Tag Archives: Sherwood Chapter

Sherwood 9 – Part 2

This continues my personal take on Sherwood 9 which began with Part 1. You might like to start there too as it might help to make some sense of this.
Sherwood 9 Rally Ticket

Sherwood 9 Rally Ticket

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.

The Ride-Out

Sherwood 9 - Road Captains Briefing By Ride-out Leader, Y.I Man Jeff

Sherwood 9 - Road Captains' Briefing By Ride-out Leader, Y.I Man Jeff

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.

Sherwood 9 - Bikes and Riders Assembling For the Ride-Out

Sherwood 9 - Bikes and Riders Assembling For the Ride-Out

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.

Sherwood 9 - The Ride Starts

Sherwood 9 - The Ride Starts

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.

Traders’ Stalls

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.

Committee T-Shirts

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.

Sherwood 9 - Leatherman's Bike

Sherwood 9 - Leatherman's Bike

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.

Ride Safe


Sherwood 9 – Part 1

Sue and I spent the past weekend at Sherwood 9, the 9th rally held by the Sherwood Chapter of the Harley Owners Group.
Sherwood 9 - Sue And I Find A Rare Moment To Relax

Sherwood 9 - Sue And I Find A Rare Moment To Relax

The Perfect Venue
The past three rallies have all been held at Woodland Waters, at Ancaster in Lincolnshire. This is a fishing, camping and rural holiday complex built on a set of reclaimed gravel pits and has proved to be an ideal site for our rally. I had many positive comments from people all weekend about the venue, one lady saying, “Compared to the muddy fields of lots of other rallies, this place (Woodland Waters) is perfect.”
Shelduck - Our Lodge At Woodland Waters

Shelduck - Our Lodge At Woodland Waters


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.

The Gate 

Sherwood 9 Gate Crew (A Few Of Us)

Sherwood 9 Gate Crew (A Few Of Us)

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.

Rally Pins

Sherwood 9 Rally Pin

Sherwood 9 Rally Pin

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 secretary@sherwoodchapter.co.uk as soon as possible.

Friday Night

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.

 Friday Night at Sherwood 9 - Little Giants On Stage

Friday Night at Sherwood 9 - Little Giants On Stage

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.

In Part 2, I’ll try to cover my Saturday exhaustion, why we missed the ride-out, the trade stands and the Bike Show at Sherwood 9.
It will be Part 3 before we get to Saturday night’s fun.
Ride Safe

May Day Bank Holiday

We set off at 10:00 am to go to Peak Rail to sell raffle tickets on the train to raise some funds for the Darley Dale Down Building. This is a grade 2 listed building on Darley Dale Station that was abandoned when the railway from Matlock to Buxton was closed in 1968 and has been neglected ever since. The railway and the charitable trust are keen to restore it to use, but it will cost a lot of money – about quarter of a million pounds.

Our contribution today was to travel up and down the line, talking to the railway’s passengers and trying to persuade them to part with a pound for a strip of five tickets. The prize was a very large cuddly toy dog. Almost every family on the train was happy to join in, with early contributions from Australian visitors and a lone traveller from the USA. It was great to talk to people from as far afield in the UK as Stoke on Trent, Kettering, Manchester and Essex.

After a lot of walking up and down the train all day, punctuated by several mugs of tea, two bacon cobs and a slice of quiche from Rowsley buffet, we asked a passenger on the last trip to draw the winning ticket. As we pulled into Rowsley South station for the last time, the winner happened to be sitting on the platform, so it was great to be able to hand over the prize straight away. However, we had devised a cunning plan in case the winner had already left the railway – we had collected a name and phone number from everybody who bought a ticket and we had planned that the railway’s office staff would contact the winner and send the prize out by post.

On thing that Sue and I always find a bit of a rip-off with lots of raffles is when we are sold a strip of five tickets and the whole strip is put into the draw, effectively making it a single ticket. Sue and I were having none of this, so we asked each buyer to write their name and phone number on the first ticket and we copied this onto the other four before separating the individual tickets. Sure, it’s lots of work, but we both feel strongly that it is the only honest way that we can justify asking £1 for 5 tickets.

Anyway, we raised £87 pounds, not a huge proportion of the total needed, but it is more than we would have had if we’d stayed at home. We also rode over to the railway on the Heritage, making this the fourth consecutive day that we had ridden the bike over this weekend. With a dull, overcast start to the day, I almost left the bike in the garage and took the car, but when the sun came out and it turned into a warm spring day, the bike was the correct choice.

We left the railway at about 5:30pm and headed back to find the centre of Matlock was a traffic jam. We originally decided to head for home, but today was the first evening ride out of the year by Mansfield area group of Sherwood Chapter. It was a very easy decision to decide to ride to Mansfield and join the group who were having dinner in the Oak Tree. I had sausage and mash, Sue tucked into her customary roast chicken and we chatted to the group that grew to a respectable size as 7pm approached.

At the appointed hour, it must have been had a dozen or more bikes that set off behind our Chapter Director, Pete Clifford. He took an interesting roundabout route through the Trent-side villages before crossing the river at Gunthorpe Bridge. We then rode to the Castle Barge, a floating pub in Newark. After some good conversation, we all started to set off on our separate ways homewards as the night was starting to draw in and some of our number, Sam in particular, were starting to feel the cold. We arrived home almost 12 hours afters setting out to greeted by a hungry cat, Misty.

We are getting well into the riding season now and it is only a couple of days until the first ride out of the year organised by the shop. This, of course, is our chapter’s sponsoring Harley-Davidson dealership. With this ride out due to take place on Wednesday evening, that only leaves Tuesday night to give the bike a good wash before then. I am full of good intentions, but I’ll have to let you know how I go on in reality.

Ride safe,

What A Week! But Chuffing As Well As Hog

Just in case you think that life and these ramblings have become 100% bike, I’m going to buck the trend this time. However, I do have some bike-related bits to start with.

If you know our fair city of Nottingham, you’ll also know that it sometimes isn’t the most car-friendly place in the world.  However, you can always find somewhere to park a bike, which is one very good reason for having the Yamaha YBR125.

Going back to last Monday, my manager at work, who I’ll call Lynn (mainly because that’s her name), was due to attend the same work meeting as me across the city. Lynn said that she’d bring her car in so that we could go there together. I suggested that we could go on the Heritage Softail, and Lynn jumped at the chance, provided that Sue, my wife, didn’t object to her pillion seat being occupied by another. I duly checked and was given the go-ahead.

Monday dawned and I remembered the spare lid, gloves and neck tube. I arrived at work at the appointed hour to meet Lynn, who phoned in from home, not to bottle out, but to beg a lift from home to the meeting – a rather longer ride. I picked her up from her front door, gave her the usual new pillion briefing; things like don’t lean, let the bike do it; keep you feet up until we get there… Lynn climbed aboard to admiring glances from her teenage son and we set off. By the second street I remembered that Lynn rides horses and uses her knees to hang on – and has she got some grip! A Softail pillion seat is a bit higher than the rider’s seat and her knees and my kidneys were occupying the same bit of space.  At our destination, no more than five miles or across the city, Lynn climbed off and wobbled. She had been gripping me so tightly that she could hardly stand up.

With a slightly revised version of the pillion briefing, the ride back to work after the meeting was a bit more comfortable for both of us.

Let’s fast forward to the weekend.  Saturday was the warmest day of the year so far with warm sunshine all day. It started with a Sherwood Chapter committee meeting at Robin Hood Harley Davidson, followed by a chapter ride-out to the Cat & Fiddle pub at the top of a spectacular peak district pass. Although the ride was very well patronised by Chapter members, Sue and I headed off on our own to another part of Derbyshire; Rowsley South Station of Peak Rail.

We blew out the chapter ride for the outstandingly good reason that we had arranged to meet with Martin Cowling, an Australian trainer and consultant in volunteer management, at the railway. When I met Martin at a volunteering conference last year, we somehow started talking about trains and discovered a mutual interest. I invited him to come to Peak Rail as soon as he could make it, and this was the day.

With the chapter committee meeting having rambled on for a bit longer than I expected it to, we arrived at the railway a little later than we should have to be greeted by a chrus of railway volunteers saying, “There’s been someone asking for you.” For a few dreadful minutes, I thought that we had missed Martin and co, but just as the needs of the inner man took over and my pie and chips from the buffet arrived, our guests were spotted walking down the yard across from the station platform. Once they had arrived on the platform, introductions were made when Sue and and I were delighted to meet Martin along with Rob Jackson, (who is another figure from the world of Volunteering) along with his wife and two young sons. They had already had a trip on the train and a guided tour of the LMS Carriage Association‘s restoration shed and workshop.

While we were talking on the platform the train arrived at Rowsley station where Jackie Statham, the railway’s Joint Managing Director and ultimate volunteer, invited us all into the restaurant car, known at Peak Rail as The Palatine. We were treated to tea and cakes during a ride down the line to Matlock with some special chocoalte cakes for the children. All of our group, very much including Sue and I, enjoyed the experience immensely, but for Martin, it got better still when we arrived at Matlock Riverside station. Jackie asked him if he would like to ride back to Rowsley on the footplate of the steam locomotive.  At first, Martin didn’t seem too keen, but once he realised that this was genuine offer, he was delighted and went off to join the loco crew for the trip back, while the rest of us drank more tea.

On arrival back at Rowsley South, we took a walk down the yard towards the almost-completed engine shed and the Class 37 diesels, where we reminisced for a while about the old Inter City “Swallow” livery. By then, time was marching on and we went our separate ways; Martin flying out to the USA to work, as well as riding on an American railway or two.

I was back at the railway today (Sunday) as guard on the train, but that’s a fairly regular occurence and a fuller story can wait for another day.

Ride Safe

Men Of Harley Cream Tea Ride

This could have been be the most unlikely title for a series of Sherwood Chapter HOG ride-outs unless you had some understanding of the history. It’s really all the fault of those Ladies Of Harley.

For the past couple of years at least, the LoH have organised and led a series of rides to various venues where the riders and pillions, both female and male, have tucked into that most English of meals, a cream tea.

Ignoring the fact that the only one of these rides that we managed to join last summer, to Tissington in Derbyshire, arrived at the tea room minutes after they had stopped serving food, these rides have always had a great reputation within the chapter. So when the Ladies announced that they would not be organising these rides in 2008, our chapter Safety Officer, Neil Rose, said that he would take them on. So after a quick re-branding exercise, the first Men Of Harley Cream Tea Ride ride took place on a dry, but seriously chilly Sunday in April.

It was quite a good group of bikes that met at Robin Hood Harley-Davidson and left the city of Nottingham heading generally south – east, but took a looping route that ended at Rufford Abbey Country Park, via Newark and Ollerton. Neil seriously considered leading us through a ford at Wellow, but took the sensible decision to avoid the river that was, by all accounts, higher than usual due to the recent rain.

When we arrived at Rufford Park we were welcomed by a sign announcing that car drivers had to pay a fee, yet motorcycles were admitted free. Neil later admitted that he had breathed a sigh of relief as he approached the pay station. After parking up, we made a bee-line for the cafe, not for the refined gentility of a scone with cream and jam, but a large plate of pie and chips and couple of big mugs of tea. Although the weather had stayed dry, it was too cold to sit outside.

The ride home was rather shorter than the outward trip, a mere twenty minutes southwards on the A614 brought us back into Nottingham and the end of an enjoyable afternoon out. Now if we can only get the right weather for the next one, it could be perfect.

Ride safe

Hoggin’ The Brewery

A great ride is a very difficult thing to quantify, although I am sure that almost all of my my own great rides have all been aboard one of our Harleys. Having said that, my first ever great ride was during my Direct Access course, before I had even passed my bike test!, But that’s another post for another day. There are also some tales waiting to be told of great rides on the Sportster.

However, this ride report report relates to our current bike and will, I hope, appear in the next edition of Sherwood Chapter‘s magazine, Quill and Quiver. Here’s that report…

Hoggin’ The Brewery – Ride Report

Although our Easter Monday rideout has avoided the East Coast for a couple of years, Sherwood Chapter still feels the call of the mountains of East Lincolnshire. People with new bikes, like Sam’s fabulous blue lightning machine and our new Heritage (new to us at least) probably felt that call most keenly.
On the Sunday after we collected our bike from Robin Hood, we joined the assembled throng at the Friendly Farmer at Newark. After an obligatory coffee, Road Captain Sam York led the way down the A17 as we set off in glorious sunshine. This stayed with us for most of the day, defying the weather forecast of sleet or snow showers.

Andy and Vince Fellows joined us at Sleaford, bringing our numbers up to 8 bikes and 13 bodies. We had a great ride down through Boston and out towards the coast, with a left turn in the middle of Wainfleet into the Bateman’s Brewery Visitor Centre. If you’ve been to the Bass Museum (or Coors Visitor Centre) in Burton, Bateman’s is at the opposite end of the brewing spectrum. It is a small, family owned, independent brewery that makes only real ales. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, the brewery tour was excellent, the sample half-pint of XB was really good, the carvery-style lunch was outstanding and the whole visit was most enjoyable.

To cap it all, Sue and I were greeted by some former neighbours from Nottingham who now live in Wainfleet and had gone to the brewery for their own Sunday lunch.

On some rideouts, the ride back home can be a bit of an anti-climax, but Vince’s local knowledge came to the fore as we rode back to Sleaford via some winding country lanes.

Sue and I both thought that it was a great rideout; partly because it was our first chapter trip on our Heritage, but also because the routes, the destination and the company of chapter members worked together to make me want to do this ride again.

Ride Safe