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13th - 15th May 2005
Friday the 13th and its time once again for the NABD's national rally held at Astle Park in Cheshire. The ride up went well, meeting up with several friends and arriving at about 2 in the afternoon to find the site already quite full. We managed to find a space large enough to fit all our tents together and proceeded to unpack. The weather was quite sunny but with a wind that made the task of erecting our tents very entertaining to say the least. I managed to break 2 sections of tent pole in the act as well as almost loosing the tent altogether. It was more a case of tent flying than tent erecting. Of course once the tents were up then the wind died down, until other unsuspecting rally goers decided to try and put their tents up, then the wind came back with a vengeance.
There was a healthy turn out to the event. With a vast array of different bikes and trikes built to a very high standard. Luckily the spot we had found (within the disabled area) was quite near the entertainment and stalls. A quick reccy around found the usual two marquees with each day's entertainment posted and a large amount of stalls selling the usual array of clothing, trinkets and other biking paraphernalia. The layout was very good and the ground easy enough to traverse, even for our friends in wheelchairs. Once we had found our bearings it was time for food and refreshment before retiring to gather our strength before the evening began.
I surfaced again a few hours later and found a few stragglers had joined our merry group and after catching up with old friends I decided to try to find a replacement bike jacket after mine was deemed unfit for further service. Unfortunately very few companies cater for the Xtra Large Fat Bastard size but eventually I managed to find a suitable replacement at Bikers Gear Box for a respectable £59.99. Suitably impressed and relieved of my money it was time to partake in some alcoholic refreshment by way of the main marquee. At £1 a tin you could be assured of a very happy evening to come. A visit to the NABD tent to purchase a badge and new T-shirt found us outside the lap-dancing tent. Purely from a professional point of view we hung around for a while to see the sights before retiring back to the tents once again.
After this period the evening begins to get a bit blurred. I know we re-visited the marquees and listened to the bands and also enjoyed some more refreshments but other than that I'm not too sure of the details. I probably enjoyed myself though.
Luckily I awoke the next morning in my tent. With bleary eyes and thick head I faced the new morning at about 7. A mug of coffee was thrust into my hand and so the Saturday began. Another bright (too bright some might say) day with a healthy wind and I noticed that there were quite a few more tents than the previous day. In fact someone apparently tried to place their tent in the middle of ours during the night, but once they were pointed out the fact that we needed to be able to get out of our tents, they disappeared into the night with a half erect tent. After the usual round of questions such as "what happened last night" and "did I really do that" we decided that food and strong coffee was needed. As I get older and attend more and more rallies I seem to notice that I generally appreciate the little things that make all the difference. For example at this event there has always been Holy Joe's coffee tent. Where, 24 hours a day, a nice cup of coffee and a sit down can be had for just 50p. Run by the Christian Motorcycle Club, Holy Joe's has become a sort of oasis of calm amidst the madness. I recommend it to anybody who needs to 'time out'.
A few of us headed over for the wedding that was being performed at the 100% biker tent at midday. A very strange event to hold at a rally, but I wish the couple a happy life and future together. One of our club members, Beemer, celebrated his birthday on Saturday as well. So in the spirit of friendship the club had a whip round and settled on helping the celebrations along with a lap dance. Judging by the look on his face when he emerged it was just as well that there was an ambulance parked outside the entrance as well. This was followed by an outside exhibition of pole dancing by some (extremely cold looking) scantily clad females. It's amazing just how quickly a crowd can gather when there is some flesh on show. Grudgingly the crowd dispersed once they realized that it was over, although a few of our club members decided that it might be worthwhile to hang about - just in case - until it was decided that a row of wheelchairs might be a safety hazard. Mainly because people were not concentrating on where they were walking, I can't imagine what distracted them.
The bikes that were entered into the show were gathered in the middle of the 'arena' and it just proved the high standard that bikes ad trikes are now being built. I didn't envy the judges job of sorting them out and awarding the prizes.
I decided to go easy on the evening to recover from the excesses of the previous night, and also in view of the ride home the following day. Most of the evening was spent by the tents talking and listening to the bands in the marquee not too far away. I couldn't tell you who they were but they were very entertaining and seemed to go down very well.
The Friday proved to be a hot sunny day, ideal for the ride home. Once the tents were packed it only left the goodbyes. I'm always sad to leave when it's been such a good gathering but at least it leaves the opportunity to meet again.
It was great to meet up with some old friends again. I also noted that the rally was very well organized, the toilets were plenty and more importantly cleaned often and the main arena well laid out and accessible. The only down side was the roomer of thefts from some of the tents, this is always a problem at large events and casts a dark shadow of mistrust over the whole thing. Also there seemed to be an extra-ordinary amount of rubbish left on the site, especially around the food stands. Although there were plenty of large wheelie bins it seems that some people can't be bothered to use them. What a shame.
This event managed to pull quite a few people in from all corners of the UK. Friends form Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Wight and all points of the compass managed to meet up again and chew the fat so to speak. It made a well-organized rally even better and I for one am glad I didn't miss the opportunity. Although I didn't see most of the laid-on entertainment, and there was something for everybody, I did have a thoroughly good time and would recommend it to anyone.
You can find out more about NABD on their website.