Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I wouldn't if I were you, there be dragons over there....

There is no more satisfying way to start an 8am Dragon Rally trip, than with a phone call from our erstwhile PR Secretary with the news that the car won't start...
Now to be fair, he was only setting off in the car so that he could bring his kit easily, and then climb aboard his chosen weapon for the weekend, and here it is

After all, 100 miles on a Suzuki Bandit 1200 is hardly a challenge, is it?
Your Scribe, meanwhile, was taking his chances with a machine of a different ilk, namely Boris, the old Russian, here en route with 'The Red Arrow'.

The Grand Mahout was much less adventurous, on his/wifes Guzzi V50.
Some thoroughly miserable drizzly weather proceeded to follow us down the Wirral, and into Wales, but fortunately ceased by the time second brekkie was digested, at the Castle Park Cafe in Ruthin. One of the bikes outside the cafe was being ridden by an 80- year -old fella, going to his 49th Dragon Rally, which is some feat, never mind for a guy his age. Well done, that man.
 The B5105 is one of the best roads to play on at speed, but on a scoot or a sidecar, is a delight as you have time to take in the scenery. Except for a long downhill section, where the top speed for the scoot was tested. The sun didn't make it out, but the rain stopped and it generally brightened up, so all was well for the run to Betws y Coed. On the exit side of town, we remembered what we forgot - milk for the brews, so sent the PR Secretary back into town for it. Sat at the side of the road at the end of a straight in a 30mph zone, wearing a white flip front helmet and a hi-viz jacket, some rallygoers took fright and thought it was a speed trap. Oops. Sorry...
We sat there for a while, apparently the sight of a beardy-weirdy on a scoot was a source of hilarity in town, and the PR Secretary had to fend off numerous admirers before screaming back up the road to us.
 At 30mph.
The control caravan of old has sprouted foundations and a fab cafe, either that, or the caravan has been binned and a cafe is now used instead. A lovely old Norton graced the site.
But - onwards and upwards!
The campsite could have been a little drier, that is true.

But it's a rally. In February. In Snowdonia. Of course the weathers' bloody rubbish. It wouldn't be a proper Dragon otherwise. Just to make life interestin',  the PR Secretary noted he had forgotten a bit of kit.
His sleeping bag. 
Oh, how we laughed !
The variety of machinery on display, as we wandered about, beer in hand, is always fascinating to see, from pampered toys on an adventure, to proper rally monsters doing what they do best. Bloody marvellous.

Suitably attired - stupid hat, big boots and poncho, we listened wistfully to a lone piper playing Amazing Grace, the notes carrying across the lake from the barn. He turned up later, in the bar, taking the piss out of Sassenachs trying to blow a note out of his bagpipes, but only managing to make it sound like it looked - a pissed old man trying to inflate a dead haggis with a drinking straw. 
What is it about a Dragon Rally that makes folk wear stuff they couldn't wear anywhere in civilisation? At the time I thought this hat was bloody awesome...
We got talking to a fellow Sovieteer, Cameron, and his wife Amy. Turns out she owns a top cafe in Dalbeattie called the Granite Kitchen- got to be worth a look next time we're up that way.
Beer followed beer, followed chips and dogburger, more beer, and then....
we found ourselves in an empty bar ! Everyone upped and left, leaving us to prop the bar up.
When all the beer was gone, it was off to the sleeping bags.
Well, for most of us.
The PR Secretary put on all his bike gear, and led on his groundsheet, and dreamt of sleeping bags...
Funnily enough, it was raining the next morning as we broke camp.
Getting off was a bit slithery, the Grand Mahout got a 1 for a dab, the PR Secretary a 5 on the scooter, and your scribe cleaned the mud section, feet up.
Well, I was on a combination.
And off we went, splashing through puddles on the 100 mile home
Never again.
Until next year.
R.I.P. Ken Chaplin.

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