What is a motorcycle rally?
What are the biggest biker rallies?
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Daytona Bike Week, Laconia Motorcycle Week, Myrtle Beach Bike Week are all huge Bike Rallies based in the United States but here in the UK we have our own Bike Rally scene so we have put together our own guide to help you maximise the fun.
If you don't party like you used to, or your social life is just not what it was, then waiting for the spring and the start of the Bike Rally season can sometimes feel like an eternity, but when it arrives you wanna fill your boots, let your hair down even if you already have long hair that is already down (Well you know what I mean).
Rally season is a chance for all bikers to spend a few days away from home in the company of other...well, men really. Which leads me to my first point. We don't see as many women folk at the rallies as we would like. The whole scene is a very masculine, male dominated arena of denim, leather and beards where the smell of oil, beer and sweat fills the air. Am I selling it to the female readers of this blog? Probably not but my point is we need more women at the rallies. Women like to party just as much as men but are a bit more partial to home comforts than men are. Anyhow I have put together what I think is the essence of the Bike Rally from the journey there to the journey home, so let's start the day before.
What to take
This is a tricky decision because obviously when on a motorcycle space is main concern especially if you have a passenger as that means twice as much equipment has to go with you.
What things are important?
Well you're going to need a tent as this is going to be your home at least for a couple of days. If you are going by yourself then I recommend a 2 man tent as a one man tent doesn't leave much room for anything else, and for those single men that are lucky enough to meet a single women at a rally, having enough room to roll about is a definite bonus. If there are two of you making the journey then get a 3 man tent. The extra space is a real help when getting ready on a morning especially if it is raining outside.
Anyone who has shared a tent with their wife or girlfriend who is trying to get ready the same time as you knows this can be a painful time and not just mentally, sometimes physically.
Trying to put on a big pair of motorcycle boots in a tent can sometimes result in you trying to force your foot into a boot and your hands slipping off and accidentally booting your better half in the face resulting in her firstly yelping in agony, then taking her revenge making you yelp in agony. When she then checks her face in the mirror and sees that she has a black eye which again results in her attacking you for a second time you realise that the weekend might be not as much fun as you were hoping for.
Obviously there will be the constant insults and put downs that she will hurl in your direction for the remainder of the weekend and the comments and suspicion that will arise when you do return home. 'Do you think he beats her'? Believe me I know all this from experience so please, purchase a decent sized tent.
You need a half decent sleeping bag with a zip that won't get stuck when you have zipped yourself in which might result in you not being able to get yourself out of the bag at four in the morning when nature is knocking loudly on you extremely swollen bladder.
Which leads me swiftly to another very important item to take along with you. Yes that's right an extra pair of jeans, as sitting around all day in your tent waiting for the very large piss stain to dry so that you can go and join your mates for a fun filled day is not what you purchased your ticket for. I cannot stress the importance of taking an extra pair of jeans with you, as the saying goes 'You never know when your gonna shit yourself'.
That's right it's not usually something that springs to mind when you wake up in the morning 'I wonder if I will shit myself today'? But as we all know it happens when you least likely expect it and usually at the most inconvenient times, so if the worst does happen at least you can sort yourself out and re join the fun and games.
Usually it is the people that take an extra pair of strides with them that never suffer this misfortune so be warned my one trousered travellers and take it from a man that knows by bitter experience what he is talking about.
This is easy as you will always need paracetamol for your over indulgence on the previous night. I suggest some plasters just in case you have to repair your fingers after tinkering around with your bike and with regards to the previous paragraph some Diacom to cure you rancid, upset stomach from the burger that you knew didn't taste right but you ate anyway.
I would also recommend a roll out sleeping mat just to give your old back a bit of extra protection from the cold hard ground as you know you will pitch your tent on top of some protruding stones that you didn't see and won't notice until you get into your sleeping bag.
Apart from your money and toothbrush which are the obvious essentials that is basically it but as with all great plans there will always be something that you wished you had brought with you.
The Journey There
You've been checking the weather forecast for a week now and your fingers and legs have been crossed hoping for good weather. Regardless of the weather you have already purchased the tickets which cost you sixty quid so like all men once you've paid you are not going to waste money, so you're going! Try and get a good night's sleep before you set off because you ain't gonna get one over the weekend!
Before you set off do all your basic maintenance and safety checks then head off to the petrol station to fill up. Sometimes bikers will travel to the other end of the country to attend some of the bigger motorcycle rallies so it is a good idea to plan your route and time schedule especially if there are a few of you riding together. Have a few stops planned for food, drink and toilet stops. Take your time. Apart from motorways cops, other shit car drivers, mechanical problems etc travelling at high speeds especially when fatigued can result in serious damage to you and your bike and sometimes, sadly in death. So steady away guys!
Setting up your tent
Right, we have found the site and all we have to do now is park up and set up the tent. This is not always as straight forward as you might think.
Finding the best spots needs a bit of forward thinking, for instance; You don't want to pitch on uneven ground as you will find yourself rolling to one side of tent all night. Also the area needs to be free of stones and rocks left by the ancients that will certainly hinder your chances of a comfortable night's sleep.
You don't want to be anywhere where the ground maybe damp and also not too close to the perimeters of the field where lazy drunken men will piss as the damp ground will be the least of your worries. Being close to the toilets is a good idea, but not too close as the smell of hundreds or thousands of (Well you know) wafting into your unzipped tent can be a bit of a stomach turner or passion killer if you are on a promise.
Camping next to what look like a quiet young group of bikers sounds like a good idea only to find that the reason that they were so quiet is that they were not yet hyped up on speed and ecstasy and playing Megadeath or some other music that you basically will hate until the very early morning when you decide to get up just as they are turning in.
So there's quite a bit to ponder when choosing a suitable place to pitch.
Oh yes the great British summer, always ready to disappoint. How come it is only ever sunny through the week when we are at work. You can have brilliant weather all week and then Friday 4pm comes and it all turns to shit! Prepare for bad weather as there is nothing worse than a wet, cold, muddy motorcycle rally. At least take some waterproofs just in case.
Men don't go to find women at bike rallies this rarely or never happens. Men go to rallies to do men things that they can't get away with at home. We will drink as much as we can handle, and usually more than we can handle, we will eat all of the foods that we are not allowed at home as usually our wives are looking after our health, we will tell filthy jokes, maybe smoke a bit of weed, dance like we did when we were 17 but with a lot less vigour and for only a third of the amount of time.
We will fall over drunk, lose our valuables, fall into our sleeping bags then get up the next morning to a lager and chip breakfast and do the whole thing again. Real freedom, what a joy!
What is at the rally?
This is a question that is real easy to answer as all rallies are pretty much the same. We have the beer tent, the food stalls, the music tent, the bike show so that everyone can view and score your masterpiece of work and as we all know there are some real works of art that even Michael Angelo would put his name to.
Apart from the side shows which usually include the hammer swing sometimes known as a high striker, strength tester, or strongman game which entails you trying to hit an object as hard as possible so you can ring a bell at the top. I always find it amusing to watch big, heavy, grown men trying to fulfil their manhood by ringing the damn bell and failing miserably and wondering how they can be so weak especially when I skinny guy like myself comes along and rings it first time every time.
Well guys it's really quite simple there is a knack to it which I am not going to tell you as it makes me look far superior to you when I win and you fail.
No self respecting rally would be complete without the music. The majority of the motorcycle rallies will usually have a local up and coming band and a headliner which usually consists of a tribute band. Once upon a time there would only be ROCK BANDS but nowadays you will find middle aged bikers jumping around to the sounds of their youth which could the likes of Punk, Ska as well as the obvious... Heavy Metal!!! The DJs will fill the gaps of the night with the gods of the heavy metal scene like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Motorhead, Led Zepplin, Metallica etc.
But oh how things have changed as a lot of rallies now have the obligatory Dance Tent..... Yes you heard me right the Dance Tent! No more music snobbery as even Bikers now like to Rave and jump around to Techno, and I say It's about time. Feel the rush up your spine and dance to the tribal 4/4 rhythm to your hearts content. Do whatever you need to do to feel enlightened (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink know what I mean) as long as you have a good time then no one's complaining.
Food and Drink
I wouldn't say that there's much gourmet cooking at Rallies but you can always rely on the standard Hog Rost, Burgers and chips, Jacket potatoes, Pizzas, Ice creams if you are lucky enough to have nice weather and Tea/coffee. What more can a person want?
One thing to take into account if you are used to eating 4 times a day and filling the eating gaps with drinking large amounts of alcohol then you are advised to take along plenty of cash as things aren't cheap and they don't take credit cards! Which takes me to the next point.
Imagine 500 people eating and drinking all day and then imagine maybe ten porta loos. Yes that's right they don't stay sweet smelling and clean for very long. Anyone who has been to festivals and rallies will all have their own nightmare stories of the dreaded porta loos.
The easy way to deal with these enclosures of doom is really quite simple, wait until you really need to go (But don't leave it too late otherwise you might end up in a long queue and believe me no one is going to readily give up there long waited position so you can go before them, and this could result in you have to go and change into the spare trousers that you remembered to bring with you).
Just before you enter take a deep breath of clean summer air, once you are inside quickly use the toilet paper to clean the piss off the seat that the dirty bastard who went in before who couldn't be bothered to lift it up before commencing relieving his bladder of its contents. Sit down, do your business quickly, wipe your arse, flush, wash your hands and get out as quickly as possible. If you are lucky this mission can be accomplished before you have to inhale again.
Don't try and get away with just hovering over the toilet as this usually results in many nasty accidents like leaving a pinnacle turd on the toilet seat or accidentally dropping it into your trousers that are around your knees or ankles.
Be aware that sometimes things do not go as planned in Porta loos here are few examples learned by myself over the years.
1. Always and I repeat ALWAYS have spare toilet paper in your pocket at all times in case of emergencies like a big queue and you know you have to make a hasty retreat to the bushes. Or after standing in line and getting into the toilet just as you are ready to burst only to find there is no toilet paper you are left with a few decisions, you can try and suck it back in which unless you have the abdominal muscles of an Olympic sprinter it won't work, make a hasty retreat back outside and hope someone will take pity on you due to the look of sheer desperation on your face (But don't count on it) Shit yourself in front of all and sundry (Not a good look) or basically sit down anyway and do what you have to do and worry about it when you have finished. The latter usually involves taking off your socks to wipe your arse but be warned the socks don't flush away very easily and might need a bit of manual help. Oh yeah, always take a spare pair of socks as well.
As you can expect after a weekend of self indulgence the journey home will not be a pleasant one. You can almost guarantee that the worse you feel the worse the weather will be. If it's raining in your heart you can count on it raining on your head.
Tiredness, dehydration and generally feeling like shit does not make for a good journey home. Couple this with road works, traffic jams adverse weather conditions and a hell of a lot of miles between you and your comfortable home and it can really feel like the journey to hell.
My suggestions are you hang around have some breakfast or lunch before heading off. Be alert, don't speed, have plenty of pit stops and you will make it home in one piece and by the following weekend you will be dreaming about hopping on the Iron Horse and doing it all again.
Peace out people