my receipts. A fuel log and sleep log would count as 15,000 of the 27,500 points I needed to finish. At the scoring the only error I picked up was the serf- serve receipt in Darlington. It had the address of the service station on it but not the actual town name. If I had written down just the first line of the address on the log I’d be home and dry – but the technicality cost me 100 points and as I could hear people around me arguing about thousands of points dropped I felt I’d got off lightly.
I didn’t even add up my score before I handed everything in. That’s how tired I was. I really wanted to finish – but no longer had the capacity to work with data and find a resolution.
At the presentation that evening I was relieved that my name had not been read out at the beginning as one of the brave few who had tried and failed. I really felt for my fellow ‘Loiner’, Olly Hamilton who had only recently failed an attempt at a Saddlesore ride by 3 miles!
Today he had got the points but came up 14 miles short on the mileage. Everyone in the room extended their sympathy. As the results were read out I was expecting to come 27th out of 27 finishers.
But, somehow I had managed 15th. I felt great about that and found the energy to have a pint in the bar afterwards. Of course I still curse the sleep-in and also the time wasting on the Saturday.
If I’d got Chelmsford and London I think I’d have finished 4th. If I’d got Glasgow and Bothwell the day before I’d have got 3rd.
It’s no use wondering what would have been. To finish first, first you must finish and plenty of good riders had scored DNF’s because of silly things they could say ‘what if..’ about. Likewise everyone on the ride was alive and well. I’d passed two bad smashes that day.
I had started the day saying ‘never again’, I finished the day saying ‘bring on 2010’. I’ve learned lots of lessons and share some of them here. Not all of them of course, as I’d like to stay competitive for next years rally.
But by far the greatest lesson when taking part in a timed event is time itself. Don’t waste any of it. Plan every stop and also what you can do on each stop to minimise the next stop. I stopped twice at service stations just to buy water and on both occasions this was soon after or just before I filled up with fuel anyway. That’s just stupid.
I also attempted the ride with no idea of what my daily riding limit was. Potentially that is dangerous and I’d suggest that any rider doing this should know what their limit is. Best I’d done up to this was 680 miles.
My bike was just great but others had problems. Know your bike – even the simple stuff can be a problem. I fitted a Gel pad to my bike seat just for the rally. I removed it after 300 miles as it didn’t work for me. Practice.
Can you sleep on a grass verge? If you plan to then you need to practice it. And practicing stuff goes for other things too. I planned right from the start to be in my own bed by. I’d worked out that regardless of where the bonus locations were my route would be two loops. One from Stoke, north and back to Leeds and my bed - then the next day down south and then back north to Stoke. That worked well but that ultimately cost time – I could have dossed down very near that water tower in Sc**thorpe and saved a great deal of time. But I’ve never done anything like that and while you can learn how to use a camera along the way planning a sleep stop takes a bit more preparation.
Next year I’ll be ready.
Edited by DukeOfHunslet on 23 June 2009 at 5:13am