It’s wet; I mean it’s very, very wet. The black cloud I had been following since leaving Goole had finally decided to hang around and wait and as I rode into it things got biblical, soil and gravel decided to move from the surrounding farm land into the middle of the single track road, water bubbled up from drains and my visor took on the waterfall effect, inside and out. It was the sort of weather that reminds you just why you ride a GS. With my wife Kathryn on the pillion, fully loaded Metal Mule panniers and a large tent stuck on the back, Bertha just soaks it all up, I think the Wilbers shocks were a worthwhile investment as potholes and broken surfaces pass almost undetected. 65,000 miles on the standard BMW shock absorbers had recently led to a noticeable deterioration in handling in general and these have provided a very definite improvement.
I’d been checking my mirrors regularly for the last few miles and with no sign of John on his Kawumph ( Kawasaki W650 ) or his wife Christine on her Guzzi I spin Bertha round and retrace my route, a mile or so back I come across the pair having a small domestic in a farm entrance. Well I guess you couldn’t blame them. Christine had picked up her new Moto Guzzi Breva 1100 from Loughborough that very morning and the clock was now showing just over 120 miles,
the gorgeous black and chrome bike had taken on a red mud hue and the thought of riding on the gravel strewn roads followed by a muddy rally site entrance and a further ride through a rutted field on her new pride and joy was bringing thoughts of a return to sunny Rotherham to the front of Christine’s mind. I used my best persuasive chat, you know the thing,
“Hey, it’s only a couple more miles now” followed by
“Well you knew it would get dirty sometime” led onto
“Do you really want to ride all the way back home in this, by yourself! ‘
I set off with the pair following and slowed down the pace, only to be past a few miles later by Buckles on his R1200 Adv, the bald rear TKC tyre covering me in a plume of spray as he sailed by.
We stop a few miles later and wait at a road junction, Buck lifts his visor,
“It’s aquaplaning a bit!” he shouts, I take another look at his back tyre, I’m not surprised.
A few miles later and we are at the entrance to the new rally site for the 12th Motorcycle Action Group ‘Into the Valley’ rally situated just north of Beverley at South Dalton. The entrance was muddy as expected but the well organised marshals slowed down our approach, apparently in the few minutes prior to our arrival a number of bikes had used a touch too much front brake with obvious consequences.
Tickets are exchanged for wrist bands and I lead off up through the rows of traders marquees towards the top camp site, thinking that if the weather stays like this high ground would be the logical place to camp. With no sign of the Wheeler brothers or their entourage I make a call.
“You’re where? In the very bottom corner of the first field! By the drainage ditch!! “
I turn Bertha round and follow the rutted path for about 500 yards until I spot three 1150 GSA’s lined up together with Baggy’s R1150R.
The rain’s starts to abate as the tents go up so I guess it’s time to start getting wet on the inside. Pete (Laughing Gas) has had the presence of mind to bring a tarp which forms our bar for the early evening.
Terry Scholes wanders over to join us, I hold the guy in awe, I first met him when I sold him a bike (K75 basic, low seat, if memory serves me right) in the early 90’s, when I worked at Rainbow M/C.
Here he is in his late 70’s still riding regularly, camping and partying with the rest of us. I’d be happy to be doing the same at 50!!
A few hours of Hobgoblin Ale and the obligatory bottle of Port and we decide to move on up to the marquees, real ale is on tap so for me it’s a few more pints of Theakstons OP and a chance to catch up with old friends before retiring, leaving Buckles and a few others to explore the music tent.
The next morning dawns dry and sunny and after breakfast, Buckles, Baggy, Kathryn and myself opt to join the ‘Riders are Voters’ demo ride from Beverley through Hull to the Humber Bridge.
I ask Tickhill Chris (Black R1150GSA) if he’s joining us on the ride, he says he’ll pass on this one as he’s only just woken up from a night spent asleep under his bike.
“I just got the munchies and decided to get some food out of my panniers, last thing I remember was putting the lid back on! “ he explains.
It’s 10am and as we ride off the rally site the rest of the crew are just pulling their first ring pull of the day.
From the Riverside Cafe in Beverley, after checking out bikes and canal boats, the ride out leaves at 11.30am. Led by a well organised team of MAG marshal’s we join the front of the ride and head into Hull. Mmm, nice, makes me realise how cosmopolitan Rotherham is!! It’s first gear work most of the way through the town centre, passersby stop and wave and motorist sound their horns, people shout to their friends in shops who come running out to watch us ride through. I still get a bit of a buzz from that feeling of rebellion you get from being part of a big motorcycle motorcade that brings the centre of a town to a standstill. We ride surrounded by race reps, scooters, streetfighters, custom Harleys, big trailies and L plated machines, people in full race leathers, some wearing club colours, others in day glow bibs. After an hour we find ourselves at the Humber Bridge car park where the ‘Riders are Voters’ organisation has arranged for candidates from the leading political parties to outline their views on motorcycling and take part in a short question and answer session.
We park up intending to stay a while but all too soon Buck’s stomach starts chanting “food”, my brain joins in with a chant for “alcohol” and the thought of Baggy being picked out to be interviewed by one of the television crews present fills us all with a fear that motorcycling may suffer an immediate ban. We decide to mount up and leave before the speeches start.
Calling at Morrison’s in Beverley, we stock up on beer and food before trying to find our way back to the rally site. After a quick tour of Beverley’s town centre, for the second time in fifteen minutes we line up three abreast at a set of traffic lights. I think a right turn makes sense, Buckles fancies straight ahead and Baggy wants to turn left. We look at each other and start giggling; Buck spots a map in my tank bag
“You’re the one with the fu**ing map “he shouts over
“I ain’t got my glasses on though “I reply.
Kathryn leans over my shoulder to try and read the map and offer directions just as the lights turn to green, we grab the hole shot and head straight over the junction, luckily followed by the other two bikes. Were still lost but being male we take the option of carrying on regardless and after a few miles we pick up the Driffield road and eventually get back on track.
Back on the site, the Wheeler boy’s are starting to show signs of a long day at the bar. While I open a bottle Buckles and Baggy unpack the panniers and lay out a new table cloth, napkins and a nice bottle of rose, two small stoves produce a full dinner with steak pies being steamed over seasonal vegetables.
The rest of the evening follows in much the same vain as the previous one, beers round the tents to start
but as the temperature drops we head for the beer tent,
once again the music marquee is packed so we opt to check out the custom bike show and listen to rather than see the bands. All too early in proceedings half of the crew head back to the tents already showing the signs of being full. About an hour passes before my phone goes the txt reads ‘ I would clean your bike seat if I was you ‘ and underneath is a rather too graphic photo of Baggy naked on Bertha’s saddle. Now luckily for you I haven’t sussed out how to download photos from my phone yet but I do have a feeling someone may be able to supply the picture if required!!
Kathryn and I stay for another hour or three before heading back.
The light is still on in Pete Wheeler’s tent and I wander over, there is Pete, passed out, just his head and shoulders in the tent,
why he spends so much money on technical tents is beyond me when on most occasions he never makes it back to them.
I use the last of my water to make myself a coffee and sit listening to the distant strains of the band ‘DeSilva’ when Kathryn manages to fall off her chair and knock over my cup. Time for bed I guess.
Rain on the tent wakes me around 6.30am, I lay there a while hoping it will stop and after a while it does. Christine and John provide the breakfast
and by 10am we are packed. Baggy is intrigued by the new Garmin Zumo 660 GPS that Martyn has just fitted and following the antics in Beverley the previous afternoon he decides to order one as soon as ( or if ) he gets home.
As we leave the site I slip in behind two of the custom bikes I’d seen the previous evening, one being a bright green full dress Harley appropriately names ‘Kermit the Hog’ and the other being a very tidy chop which I think won the best custom prize. I’m quite stunned that these bikes don’t go straight into a van 100 yards down the road as I’ve seen at other shows and also by how well both are ridden and the fact that off the mark acceleration leaves my GS for dead up to around 60mph. We cruised on at a steady 75mph and as Christine was still running the Guzzi in it made sense to stay behind them. I must admit that heavy cornering was not their strong point but by the time I pulled in for fuel at Goole I had developed an admiration for the performance shown by both machines.A steady ride home with the only excitement being loosing Christine on the outskirts of Doncaster and we were back home by 1pm. A quick wash down of the bike and myself and by 3pm I was in the pub for a Sunday session, well it is a Bank Holiday after all.