Wednesday, 30 May 2012

IBA UK Brit Butt Rally 2012 – A Rookies Perspective

Friday – The Arrival

If the truth be known, I had absolutely no intensions what so ever of entering the dreaded 36 hour Brit Butt Rally, non-whatsoever. So why the hell did I find myself riding along the bloody M62 50 mph lunch time rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon on my way to the hotel from which the rally would start. I was already sweating my chobs off, wondering if I should  or should not have lowered my new Givi Airflow Screen to the lower setting before such a big ride. Like the IBA say “Do not make any major changes to your bike just before a big ride”. Whoop’s mistake number one and I’d not even arrived at the hotel let alone booked in!

I remember Ron saying way back when, “Go on get yourself registered and we can ride round together”  I think that was before Christmas. So after a couple of days milling it over I signed up about a month later, no rush this year as there would be no entry draw. In previous years there has always been a big fuss made of the greatly anticipated “Christmas Eve Entry Draw”. After which the successful entrants  would receiving the “Best Christmas present ever” the email informing them that they had been draw and were in that year’s Brit Butt Rally Entrants (BBR). This year (and maybe last year, I can’t remember that far back) there was a major change in application policy. This was introduced in an attempt to welcome a wider range of new riders to the event, “Rookies” as we’re affectionately known, yours truly being one of them.

An hour or so later I pulled into the hotel car park just after one o’clock. I was surprised to see just how many people already there, “Was I late?” Last year I’d helped out  as a member of the Rally Staff  completing the odometer readings and mileage checks. I remember it being well after 3.00pm before the majority of riders arrived, not so this year. The car park was awash with bikes and riders, the atmosphere was “electric”, bit of a well used cliché but it fits the bill perfectly so tough, I’m going to use it all the same.

And so the the Riders gathered.

One thing that struck me immediately was just how many new bikes and riders  I didn’t know, It was fantastic. All the usual suspects were all there , Chris the Rally Master, Phil the IBA President both welcomed me as I parked up, but just seeing so many folks that I’d never met before really was a joy. Deb’s and Steve were the next to pop over and welcome me along I also spotted Kevin and Lyn along with a whole host of other well-known IBA members. The first thing I did, once I’d finished saying my hello’s was to go into reception and check into my room, picking up my room key-card in the process. That done,  it was back off outside to continue with my steady stroll around the car park to take in all the fantastic bikes and meet a few new faces.

Just as I stepped outside I bumped into Pete West the ex-president of the IBA. This was both a surprise and a pleasure, as I’d not seen Pete for a good few months. It gave us the chance to having a good catch up chat about what we had both been up to recently. “This is going to be a great weekend” I thought to myself just as Bob came over to say hello and ask me where Roland was, “He’ll be along just after three” I replied informatively having spoken to Ron only hours earlier. (Now in order to clear up a possible point of confusion, Ron’s real name is Roland which is what 99% of people call him, however when you’ve called your best mate Ron for over 20 years it’s just impossible to change! I hope this explanation helps a  little).

There were a fair amount of bikes in the car park a lot of which I had never seen before so off I went to investigate. Obviously the one that stood out a mile to me was a beautiful black Yamaha R6, with Rizoma grips and bar ends the same as I have fitted to “Trinity”. Stubby Pazzo levers, a great Akrapovic end can (if my memory serves me right) and some other very nice subtle touches that made it scream out at me “Take me home Raymondo, take me home  now!”

There was a cracking Ducati Monster S4R, which I have only just discovered belongs to Symor who was taking part in the BBR 2012 in an attempt to raise £3,000 for the Help for Hero’s Appeal. As of This morning (Wednesday the 30 of May) Seymor had raised £2,500 which is an amazing feet. I take my cap of to you Seymor and have donated already. If you wnt to help Seymor reach his taget please make a donation to .

As well as the two sexy sports bikes there were what I would class as the sensible option bikes which included  Yamaha FJR1300’s, BMW GSA’s, two Honda Goldwing’s belonging to Wing-glider and Paddy, Suzuki V-Stom’s, Suzuki  SV650, BMW RT1200’s plus a KTM 990 Adventurer. You name it there was at least one there, if not two. Michaels’ glorious Harley Davidson, resplendent with twin Garmin 660 Sat Nav’s, auxiliary fuel tank, radio, and a few gadgets that I’ve no idea what they did, just sat there gleaming in the sun.

The selection of bikes was Phenomenal!

Then the undisputed BBR Champion of 4 years running, Robert arrived and parked his BMW GSA1150 behind Mr T. Like all the serious riders Roberts bike is decked out in a wide selection of extras, ranging from twin sat nav’s & leg guards, to a fur covered seat. The bike ccomes with a huge fuel tank but is also fitted with an equally large augzilary tank on replacing the pillion seat completely. This gives Robert sufficient fuel to travel around the entire UK coast on just a couple of fuel stops, amazing stuff. There was even a  2x3 clear plastic container, complete with lid, velcro’d to the front wind deflector with some sort of sweets inside (my guess would be, Kendal Mint Cake).I can tell you these riders meant business which brings me right back to my first thoughts. At that moment I would rather have still been on the Rally Team than a rider. The reson being I know myself better than enyone.

My refusal to become a serious “competitor” rather than a happy riding participant comes from just one fact that most people will be blissfully unaware of. I am ultra-competitive, frighteningly so in fact. Therfore I do not want this side of my personality to come into my long distance riding in any way shape or form as I know it will spoil my riding, for me. That is why I have never been near a race track. I have a few personal rules and one big rule is:- “Either do it 100% or stay the f-k away”.  So with this in mind I was determined to have an enjoyable weekends riding. Something I can tell you right now I achieved 100% give or take a few low moments, more of which to follow. (Well you didn’t think I was going to right a “Happy Report” now did you?)

The Registration Process

So after a good hour spent chatting, glegging and taking photo’s mainly in the car park I started the very thorough process of “Registration”, deep joy!

First off, I needed to read and sign to say I was taking part in the rally of your own free will and blah, blah, blah, (no disrespect intended here but needless to say the documentation is very thorough and too long to repeat).

 “Print and sign here” Done!

Next Bike Inspection. Tyres tread depth measured, check. Lights, indicators, break lights, check. Horn, check. Big petrol tank, push, poke, prod, draw lines in the dust, check!

Lastly. “You need to ride the odometer check route. Ride out of the car park, back onto the motorway, ride to X round about and come back here to have odometer read. Make sure the odometer is read by the rally staff at the barrier on the way out and way back in, is that clear?” “Yes, I did that job last year Rick”, “So you did Ray, I thought I knew you from somewhere”.

Riding back towards home knowing Jeannie, Lilie Rose and Ben were going to be worrying about me for the whole weekend, I was very tempted to carry straight on all the way home . However common sense prevailed and I continued the sedate 50 mph ride to the roundabout and back. The ride didn’t prove too testing and once back at the barrier the final reading was taken and that was my registration complete. “I was officially in my very first Brit Butt Rally, Yee Ha”

A little later I unpacked my panniers and took my bags up to the room. Setting my laptop  up with my Garmin 660 with a note pad at the ready. Now this year, for the first time ever in the UK the bonus locations were being issued to riders on a dongle which we had to hand in to Chris whilst filling in the paperwork. Oh! that reminds me, how could I forget getting our 1.2 meter piece of string measured.  

“It’s too short, come back when it’s long enough, I cannot sign you in until your string is the right length” were Chris’s stern words.

“Ron, the bloody sting’s too bloody short”

“No it’s not, it’s 1 meter long exactly, what’s he talking about”

“We need 1.2 meters or he won’t sign us in”

Ron gave me another 1 meter length of string. So with my knotted string and another knot tied in it at the 1.2 meter point I was signed in as a Rider. “I wonder what this bloody bit of string is for?” went through my head as I headed back to the car park. The things you do to take part in the BBR astound me at times.

Everyone went through the same process and by 6.30 all 38 riders were booked in and waiting for our pasta evening meal. 7.30pm came and we were all ushered into the restaurant for our evening meal of pasta cooked in various ways. The fact Kevin went and bought a Mac D Burger meal is by the buy, I enjoyed my first two helpings of Carbonnara, the third helping was a little over cooked and stodgy making me gip. Still “you’ve got to get your money’s worth” that’s what I say.Whilst we were eating, the second contingency of the “Irish Wedding Party” which the receptionist had informed us all about, arrived. Full of beans (or was that beer?) they were rather boisterous to say the least and it was only just gone 7.00pm

Rally Book, Route Planning and the “Waltzing Matilda’s”

Straight after dinner it was back into the Rally HQ (conference room really but Rally HQ sounds far more official) were we all took a seat, well at least those that got there quick enough that is.  We were each issued with our Rally Number. This year it came in the shape of a shopping bag containing that vital missing piece of the puzzle the “Rally Bonus Book” plus a couple of stickers for good measure. Oh and a high fibre bar which went down great guns for breakfast with my second and final sachet of coffee (stop Raymondo, not yet, not yet!)

The book of Dreams

By the time we had all recieved our books, Robert was pulling out of the car park off to do his thing,  I listened to a few questions before heading upstairs to have a look where all the bonus locations where dotted around the UK and surprise, surprise there two in France and one on the Isle of Wight.

My mobile rang a good 20 minutes later,

“What are you up to?”

“Just looking at the bonus locations and renaming them, shall I come up”

“Yes I’m in ........”

Now so as not to spoil the excitement for any future riders I’ll just say  we did really well and didn’t have a single heated exchange. We both plumbed in all the location names, notes and changed the symbols on our own laptops. It was obvious to me that anyone who wanted to acquire a decent score must go to France to be in with a chance as there  was a great “Combo Bonus” to be had for the cost of a tunnel crossing. Ron was not a happy man at this point but realised I was right in choosing two “combo’s” (a combo is a combinations of locations that once visited gave extra bonus points on top of the location points) and so were well worth the extra effort of visiting them.

With the two “combos” I’d decided we needed to do, Ron plotted a route being careful to  pick up the compulsory 2000 points location and quite a few other locations on the way. We also added both of our homes in order to be able to collect of our passports. Mine from Rochdale and Ron’s from the outer London area. Finally we both got onto the internet on our iphone’s as the hotel internet threw me off then wanted £2.95 for 24 hours access. I would not mind but I’d only been logged on 2 minutes.  The price of the chunnel crossing jumped from £11 each way to £25 in a matter of seconds. Try as I might I could not get booked on. We headed down in the lift with me furiously tapping away at the iphone, no chance.

“Ron lend me your phone, I can’t get a bloody connection buy a chunnel ticket”

“I’ll do it” and good to his word Ron booked my chunnel crossing on his mobile, I paid mind.

That done it was a quick chat with the Rally Staff and back off upstairs to collect my laptop and the all-important route written on the back of a small piece of paper. Then off down to my room to get some sleep. Well that’s what I thought was going to happen. In my dreams that was.

Now that's what I call a plan

Please empty your minds, now imagine looking down onto a well light car park, with 40 plus motorbikes around the edge except for the hotel entrance.

Now place three men, in a line the two outer men facing each other holding onto the guy in the middles fleece. The man in the middle in turn is holding the other two at arm’s length. There free arm is flailing at each other, trying to miss the man in the middle.

The two outside men are singing to each other in a screaming Irish accent. The song goes something like this, best set to “Straus” for the maximum effect…..

You want some of me”

“F-ing come on then, you hit me first”

“You want some of me”

“F-ing come on then, you hit me first”

“You want some of me”

“F-ing come on then, you hit me first”

“You want some of me”

“F-ing come on then, you hit me first”

 With a chorus of

 “Now calm down lads, come, calm down”

“Now calm down lads, come, calm down”

 Followed by, yes you guessed it…. more of the same

 “You want some of me”

“F-ing come on then, you hit me first”

“You want some of me”

“F-ing come on then, you hit me first”

Now after 25 minutes of this I was sick to the back teeth. It was 2.45 am when they started and by 3.10. I was dizzy, so God only knows how they were feeling, sick no doubt. If only I had videoed the whole waltz it would have been a runaway YouTube success.

I was told in the morning there had been a couple of arrests and someone carted off in an ambulance and the wedding was not happing until that afternoon. Thank the Lord I would be miles away by then, safe in the knowledge that the “Waltzing Matilda’s” would never be heard of again! So having slept a total of 65 minutes my alarm went off at 4.30………. what a great start to 36 hours in the saddle, NOT!


Day One of the IBA UK BBR

I was outside at 5.15am and to my surprise so were halfthe other riders and there were already a number of bikes lined up ready for the start. I added mine to the queue and waited for one of the Rally team to come along and do their thing. Orders had been given yesterday to  “Stand by your bikes for 5.30am for final odometer reading”. This was done as simple as that, read, documented and then the long wait for the 6.00am start began.

The excitement just built up and built up as more and more of the riders came out to get in line. John started his 1969 Triumph trident T150  up around 5.45 It sounded really well for such an old bike and I just hoped it had woken the “Waltzing Matilda’s” from last night. Robert arrived back and duly parked at the very front, mainly due to the fact there was no were else to park as the exit road was now full to bursting. I put on my jacket and helmet, opened my bar bag and went to plug  my iPod in. “Shit, it’s gone” I tipped out all the chocolate bars, visor cleaner and cloth, ear plug container, and afew other bit but no my 45th birthday present from Jeannie had gone.

John's Amazing 1969 Triumph trident T150 

“Some f-kers nicked my iPod, mate” I told Ron

“You’re kidding, you sure?”

“I’m telling you it’s f-ing gone, my own stupid fault for forgetting to take the f-ing thing out last night”

“Jeannie will go nut’s, it’s even engraved on the back”

With that I went bake to my bike and sat quitly, pissed off does not even come close I could have cried. I’d had itnearly 5 years. 

At exactly 6.00am we were all waved off at sensible intervals to go do our thing. Phil shook each and every one of us by the hand as we passed him. The Brit Butt Rally was on. I rode slowly along the M60 to give  Ron time to catch me up as he was well back in the queue. Once we were together we rode over to our first bonus location with about 10 other riders all heading the same way. This would be the first and last time we would see so many riders in the same place at the same time until we arrived back at the hotel on Sunday afternoon.

No 1 - Bonus 19

Our first stop was number Bonus number 19 just outside of Bradford, it was rather busy and my picture ended up with two rally flags in it. Tapping in our next stop number 28 we rode off  toward Todmorden to photograph the school sign. Now the ride over the tops was fantastic as this is my local riding area, riding over the tops from Howarth to the back of Hebden Bridge were the sat nav would send riders 5 miles out of their way. So within an hour and a half we had two locations bagged and missed another near Hebden Bridge which was the Dibbles Bridge. Still we had a plan, we had a route and we were sticking to it. “Plan the route, Ride the route, simples!”.

No 2 - Bonus 28

We arrived at mine in order for me to pick up my passport and for Ron to  put some air in his front tyre and give his bike a quick once over as it had cut out twice over at junctions as we rode over the tops. I didn’t think anything about it at the time as we finished the coffee’s which Jeannie had made for us. We said our goodbyes again and headed off into Manchester to pick up bonus number 4. Sir Mat Busby in front of Manchester United’s Football ground. I was buzzing three down and quite a few more to go.”It can’t all be this simple can it?”I thought to myself getting onto the M60 heading towards Liverpool.

No 3 - Bonus 4

Riding down through Wales to the Brecon Beacons National Park for the Main Land TT bonus number 47, was wonderful. Also knowing that combining number 47 with bonus numbers 19 and 62 would give us our very first additional 1000 bonus points made it even better. “I’m liking Rally malarkey already”

Wales has some of the country’s most twisty country lanes I have ever ridden., with the bike was running like clockwork and the sun shining through the trees I thought we were in paradise. We mad good time through the country lanes and all the way down the amazing B4358. That is until we came to the end of one particular lane and the sat nav said straight on. However the farmer had a red and white sign saying “Please do not follow sat nav’ as they are wrong” nailed to the left hand gate post.

Tough it says straight ahead that’s where we’re going straight ahead. Ron followed me down past the farm along the as the single track which abruptly stopped the side of an 18 foot wide “ford” I took one look and thought.

“Come on Mr T there’s still a bit of tread left on those Conti Trail Attacks yet” and drove straight through without issue. It was only about 8 inches deep so what was the sign in aid of? Again Ron rode behind me once I’ got too the other side safely. No sweat I thought and carried on along the lane.

"Ford" number two

“Ford” number two appeared all too soon some 100 meters further along the track. This time it looked a little faster flowing in parts but hey I’d ridden through one what’s another. I set off stood on the pegs, first 3 foot into the stream flet the same as before and was quite easily. Then without warning, “Shit” my bike plunged 2 foot straight down, I dropped off the pegs and was immediately soaked to just below my crotch. My Gortex boots filled immediately with the cold water as I  concentrated on keeping the bike upright by paddling either side. Gunning the motor where appropriate and backing off as soon as the back end started stepping out. I was having a ball, all be it totally sodden to the bone but still it was brilliant. It took a good long 5 minutes to make it across the 18 foot wide “ford” to the other side but out I popped and laughed to myself.

“Come on Ron, I shouted”  as I pulled up the  steep lane on the other side.

I can just remember seeing Ron entering the water and starting to tip over in my rear view mirror. I got to the top of the short track and started turning round in an attempt to head back down the other track so I could be out of the way when Ron rode across but still see what was happening. A local lady who was working in her garden asked if she could help point me in the right direction. I popped my lid up and said “thanks’ but we’re OK, we’re just collection photo bonuses”. Pulling back down to the river side I saw Ron, stationary in the water up to his engine, which on a BMW GSA is fairly high.

I grabbed my camera and took the picture,

“Put that camera away” he shouted at me

“I’m coming in” was my reply and a immediately waded back across the “ford”, I was soaked already so it made no difference my boot were already full to the brim with water. I pushed Ron’s top box and kept shouting

“Gun it, go on gun it”

Ron having fun on his BMW 1200GSA

It took us a good 10 minutes struggling against the water and the slippery rocks but it really a lot longer. By the time Ron had gunned the bike out of the other side we were both wet through. Noyt just from the “stream but also we we’re soaked with sweat. I just cracked up. Ron was not so chuffed!

We took a breather and Ron sparked up. “That was bloody hard work but  loved it” I thought to myself. I was having an absolute blast. I dropped Rally HQ a text.

After a decent break we headed left and up over the tops to take our pictures first of bonus number 47 then 10 minutes later of number 62. Things were all going so well until we approached Llandrindod Wells  and Ron’s oil light started to flash. I saw him back off on a totally open stretch of road with no traffic on what so ever. I’d been thinking of pulling over to check what time we needed to text HQ to get our 750 Bonus points.

No 4 - Bonus 47

No 5 - Bonus 62

Ron pulled up at the side of me looking rather worried. The oil light was flashing really quickly and I knew Ron was not happy. Switching the motor of he told me the text needed to be sent between 3 and 5pm it was still only mid-morning so we were well ahead of our planned route timings.

Starting the bike again and the light went off, we set off but within a few miles I saw Ron fading from my rear view mirror. We pressed on but stopped again. The oil light was flashing but now refused to go out. Ron called the BMW Garage he uses in London.

The reply was not what we both wanted to hear.

“Switch your engine off and don’t start the bike again. Get yourself recovered”

“It’s an oil pressure problem that can do serious damage to the motor”

Things were not looking good. We stood there in the siding for a while then Ron suggested we head into Abergavenny to get some oil and see if the bike would be a little better.  I could feel the ride slipping away from us both but I was more concerned about Ron and his bike.

“So what do you think, should we call it a day?”

£Not yet, lets get the oil and see if that sorts the problem”

And with that we carried on all be it at a very steady pace. Luckily 2 or 3 miles down the road there was a petrol station. Ron bought the oil and put it in to the motor. Starting the engine proved us both wrong, the light continued.

“That’s it mate, game over for me” Ron said, absolutely gutted.

“I’ll sack it to then Big Lad”

“No way, you crack on, I’m not having both of us sack it no chance!”

“What you OK with me carrying on then?”
“Damn right, your riding for both of us now”

I was gob smacked, I just didn’t know what to say. That had been the last thing on my mind, just leaving him to sort the bike out on his own. I felt like shit!

“I don’t feel right just leaving you here, you don’t even know where we are”

“Naaaa I’ll be right, I’ll give the bike half an hour and take it steady back to London, if it sorts itself out I’ll meet you in Dover and we can carry on”.

I agreed but still feeling lower than a snakes belly I reluctantly rode off after a a big hug (manly mined) and left my best mate stranded in a petrol station in some small village on the edge of Abergavenny. My mood began to sink fast as I carried on alone. Not my best day at all. I pulled over and called Jeannie to tell her about Ron and she told me how much lilie Rose and Ben were missing me. I felt even worse when I came off the phone than I did when I went on.

No 6 - Bonus 12

I found the Market Hall sign in the middle of Abergavenny, parked on the pavement and took my picture of bonus 12. A middle aged couple walked past and the old man was just bout to say something to me about the bike being on the pavement. That was until I turned around and he saw my face. It was like thunder, I was so pissed off. He made the right choice and carried on walking muttering to his wife just out of ear shot.

I tapped in Bristol city centre for the mirror ball a massive 2000 points and one of the three compulsory locations. Bonus 54 here I come! I gave myself a good talking to on the way over. My mood was just two shades lighter than pitch black by the time I arrived slap bang in the middle of Bristol at 2.56pm on a Saturday afternoon.

No 7 - Bonus 40

Stop, engine off, flag wrapped around camera in chest pocket out and laid over seat. Right glove off, picture taken, flag wrapped back around camera and back in pocket. Top box open, mileage and time written in on pre- opened page. Turn to blank pages between bonus page 6 and 7. Tapped in location 54 open book to page 54 replaced in top box. Shut, checked, glove on, swig of water from camel, tw bit big chocolate bar in mouth in a oner (Steady!) start bike. Off! This was my routine at every single check point I visited from here on in, time taken 3 minutes on the dot.

In what felt like quick fire succession I visited  the Star Inn bonus 54 at Pucklechurch, 750  Point Bonus text sent to HQ and reply received. Next I was off to RAF High Wycombe bonus 50, Peter Cushing View bonus 3 at Whitstable some where I’ve passed a hundred times and never been then on to the Radar Mast at Dunkirk bonus 2, then finally Dover Castle bonus 29. I was buzzing again. Nothing was going to get me down. I checked my mobile. Ron had text, twice, shit!

No 8 - Bonus 54

No 9 - Bonus 50

No 10 - Bonus 3

No 11 - Bonus 2

No 12 - Bonus 29

Unfortunately after a good half hour break the light went out only to come back on and stay on a very short ride later. Ron was back home now his bike and kit were in the garage and the Brit Butt Rally was officially over after a very short reprise. HQ had been informed and that was it he was out. I felt so fed up about all the work Ron had done only to have the whole thing fall apart so easily. He’d even lost £50 on tunnel tickets, what a sickener.

Now the next stage was to pop over to France and collect the two bonus locations. I was booked on the chunnel (Channel Tunnel) at 1120 it was 7.24. I had not received my booking confirmation email so it was a quick text to Ron to ask if he could forward me his confirmation. He couldn’t as it was in email form. Shit, now what! I headed to the terminal all the same only to find I could use the card I had booked with. I rode through the terminal straight onto the 8.20 train leaving in 8 minutes. Result!

I wasted no time in taping down the plastic cover that had taken to “Clacking” like a loli pop stick stuck in a push bike wheel, you remember when you were a kid. Sticking the stick to your spokes the listening to it “clack” as you rode along. Imagine that for 3 hours but ten times louder well that was the result of me lowering my screen to is lowest setting. It had snapped on plastic fixing and bent the other two. I got a good 5 minutes chill out time before I was up and off in search of Le Paradise War Cemetery bonus 48. Arriving in the pitch black outside the church I took my picture at double quick time and was off before the neighbours came looking.

No 13 - Bonus 48

No 14 - Bonus 48

The Memorial Battle of Dunkerque decided to be 75 yards further on and not on the right where the sat nav said it was. The car park I turned around in was about 4 inch deep in sand which made things interesting. I ask an old guy cycling along the foot path if he spoke English “no” came the answer. I still asked if he knew where this was lighting up the bonus book page with one of Dave’s great little touches. “Ah wee wee, misue it’s there” speaking English and pointing at a massive great slab of rock with a 8 foot tall wall on it. Bloody hell Raymondo you’re getting tired not to see that bloody thing. I had to take a few pictures as it was pitch black and the flag kept blowing away.

Pictures in the bag it was back to the chunnel terminal it was 10.47pm UK time and 11.47pm French time I was well ahead of our original schedule. Brilliant now get me the feck out of France. Sat at the terminal at midnight French time I was on the train about 25 minutes later. Sat down, emptied the water out of my boots and had a sleep. Bliss.


The Home Stretch

I pulled over at the petrol station at the chunnel exit and text HQ to gain my 1500 bonus points for letting them know I was Ok and whee I was between 1.00am and Now this was a bit of a trick in my book because if you were on your sleep bonus at that time (as you could start sleep bonus between 11.00pm and 6.00am) you could lose not only the 10,000 sleep bonus but would only get the 15,00 point text bonus, clever, I like it!

Filling up I went into my inside pocket and to my utter surprise I felt my beloved iPod tucked behind my plastic bag. Brilliant I could not wait to let Jeannie know I’d found it. How glad was I that I’d not kicked off at the start point when I could not find it anywhere.

Whilst asleep on the train I’d decided to pick up the last south easterly bonus number 16 a memorial to the crew of HMS Irene a mine layer in WW1 she blew up killing 352 and leaving only 1 survivor, not a lot of people know that (give or take 38 in the BBR plus rally staff!).

No 15 - Bonus 16

“Excuse me could you tell me is that the memorial to HMS Irene over there” I asked the female taxi driver parked directly across the road from the memorial and facing it, after having looked at the front and found it dedicated to WW1 and WW2 war veterans.

“Don’t arsk me laaaaaaaaaaaaarve, I don’t know abart starf like tharrrrrt” she replied in the broadest London accent I have ever heard away from the TV.

“OK thank you” and I went back over. On closer inspection the names appeared down the left hand column so I took my picture and was away within 5 minutes. Bonus 16 in the bag and it was only 2.12am. Time to head north as I had no intensions of going into London without Ron. My plan was to up the M11 north of the M25 so as not to have that to deal with in the morning. As it happened the sat nav took me off over toward Colchester on the A12. Another road I’ve never been on.

Now the fumbling with the last picture told me it was time to stop and get some sleep, after all I’d been on the road 21 hours. I pulled into a well know road side motel. I took Bob’s advice and got some fuel, 3.65 litres at 3.33am to be precise. The petrol station attendant gave me a strange look as he gave me my receipt.

“Do you have a room free at all. I’m  doing a photographic rally and I need to get my sleep 3 hours compulsory sleep stop” I said to the young chap on reception.

“Sorry, were fully booked, I’m full to the rafters”

“Really, bloody hell, do you have a loo I could use please”

“Sorry I’m not allowed to let you use this one as its in reception area!”

“Do you mind if I guts have a sit on the sofa over there I’ll not bother anyone” taking into account it was gone 3.30 am on a Sunday morning.

“I’m not supposed to but go on then, get your head down for a bit but do you have any ID”

I showed him my passport.

“That’s Ok go on get your head down, but don’t tell anyone or I’ll get sacked!”

“No I won’t, that’s fantastic, I’ll only be 3 hours tops”

And with that I took my jacket, boots and head over off”

“Here you go, do you want a coffee?” Steve said as he passed me a pillow.

Two sips of the hot coffee and Steve was waking me up with another one at 6.15am with a fresh mug of coffee.

“Can I use your loo?”

“Yes, no problem, go through there”

What an absolute star Steve was, I’d fallen asleep so fast he’d only realised when I’d not answered him back as I was fast asleep. I was so pleased I dug a couple of Yamaha pens, key ring, neck tube and my IBA badge out of my top box and took them back in. Steve was well chuffed. Steve you will go far making great decisions like you did. I really appreciate all the risk you took allowing me to sleep on the couch. (I know he’ll read this on day as I wrote my blog address on the back of the sticker) Top Man Thank You.

Pulling back over to the petrol pump and filling up by putting another 6.77 litres in at 06.43 got me my compulsory 10,000 point sleep bonus. 

So plan of attack, visit the final 4 bonus locations, First off it was Mr Manwaring bonus number 55 where you had to be sat at the side of him on the bench. Pulling out of the services I tagged along with three very nice Ducati’s all of whom looked at me and sped off only to be rather surprised to se me sat 100 foot behind them some 25 miles later as they peeled off Snetterton race track. Steve arrived just as I was trying to sort the timer button on my camera, I just fell over laughing, it was 7.55am and there was another rally rider. Steve took my picture and I took his. Job done I was off to Banhan Church near Norwich bonus number 8.

No 16 - Bonus 55

No 17 - Bonus 8

No 18 - Bonus 52

Next came Stoke Mill bonus number 52 and then I was off again to my final destination on our route the Dambusters Inn at Scampton in Lincolnshire. Now just to round off with an interesting detour the sat nav decided in its ultimate wisdom to send me heading straight into the “Wash” or to those un familiar with the area the sea. I was taken down so many back streets, tacks and country lanes including some great off road stuff. I must say as I was riding down, Chris’s words were going through my head. “If you’re riding off road you are going wrong as there is no off roading at all in this rally”. I was going wrong, stopping to have a look over the grass bank in front of me all I could see was the Sea! The friendly couple walking their dog along the bank told me the pub was “20 odd miles that way”. It turned out to be 56 miles that way!

No 19 - Bonus 15

Other than a closed A15 the ride to the Dambusters Inn was rather uneventful and by 11.36am I was finished. However the rally check in time started at 3.00pm so after taking the all-important picture with the bike in it under the sign I rang Ron to tell him “Job done!” He still sounded really fed up but was pleased I’d done what we set out to do.

Steve arrive whilst I was talking to Ron, I passed on his regards, said my farewells to Ron and started to look through the book.

“Where you off to next Steve, it’s a bit early to go back we still have 5 hours”.

“I’m thinking of going to somewhere called Tibshelf to the Oilwell Nursery”

“Do you fancy going over together, I know where it is”

“Yes can do, do you want to lead as you know the area

With that we headed over the 30 odd miles to Tibshelf, I had a ball on all the back lanes because this is where I grew up and learned to ride a bike some 32 years ago. Within 2 hours we were at bonus 27 at 1.15pm It is literally 200 yards up the road from where I learned to become a chef at 14 at the Shoulder of Mutton, Hardstoft.

No 20 - bonus 27

“Now what?” I asked Steve

“Do you fancy a bacon butty a Claycross Kawasaki”

“How far is it?”

“10 minutes that way”

“Sounds good to me”

What a blinder, they were having a BBQ outside so we both got a half pounder with cheese and tucked in. I even gave my dad a call to see if he wanted to pop down but he was busy in the garden.

What a great way to round off a brilliant weekend
A Half Pound Cheese Burger with Onions

Setting off back around an hour later I pulled over and asked Steve to carry on without me as I wanted to  go and pay my respects to my Mum who is buried in Temple Normaton Cemetery just up the road from where we had pulled over. It was nice to finish off such a great ride with a chat with my Mum. I thanked her for taking good care of me and said my farewells.

Final Check in and Results Time

Arriving back at the hotel there were a few riders back already, John’s Triumph was there along with Steve’s Suzuki. Deb’s was doing her paperwork in reception, John came down having had a shower and got changed, ready to fill in the dreaded Rally Book.

I sat there for about an hour laboriously filling in the book, Petrol Log, Check. Compulsory Sleep Bonus, Check. Photograph Log…………………….Check! after 45 minutes cross referencing the locations I had visited, time, and odometer reading and transferring all that information to the log page.

I went through and Leigh sorted did all the necessary checks. It took about 15 minutes and that was that until after evening meal of Sunday Dinner. I was joined by the journalist from Bike Magazine who competed this year. Sounded like he had enjoyed his rid even if he did look a little tiered. Deb's and Steve let me use their room to shower and change in. I really stank from the river water.

One word - Yuk!

After dinner we all returned to the Rally HQ and Phil starting at position 35 as there had been three riders DNF (Did not finish) sadly Ron was one of them, plus an alternator problem and one puncture. Nowhere near as horrific as last year when the weather was so awful a greater number of riders withdrew on safety grounds. Common censes rules always.

So that was that, Robert gained his 5th Consecutive first place, Dave Winters came in second and Gerhard came in third and we all received a certificate with mileage, points and position on. I had no intensions of competing competitively because I feel that is not what my ridding is about however I must admit I did get a little tingle in my stomach whilst waiting for the results to read out. More so I’m already looking at things I will do next year because after one ride around the UK,  I’m hooked and I know a few more riders are too.

Did I mention I finsihed 6th and was
"Top Placed Rookie"

All I can say about the Brit Butt Rally is it was a fantastic weekends riding and all be it a little upsetting to lose my best mate so early on in the ride I feel I went on to prove his route planning was good enough for me. The Rally Team did a simply amazing job in organising such a successful event and should be proud of themselves. Well Done Chris, Rick and the whole team of volunteers who gave up there time to make the BBR 2012 one to remember for me especially.

Here’s a Great Big Well Done to Each and Every Person who took part, Well Done To You All.

Since Returning

To my surprise I’ve felt fine, no aches or pains, other than a sore back side (note to self, Sort that bloody seat out!)

I’ve had a newest of Michelin Anakee 2’s  fitted as the Continental Trail Attacks had 10,000 miles on them. The front looked goosed and the rear had picked up 4 nasty slashes in it, probably from the off roading I’d managed to squeeze in. But there was still a good 2mm of tread on both. I’m really pleased with the wear I’ve got out of the Continentals so the Michelins have a tough act to follow.

The screen is back on the higher mounting holes. The plastic cover has had all three plastic fittings replaced with sturdier replacements. The Garmin has had a sun guard glued to it as I cannot do with the elastic bands wrapped around everything.

I’m looking into possible replacement seat’s and I’m also looking for a map pouch to go on the tank for next year just to store the rally book in and put a listing for bonus locations visited. A tool roll to and storage tube to free up valuable space in the top-box.

"Look into my eye's"

So till the next time, take it steady.

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