As we are both members of the chapter committee, Sue and I arrived at the site on Thursday afternoon, ready to help with setting up. As it turned out, all we had to do was set up the disco equipment in the large function room behind Woody’s Bar and the site restaurant as there were quite a lot of other chapter members and rally-goers who had all done the same. In no time at all the chapter marquee was up, the gate tent was ready and the site had started to fill up quite nicely. We even had time for a committee meeting to discuss the final arrangements for the weekend and to continue with some of the planning for next year’s rally.
Although this was the start of the weekend itself, our involvement in Sherwood 9 had been active for many months. I had been taking bookings for the rally itself as well as for the log cabin lodges set around the lakes. We had 286 pre-booked places with more than 130 more people turning up and paying at the gate. I am convinced that the weather played a significant part in attracting such a good turnout for the weekend, although the venue itself also received a lot of compliments and, I hope, the rally programme itself is also a reason for people to make the journey from all over the country. We had HOG members from chapters across the country. I recall talking to representatives of New Forest, Fenlanders, Aire Valley, Nene Valley and of course, a lot of members of Sherwood Chapter. I’m quite willing to concede that there will have been other chapters there as well, but I can’t necessarily remember them all.
Serious Miles By Scots Riders
I do recall seeing some riders from Scotland arrive on the Friday and was amazed when I learned that they had ridden down to Bridgewater (in Somerset) and back on Saturday. I suppose that after their trip from Scotland to the midlands, three hours each way to Somerset was a local jaunt for them.
On Friday, the rally “officially” opened when we opened the gate just before midday. From about 10:30, though, a group of about eight of us had been finishing stuffing leaflets, flyers and the ubiquitous black bin bags into the welcome packs that each person was given as they arrived and booked in. The gate prcedure soon became a well-oiled machine, with several people welcoming the arriving bikers (including the ones in cars, caravans and motor-homes. With tickets checked or money collected, details were recorded on the pre-printed list of ticket holders or on the money taken sheets and rally packs were handed over.
I must have spent about eight hours on the gate on Friday, although several others did even longer stints. Although it was quite hard work, it was very enjoyable. At 7pm, I went off to make sure that the band was OK and to get ready for my own involvement on the disco.
As I look back, I now feel that we made a mistake deciding that the all-important rally pins would only be available for people who had pre-booked.
It only takes a cursory glance at almost any biker’s leather or denim waistcoat to realise that pins and patches are a central part of biker culture. There were quite a number of disgruntled people who had to be told that pins were only for pre-booked people. However, within a few hours, we had decided to make pins available to anyone who wanted one, even if it meant ordering some more. Sue took quite a lot of orders for pins during the rest of weekend, but if you haven’t ordered yet and would like one (or more), please let Sue know by email to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Friday is very much arrival day at the rally, but by the evening, the vast majority of attendees are on site with tents pitched or well settled into cabins. So the evening is good time to emerge, renew old friendships and make new ones, to socialise and become part of the weekend proper. Obviously, this centres on the bars. It is also part of the rally culture (about which I will write more) that there is a band (or sometimes a couple of bands) and a disco to provide some entertainment. For the past couple of years, we have provided the disco for Sherwood’s rally (and for Hoggin’ The Beaver). This year we set up the disco in large function room, in the same spot as it was last year at the side of the stage where Friday’s band, Little Giants. They describe their sound as “Funkin’ Country Soul Rock” and this turned out to be fair description of their two sets. I enjoyed their music, although their PA system might have been a little small for the room.
Unfortunately, Woodland Waters’ function room is not very well ventilated and the temperature in the room drove most people outside for most of the evening. This was great for those conversations, but it left the atmosphere in the room a little flat, with too few people on the dance floor or at the tables. However, I had a great time, digging out some classic rock tracks and mixing in a lot of 60s and 70s hits. It seems that Harley owners do tend to be of a “certain” age.