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Easter motorcycling 2023 - I could've timed that phone call better...
Posted by The Prodigal on February 3, 2023, 12:35 pm
. Time was, at this time of year, thousands of UK motorcyclists would receive a plethora of mail, resplendently and inevitably bearing blue 2nd Class stamps (for reasons of economy). The quality of these missives varied; some consisted of a single folded sheet of A4 paper; while others had been posted in posh-looking envelopes which contained glossy, full-colour messages. What they had in common was that they were invites to Easter weekend rallies.
Spoilt rotten, we were. There were offers to attend motorcycle camping events all over the country, lasting two, three or even four days, the daddy bunny of them all being the East Leeds Lions Rally (now sadly defunct) in the village of Bramhope, which - despite its total unpretentiousness - regularly sold out to 1500 pre-booked customers. Otley – five minutes away by bus through what was described as “Emmerdale Country” – was a sea of black leather and Belstaffs.
It seemed – especially in the 1990s – that any motorcycle club pitching an Easter rally in Britain was on to a guaranteed winner, a major reason being that for many of those who hadn’t sampled the hypothermic delights of North Wales (Dragon), Wenlock Edge (Sheep Naggers), the Peaks (Mad March Hare) and/or the Pennines (Ides of March, a favourite of MZ Mark and myself) earlier in the year, the holiday weekend marked the beginning of their rally season. When Team Sober and Gems MCCs announced that they were teaming up to stage a one-off Easter weekend event (the “Gemober Rally”) at Gomersal – a mere 15 miles from the aforementioned East Leeds Lions venue – all 200 admission tickets were immediately snapped up.
That was then, and this is now. I haven’t received a rally flier for an event at any time of year through the post since 2010. (It was for the 30th Middle Wicket at Burnley, in case you’re interested. I’ve still got it. How utterly sad I am.) I reckon that these days the only places to find actual paper leaflets advertising rallies is at other rallies, along with the occasional biker café; such has been the power and widespread use of social media.
But – as I’ve recently discovered in my search for a bike-related camping weekend during Easter 2023 – even using the interweb has its problems, i.e., it can’t publicise rallies that don’t exist. On the relevant pages I generally consult, there were plenty of rallies advertised in the UK from May onwards but sod all for Easter. And the trade press featured nothing suitable, either.
Thankfully, salvation was at hand in the form of the Leicester Phoenix MCC site [https://www.lpmcc.net/home/home_index.htm] which tends to feature forthcoming rallies of a quirkier variety (as though all rallies are not by their very nature quirky in some respect). Amongst a miscellany of Easter events on the continental mainland, there’s a rally listed as taking place on the Derbyshire/South Yorkshire border.
This is geographically near-perfect for me, involving what could possibly be an interesting foray across the Snake Pass, but I noticed two potential problems. Firstly, there’s no on-site catering, which would mean surviving on pork pies, Mars bars and pub grub for two days - but this presents me with no real difficulties as it differs little from my day-to-day diet. The second possible snag could have proved a little more tricky; it’s a combo event.
I rang the phone number associated with the rally to ascertain as to whether I would be turned away if I arrived on a vehicle which was one wheel short of the intended criteria, using my wheedling voice, which involves employing plenty of elongated vowels. (“I’m sorry to bother yooooou, but could I pleeeeeease…”) After a minute or so listening to my bullsh*t the chap on the other end of the line – his name is John – politely interrupted me and said yes, by all means turn up on a solo, but that if I needed any more details I should call him later because “I’m at a funeral.”
“A-ha,” I said. “I could’ve timed this [call] better.”
“No - it’s all right. We’re having a great time. He was a club member,” John informed me. “85, he was.” This confirmed something I’d always suspected – that owners of British outfits live indecently long and happy lives. (Hello, Bryan.)
Anyway, barring any unforeseen catastrophes I’m set up for my Easter break now. In there with the 3-wheeled kids.
. "Nothing from the past was sad...every incident from the past was laughable for the simple reason that it was past, and that he had survived it without mortal damage." (Alan Sillitoe.)
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