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It's Just A Ride....
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1,499 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
National Meet - Ride Report... (Better late than never!)

He Came, He Saw, He Dropped his Bike (A Lot!)

So it’s time to meet the gang, time to meet the hardcore rufty tufty cyber guys and girls who give it large on the forum. The people, who for the last year have only been imaginary voices in my mind as I read their posts and try to build up a picture of their personas. It was time for the XRV.ORG.UK annual National meet.:rolleyes:

Day 1 – The ride from St.Neots to Dent (Lake District)
An early start beckoned on the Thursday morning for a rendezvoused in St.Neots, not ten miles from my home, a small group of us heading up from the South East were to meet in the Market Square café.

Almost instantly after converging a feeling of solidarity became apparent. Not that I knew or had met any of my compadres before, I didn’t even know their real names, only their forum handles, but the feeling was definitely there. Why? Well obviously because of the Bikes. It’s unusual to see big trail bikes about, excluding obviously the BMW GS fashion accessory, ridden (well kind of), by yuppie wanna be Ewan McGregor’s, but here I was submersed within a small collective of them. More than that though, you know the excitement you feel when in between the whole plethora of R1 and Blades you spot on the roads, you very occasionally see another bike like yours and you start waving frantically, well it was that emotion, but as a constant. Here I was riding with another four. (Oh and a couple of baby Alps and a Varadero. Varadero, OK best I not mention the world ‘Trail’ again, we’ll substitute that word with ‘Loud’). This sensation would remain with me throughout the weekend and the overriding feeling that I’ll take back with me from the meet, being with like minded people who all shared a passion for the same thing, big adventure trail bikes and especially the Africa, my Africa.

After breakfast it was time to get the posse together and head North straight up the A1, to the home of real tea, cheap beer, and where the family false teeth are handed down from generation to generation, Yorkshire, the place of my birth.

Now it has been asked in the past why I need an after market forty three liter fuel tank on my bike? Why should I carry enough fuel that makes the idea of refueling another bike ‘As you ride’, Nimrod style, a reasonably realistic one? Well the following two-hundred mile ride to Dent in North Yorkshire with the rest of the gang illustrated to me just why. How is it possible to have to make seven, yes seven stops for fuel in such a short distance! I know, let synchronize our fuel loads, not. Jesus lads it’s only two-hundred miles, it’s not even half a tank load, what the fcuk are you playing at!:rolleyes:

Anyways, in between stopping, starting, stopping, starting, loosing SohoEasy, stopping, starting, Wheelie’s Sat. Nav. taking us on the scenic route through Bradford, stopping and starting again, we eventually make it, many many hours later to the Yorkshire Dales. Then not five miles from our campsite in Dent, we grind to a halt, again (Stops and Starts for gate opening, where tight Yorkshire farmers can’t part with the cash to install cattle grids have obviously been excluded, mostly), but this stop is for a bona fide reason, nothing to do with Fuel or Bodily functions.

Anton88 (whose RD4 looks amazing and which I had considered making an offer for when I first saw it), had developed a steering issue. Now, as we all know, when you have an ‘Issue’ with your Africa you don’t need a degree in mechanics to fix it, you don’t need a Honda dealer, you don’t even need a recovery service, you need a ‘Chad’, and luckily for us there was one present in our gang (Definition of ‘Chad’, we’ve all met them, the bike Guru, the chap who is in his element just getting oily and imparting his vast knowledge).

I’m sure Anton88 hadn’t even finished the sentence, “I Think I’ve got a problem with my….”, before Chad was there with a couple of the other guys, borrowing tools and stripping the poor chap’s bike down to almost its frame. Alright, maybe that’s just a slight exaggeration, but as someone who knows nothing technical about bikes, that’s how it appeared. Then, just as swiftly as Anton88’s bike was dismantled it was re-assembled while it seemed Anton was still finishing his original descriptive sentence of the problem. It was something to do with the eegy flippidy flop not being tight enough on thingymagey, apparently, and would need further attention later (My considered offer for Anton88 bike was retracted), but anyways, everything was cool and we started off, again.

Now you might of wondered why I was so harsh earlier on Yorkshire farmers and their inability to part with a little cash to install cattle grids and replace the frequent use of gates. Well I better admit to slight bias of opinion here, for it was at one of these gates that indivertibly caused my first incident of the weekend.

Approaching downhill to what was the last gate on the days ride, and after failing to nudge it open, I stopped, put my bike on her stand, got off and walked over to the gate to open it. Did I mention it was downhill? Did I refer to it as a very steep hill? No? An oversight, I’m sorry. Crash! Umm, guess that wasn’t the best place to try and park. Drop number one, bugger.

Whealie witnessing my complete incompetence came to the rescue, well attempted too at least. On standing his bike down, it drove straight through his puck. Crash! Two down five left to go! I did mention it was a very steep hill didn’t I? Thankfully the other weren’t as unlucky as Whealie and more competent than myself and after a few minuets jostling around they all managed to safely and securely park their bikes and help recover a degree stability from the carnage. Wheelies screen developed a slight custom look, but apart from that everyone and everything was fine.

Importantly though, being the first to drop their bike at the meet was part of my cunning plan to bring a more relaxed and harmonious atmosphere to the meet. By doing so I had successfully relieved everyone else from the pressure of becoming the first idiot to do so and therefore providing carte blanche for all the others to drop away. Convinced?

Eventually, mid afternoon we reached the campsite to find maybe thirty or so members had reached the objective before us (no great surprise!). We also located our lost member SohoEasy, who had stayed on the correct route throughout his trip up and unluckily missed out on the many wonders Bradford had offered the rest of us. The tents were pitched and the local shop visited at haste, obviously to allow more time for the evenings entertainment in the pub. This was a relaxed environment, well deserved, and a chance to recant the day’s tales about farm gates, inner city deprivation, and to discuss the results our extensive research into the regional fluctuations of fuel prices.

Much beer was consumed in the pub and back at the campsite Marquee. People were introduce, name after name, almost all forgotten, for which I’m blaming the alcohol. A great deal of pleasure for me was taken from putting faces to handles, names to bikes, relaxing and being in the company of good friendly people, all talking the same language, XRV.

Day 2 – Fancy a little off Roading?

Snoring? No, not me governor, well maybes just a little. The problem with camping, especially with lots of other heavy drinking guys is a degree of sleep apnea has to be expected. The solution though is easy. Either leave your helmet on, stick your ear plugs back in, or drink so much that nothing is going to wake you. I opted for the ear plug solution as a ride out had been planned for the morning, and riding with a hang over is one motorbike skill I’ve yet to master.

Needless to say I slept well and arose early feeling refreshed and sprightly, which is more than I can say for those who chose the drink to sleep option. What I hadn’t realized though was the fortuitous nature of the pitch I’d chosen the previous day. It appeared that through a stroke of pure luck, located next to me was Jamie Oliver, yes the Jamie Oliver!

Alright then, another very slight exaggeration, this Jamie Oliver, might have been slightly older, far less irritating and called BTBloke, but needless to say his culinary camping skills would have put the real young whipper snapper to shame. Give my man the ingredients and he’ll cook it. “A quick ‘fruits de la mer’ sir? No problem”. I was amazed at what one man could achieve with a single ring stove, though I’m still trying to reconcile to myself why anyone would need to take five different spatulas on a camping trip! Obviously this resource located so close at hand had to be exploited, in fact throughout the whole weekend and I managed to escape the chore of cooking completely. I was left in charge of providing supplies and boiling the kettle, an accord I found to be most acceptable.

After my gourmet breakfast it was time for my first ride out and the days planned activities included three off road sections through the Dales. The informal briefing held by Barftone, our ride leader, should have raised my suspicions though, “I’ve never ridden any of these stretches before so really don’t know what to expect”, just slightly vague maybe? Anyways, eight of us left mid-morning to tackle all Mother Nature could devise to test both man and machine and in Barftone we trust. Have I mentioned yet my off-road experience is somewhat limited? A slight oversight maybe?

Continued Below.... (10000 Max Character limit :confused:)
 

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It's Just A Ride....
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1,499 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Continued from Above...

Day 2 – Fancy a little off Roading (Continued)

We rode a few lanes through the dales and stopped to all fill up with fuel, synchronicity, now there’s a novelty, before reaching the first of the days off road challenges, Hill 38! Steep? Yes! Rutted? Yes! Loose? Very! So loose in fact the local farmers won’t even attempt to descend it in there 4x4’s. This was a baptisms of fire and a far cry from anything I’d done before on a bike. BTBloke aka Chef, had kindly volunteered to look after me, being as he was vastly more experienced at off roading than myself. His tutoring however was wasted, not ten meters up I got caught in a rut and my bike went down, Bugger!

Chef was there however, picked me up and between the group of us we raised the bike, not as easy as it might seem when it’s laying down on a loose surface on a forty degree angle. And it was about now I was beginning to regret the afore mentioned 43 Liter fuel tank and the additional 30kilos I was carrying! Fortunately no harm was done and after a little more coaching from Chef I was off again, this time for a least another five meters. Down again, double bugger, this was getting just slightly irritating now.

Assistance again was provided by Chef and the others, more coaching and more encouragement was delivered, and this time adhered to. The rest of the ascent was made successfully and reaching the summit was totally awesome. I can’t thank the guys that got me there enough, the feeling of triumph over extreme adversity was overwhelming.

I’d made it and I wanted to share this joy with everyone. Chef arrived at the top a few minuets later, and just as he was dismounting his bike fell. I didn’t witness the drop, my first glimpse of him was seconds later and that of him writhing on the floor in pain, he’d caught the bike on his left testicle! Shit! What about my lunch! :rolleyes:

Now I had concluded that it was just my lack of experience that had failed me initially, and maybe it was, but as more and more of the team eventually reached the top I was beginning to question this theory. It appeared that half our number had had similar experiences to me, one even dropped their bike more times than I did (It’s OK Eamon I won’t mention who it was), while another guy had let one of our squad’s expert riders take his bike up for him. I didn’t feel quite as incompetent when Chef said, in a high pitched voice obviously, “That was technically difficult’. Yippee I’d done technically difficult!

The rest of the days riding paled into insignificance ‘Technically’, we’d tackled the hardest run of the day first, though obviously that didn’t stop others dropping their bikes a few more times for good measure. But it felt good and I rode like a God over Roman Roads, over Dales and through Valleys, where some stunning locations where found, places that tarmac doesn’t reach, isolated and peaceful, we’ll with the exception of a few V-Twins making a slight racket. Ramblers were dodged, sheep we’re scared and it seemed like we had the whole of North Yorkshire as our play ground. It was a most enjoyable riding day, one where I learnt the true nature of the Africa and her ability to tackle anything you throw at her, that is if you can manage to stay upright.

Day 3 – The Lakes.
The little lady had been rescued from the train station the previous evening, so the choice of ride outs was restricted for today, two up meant tarmac. (Though I was mightily impressed with Dave S that on the previous days ride had tackled all the off roading with his son sitting behind him, and didn't drop it once!). As Barftone had done an exemplary job yesterday as ride leader, I again opted to ride with him and a small group heading for a leisurely tour around the Lakes and Mountains. So after yet another Pukka breakfast supplied by Chef it was time to go riding again.

We headed for Wastwater for lunch, taking the scenic route by some of the less travelled paths and single track roads, stopping occasionally for ‘Must’ photo opportunities, and so that Barftone could turn his map the right way up. Then calamity happened, sitting in the Pub for lunch, Oxbone became aware that his mobile phone was lost. So after being fleeced for a pub lunch, we headed back to it’s last know whereabouts, our previous stop, to search. Alas though to no avail. Fortunately though at this point, Oxbone did a somewhat more extensive search of his pockets, and guess what? He had it all along. Ah you have to laugh, Muppet! :rolleyes:

I’ve always like the Lake District, I was fortunate enough to have spent a considerable amount of time there as a child, but now many years later, it’s just become too busy. This was a Saturday and the Grockels were out in force. I have nothing against tourist, for I by definition was one myself. But when you’re a tourist driving a car and are just about to tackle one of the most demanding roads in the UK, Hardknott Pass and your driving skills and experience are somewhat limited, then I’m forced to question your suitability to remain in the gene pool.

Hardknott Pass is not an easy ride, single track, adverse cambers, steep ascents, blind tight hairpins, potholed, all make it a road you need to respect, and when you add in the variable of car drivers with no expertise trying to hit you, it becomes somewhat difficult.
Twice I was nearly taken off by cars that failed to take turns correctly, one even managed to ‘bounce’ off their nearside embankment and deflected straight towards me. Saturday it seems, adds to the ‘Fun Factor’. That being said though, it was a most enjoyable and a great road to ride.

We all returned to the campsite and then onwards to the pub for dinner. It was agreed with Chef that as payment for his culinary skills, I would treat him to a Pub Dinner as a reward and to say thank you for all his efforts. This however did not materialize; his dinner that is, so while the rest of enjoyed our well deserved victuals, BTBloke starved. Not only had they forgotten to deliver his dinner, but they’d forgotten to even write down his order. He was starving, but I was eight pounds better off, result.:rolleyes:

Saying that a good evening was had, a little Guinness was consumed and the conversations, surrounded by good people, friends, where most enjoyable.

Day 4 – Homeward Bound.
I had to be in Portsmouth that evening, via Cambridge and Hemel Hempstead, so an early departure had been planned. Chef as usual knocked out some nourishment, the camp was dismantled and after a few goodbyes, and I’m sorry if you weren’t included in these, my exit was made. This time taking the correct route, Bradford was omitted.

The ride was good, through some of the best scenery Yorkshire has to offer, and a reasonable pace was set. But the best bit about the trip, even better than overtaking a bunch of Africa’s poncing around on the A1, you know who you where, was the feeling of contentment. I had no expectations of what the weekend might be like prior to arriving. I new however from reading the Forum there’s a great number of committed XR loonies on it, but before the meet I hadn’t considered what a great bunch of people they might be. You we’re, all of you.

So I’d just like to say thank you all for making me feel so welcome. Thanks to BTBloke for cooking and watching over me. Thanks to Barftone for not killing me. Thanks to Dave S and all his crew that made it happen. But my biggest thanks is reserved to all those guys that helped me, quite frequently, pick my bike back up, heavy bitch isn’t she :rolleyes:

Thanks All. :)

Oh.. I’ve stolen photos from all over, so if they're yours and you’re pissed about it, in the words of our most esteemed member, Cabby, “F**k You”… ;)



YouTube Vid Here... (If you haven't seen it yet!)
 

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Deer Dodger
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3,199 Posts
Christ, what a write up :grin: :grin: :grin:

Well said Fletch, we met briefly, but I too, was impressed with the cameraderie of the meet. They are a good bunch of guys and gals and as you say, everyone was made to feel very welcome.

Roll on the next meet !!!!
 

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Premium Member
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10,746 Posts
What a brilliant write up fletch
But you are so right about the people.What a great bunch:D:D
What brilliant roads(Not sure if i would do hardknott again 2up:rolleyes:)and a great weekend:D:D
 

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aka Oxbone :)
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1,514 Posts
:cool: Great report Fletch..... apart from one wee section :( ..... I swear it wasnt there when I first looked..... someone playing tricks on me... :D

btw.. Is it possible to get a copy of "The Usual Suspects" video... and what is the music to it... its fantastic..
 

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It's Just A Ride....
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1,499 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
btw.. Is it possible to get a copy of "The Usual Suspects" video... and what is the music to it... its fantastic..
PM me your email addy dude... I'll sort it out later... (Off for a ride now :p )

The Tunes... George Baker - Little Green bag...
(If you recognise it, then that will be from the movie Reservoir Dogs... Hence the association, Barftone as Mr.White... ;) )

Take it easy
 

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SOTGATT
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3,522 Posts
Well written Fletch...There was a good feeling all weekend wasn't there...

And I've been quoted...Literary Fame !!!!!:)
 

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whys the rum always gone?
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17,680 Posts
well written dude:cool:
 

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Sir FallofaLott
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Just when I thought I'd recovered from the fits of envy jealousy and covetedness of missing out on what was by all accounts the best meet ever, you go and do this. :(

Thanks.


No really Thanks :thumbup:



Brillant report



*sigh*
 

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geriatric
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2,474 Posts
I and the wife can confirm both testies present and intact, i think!

great report mate and it was a pleasure to serve as your domestic,i await the next time, as I hope all the others too hung over to cook sunday morning will be next time all the bacon needs using up.

again great report,excellent memory for detail,brings all the laughs flooding back.:D
 

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Shorter member :-)
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Fletch,
Great report of the weekend.


Simon:D :D :D :D :D
 

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"call me lucky"
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728 Posts
reading your report took my mind straight back to dent. cant wait for the next one.:D
 

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21st Century Schizoid Man
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SOTGATT
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3,522 Posts
svsvsvsvsvsvsssssvsvsvsvs... :toothy10:


Great ride report too!

That can't be how you spell that sound !!!

:laughing6: :laughing6: :laughing6: :laughing6: :laughing6: :laughing6: :cool:
 

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Premium Member
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9,523 Posts
Fantastic write up Fletch. Brought it all back to life.
 
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