The rally took place this past weekend, as you can see from the dates on the rally ticket, above. My experience of Thursday and Friday at the rally are in part 1. In this I described how I spent all day helping out on the gate before going into the function room to get the band sorted out and to do the disco. By 1:30 am, when I called a halt to the music, I was tired. In fact I was absolutely kn*cker*d.
Sue and I got back to the cabin by about quarter to two and I don’t remember anything else until about 8am on Saturday when the fan in the bathroom the other side of the wall from my head woke me up as one of the occupants of the lodge, who had all kept far more sensible hours, performed their morning ablutions. I rolled over again and tried to sleep, but by about 9 am, we had given up and crawled reluctantly out of the very comfortable pit. I still felt like death warmed up, so we agreed that the controls of a motorbike were not really safe in my hands that morning.
This meant that we had decided not to go on the rally ride-out. However, after a bite of breakfast, we strolled across to the rally centre (just outside the bar and restaurant at Woodland Waters) to see the bikers assemble and set off. When we got there, Kev Taylor, Assistant Director of the chapter, was staffing the gate on his own, so I stayed to help him while sue wandered around with her camera in hand snapping lots of pictures of the preparations for the ride.
Safety is always a big issue for all HOG chapters, especially for the big ride-outs like this one. With Sherwood Chapter, every ride starts with some careful planning. For a big ride, the ride leader and many of the road captains will have travelled the route by car and bike several times before the date.
While Jeff was briefing the road captains and marshalls, the ride was assembling.
There were 139 bikes (plus the marshalls) on the Sherwood 9 ride to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirby. Sue got a number of pictures of the ride as the bikes rumbled around Woodland Waters and out onto the Lincolnshire roads.
I felt really sorry to see the ride-out depart and not to be part of it, but it was the sensible decision in view of the state of my body at the time.
Kev and I stayed on the gate for another couple of hours to welcome a few more rally latecomers before we decided that enough was definitely enough. Although we don’t have lots of rally experience, we had always gone on the ride-out. So I found it to be a strange atmosphere that was left behind as the roar of the bikes faded into the distance.
The Morning After
It soon became clear that we were by no means the only ones who had not gone out that morning. We spoke to a number of people, including Liz from the Robin Hood Harley-Davidson shop, who were still recovering from some the excesses of Friday night. Whilst I can be sure that it was only tiredness that affected me that morning, others had definitely over-indulged in the products available at the bar.
While the site was quiet, Sue went to explore the traders who had set up their stalls at the rally. There were stalls selling T-shirts with a bewildering array of designs, you could have bought all kinds of leather accessories and other bike related souvenirs and there were quite a lot of shiny chrome bits ready to be bolted on to your bike. There was a stall selling cleaning materials (about which I will write more later), but the most popular stall on site all weekend must have been that of Sharon the Pancake Lady.
She is an amazing woman who, like Ronnie Barker’s Arkwright character from the old TV series, is “Open All Hours”. You can buy a very late night banana and chocolate pancake after the disco has finished and be 100% confident that she’ll be open for the early risers to have their bacon butties.
Sue’s favourite stall quickly became the one from our sponsoring dealer, Robin Hood Harley-Davidson. They were offering some amazing deals on T-shirts and other Harley badged clothing. I think I came back from the rally with at least two new T-shirts and a couple of new shirts, all on offer at amazingly low prices. Sue even found a T-shirt that she liked and that fit her. Sue also bought me one of the Rally 9 T-shirts from “Fingers”, who produced and sold them on behalf of the chapter. As I write this, it is in the wash, so I can’t get a photo of it at the moment. In fact, in all the photos that Sue took during the weekend, there isn’t one that shows the rally T-shirt properly.
I can’t get too far away from the topic of T-Shirts without mentioning the horrible orange monstrosities that were handed out to committee members so that we could be identified. They had the Sherwood 9 Logo printed on the front and “Sherwood On Duty Official” printed on the back. Yes, with classic schoolboy humour, they read “Sod Off”. However, the problem with them was not the colour, nor was it the tasteful design. They were made of a polyester mix that made them both stretchy and very sweaty. I am not as slim as I once wished I was and frankly, nor is Sue. I did wear my T-shirt, but Sue went off to try hers on and refused point-blank to have it clinging to every lump and bump.
The idea of a committee T-shirt was basically a good one, but this year’s attempt was not the best way to do it
After we had wandered around the site for a while, we headed back to the cabin and went to sleep for an hour or so. However, we were woken by bikes returning from the ride-out. I decided to get up when one of the people sharing the cabin with us offered a cup of tea, although Sue rolled over and tried to get back to sleep for another hour or so.
The Bike Show And Silly Games
One of the features of a rally is the bike show where proud owners of customised machines, (and let’s face it, just about every Harley gets customised in some way) have the opportunity to show their bike off and for the rally-goers to vote for the best bike in a number of classes. I have never been tempted to subject any of my own bikes to detailed criticism in a bike show, and this appears to be the opinion of the vast majority of bikers. Fortunately, there are enough people with big enough egos and nice enough bikes to make a competition of it. At Sherwood’s rallies, the Ladies of Harley organise the bike show under the leadership of committee member Jane Confrey.
Sue took this picture of the bike belonging to Sherwood Chapter member “Leatherman”, which won one of categories of the bike show with his machine that features this beautifully tooled leather saddle and bags.
While the bike show was being set up, Sam York and her team organised a number of silly games. As a fully paid up member of the cowards’ guild, I retired to the cabin, safely out of the way.
As I still have the whole saga of Saturday night and Sunday morning to write about, this is heading inexorably for part 3. See you there.