|Posted: 23 June 2009 at 1:52am | IP Logged
I have had my report sitting on my PC for weeks and, as everyone else is posting their memoiries I thought it time to post mine.
The Brit Butt Rally 2009
Rally Report by Andrew Weston
After completing a Saddlesore Rally in May 2008 it was inevitable that I would want to try something a bit more challenging. After reading all the post event chat after the 2008 event I just knew I had to have a go at the Brit Butt Rally in 2009.
The first hurdle was actually to get selected, with over 400 entries it was going to be the luck of the draw and on Christmas Eve I nervously opened my email inbox to see if there was anything there. Roger Allen’s name lit up like the Christmas tree lights and I knew it was good news, I was in. now all I hade to do was send some money off, fill in a few forms and sit tight for five months!
What to do in the meantime? For me, it ended up as very little; in fact, I hardly used the bike and definitely didn’t do much of what would be considered long distance riding. Was this a good thing or a bad thing; I was not sure but there was only one way to find out and that was to get on with the planning for the rally anyway.
Planning was light and low key, I had obtained a DIY heated liner kit from www.heat4jackets.com so fitted that. I bought the map recommended and fished out my waterproof ones just in case. I stuck some Velcro sticky pads on the back or the BBR badge and stuck it on the hi viz waistcoat, sorted out my spare clothes, nicks n socks, nibbles and drinks and also made sure the Airhawk seat on loan from my mate was fitted okay and had some air in it for my boney bum! For the unlikely chance of a puncture I picked up a little compressor for six quid and threw it in the top box, panniers loaded and fitted, it was off up to Trentham Gardens first thing Friday morning.
This was the first time I had really ridden a long way with the liners in the suit and I realised that, as long as the weather held up its end of the bargain, I was not going to need anything else in the way of protection. Got myself booked in, registered with Roger, completed the last bits of paperwork and got my odometer settings check ride completed before trying to settle down and relax before the evenings formalities started.
After the evening meal where everyone started to get to know each other, the rally team called us in to the conference room and Roger welcomed everyone, introduced the rally team and gave us his BBR ode which he had come up with en route to the hotel, very apt it was! The briefing was clear and concise so I had no reason to ask any questions. The road books and rally flags were given out and explained, I had a wry smile on my face when I realised that two of the destinations were very close to home so that my sleep break could possibly be planned in to take place in my own bed.
Briefing over, it was up to my room to mark all the locations on the map and try and work out a route. To me it was fairly obvious that a southerly route was the one for me, partly because of the weather report for the weekend and partly because I couldn’t resist my own bed! I tried to sleep but, probably like a lot of the others, had quite a restless night and rolled out of bed just after five and nervously got myself and the bike ready for the off at six.
First destination was plumbed into the sat nav although I knew where the first few were anyway. A hand shake and a good luck message from Roger and we were off, everyone had their routes in their minds, who would I see, if anyone as I travelled all round the country. Well, first stop in Brownhills had four of us taking photos, then for me it was off to Birmingham city centre, a place I know well having grown up there, so easy points for me! As I rode off a guy on a Harley pulled up, we waved at each other then I was off.
Next stop was Crowland water tower just north of Peterborough. Whilst having a break there, that Harley arrived and it was been ridden by Steve Freeman. We had a chat, realised we were doing pretty much the same route and agreed to ride together, this turned out to be a great decision as we were able to monitor each others condition, sort out direction issues and two pairs of eyes made sighting the landmarks easier.
So, off to Great Yarmouth for Fish n Chips at Harry Ramsdens in accordance with the road book, we looked a right pair sitting on a bench munching on the meager offering from the counter whilst in full bike gear, sweating as the sun was beating down on us with temperatures rising into the mid twenties. Whilst it was a nice rest stop, that place would come back to haunt me at the end of the rally.
Margate, Ramsgate and Dover were ticked off in quick succession so it was off up to central London for some big points. Having never ridden, let alone driven in central London, this was going to be an experience that, in the end, was a bit of an anti climax as it was not as bad as I expected it to be. The Blind Beggar Pub was the first stop but, OMG! the till wasn’t working so I could not get a printed receipt as requested. Thankfully as few simple requests got me the required evidence. The London Eye and Gandhi were then sorted and off to Twickenham Fire Station, I wish someone had checked the fixture list, the town was heaving due to the London 7’s tournament at the stadium!
Time to get out of there and head to the last two for the day; Guildford and Chichester, trying to explain to drunken revelers what I was up to made for an interesting time at those stops. With Steve living in Chichester and the burger van being close to me meant a simple solution for us both, sleep at home and meet up at five in the morning on Portsdown Hill.
With the sun rising behind us, the riding for the first few hours was magnificent; a quick jaunt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s grave in the New Forest then up through Hampshire, into Wiltshire riding along some of the best A roads I have ever had the pleasure of. At one point, I got off the bike and said to myself; ‘Now that’s why I ride a bike!’
Off into Wales next, going over the Severn Bridge and up to Sendherenydd just north of Caerphilly was where I eventually bumped into Robert Roalfe together with Gareth Owens. Leaving the town, the route went up what can only be described as a mountain road but what an amazing road it turned out to be, you had to really concentrate or you would be off it, something that Gareth apparently found out when he went along it. The views were spectacular but you couldn’t take them in properly unless you wanted to waste time.
Crickhowell Castle next, oh look, there’s Mr Roalfe again, leaving in front as ever! A quick hop to the signal box towards Hereford saw us take different routes, only to meet up at the location with; you guessed it, Rob Roalfe.
The trip to the Robert Owen Tomb in Newtown was both glorious and totally frustrating. Glorious in that the roads and scenery were stunning, frustrating in that there were a few ‘Sunday drivers’ that were travelling so slow they made it pretty dangerous for all other road users.
I was done, plenty of point in the bag, the only issue now was mileage as I had realised that I did not have enough so it was back up to the M6 and head north for a while until I was happy to turn around. I lost Steve in the slow traffic but knew he wanted to get a lot more than me so left him to it, got to a point I was happy with and then headed back. Got my odometer checked and listened carefully to the brief from Roger about what I had to do next. Even though I thought it was quite clear what I had to do obviously didn’t listen as hard as I should of as I would find out later.
Time to chill out clear my head and check over all of my paperwork before submitting it for verification. First the easy stuff, the petrol log, make sure all the receipts are there and match what you have written in the log book – check, 10,000 points in the bag, good start. Next, the sleep bonus, make sure the cash point receipts match the log and that more than four hours had elapsed – check, another 5,000 points, just over halfway there to the minimum of 27,500 points required.
Next up was the photo log; go through every snap and make sure it matched what is written on the page. Just as well as I had forgotten to record one on the log and so glad I had written it all in pencil, made the changes and checked it twice, all runs in order, job done. Lastly, check through the log book, make sure that every location that I had visited had been checked off properly and the two receipts required were in there; it all looked good to me so it was off to the verification room.
I handed over everything and waited patiently and nervously whilst trying to empty the water cooler as I was parched! Petrol log was spot on, as was the sleep bonus as I expected. Next was the check of the log book, all was going well until the Great Yarmouth location, Harry Ramsdens; photo, fine, till receipt fine, odometer reading fine but I had forgotten to record the time! Damn, 1,500 points lost in the blink of an eye, ah well, I’m sure I have plenty anyway. The hand written receipt from the Blind Beggar Pub passed inspection as did everything else so it was just a case of wait and see now.
I checked into my room, showered and changed and went to the bar. I thought a nice cold cider would hit the spot, what I found however, was that it hit that spot very quickly so I reverted to soft drinks to rehydrate first as I realised I had not drunk anywhere near enough during the past two days.
The rest of the field started drifting in, the waiting was another nervous time but was spent listening to and telling stories of the exploits of the past two days. A welcoming evening meal was devoured by most of us then it was into the conference room to hear the results and go through the presentations.
The first bit was the worst bit for many, reading out the ‘Did Not Finish’ list, as every name was called out, there were sighs of disappointment and the sound of mumbled ‘hard luck mate’ from around the room. My name was never called out, I don’t believe it; I’ve been classed as a finisher!
Forty nine riders left on Friday, twenty seven were classed as finishers, where had I come? I didn’t care, I had done it but how well had I done, the names started to be called out and one by one they went up to be congratulated, receive their certificate and the much valued year bar to go underneath the Brit Butt Rally patch..
Finally my name was called out, 14th with 1,151 miles and 30,337 points. Brilliant, a great sigh of relief and an immense sense of achievement and pride on my part.
However, there is always a ‘but’ in any story as I alluded to earlier. The visit to Harry Ramsdens in Great Yarmouth and the loss of 1,500 points meant that I could have actually finished 8th.
Ah well, at least I had successfully completed the rally which is considered to be the toughest rally in Europe, met a great bunch of like minded people who I now consider as very special friends due to our shared lunacy. The roads that this rally took me on will be visited again but with more time to enjoy them but I am never going to eat at Harry Ramsdens again!
Edited by Banjo on 23 June 2009 at 3:16am
IBA No 40001 (First UK Issue) SS1000, BBR09, UK Mile Eater
90 Degrees Between The Knees