Friday, November 13, 2009

Dragon Rally 2009

As a bit of a leader to Dragon 2010 I suppose I should stick the little tale of this years Dragon Rally up.

Right, I shall start at the beginning. After I had such good fun last year, there was no way I was going to miss this year's Dragon. Alan had seen the photo's and heard the tales and was dead keen to join, we were also to be joined by Ben and Dan. Sadly Ben was firmly snowed in in Surrey, and Dan, coming from near Epping Forest, got as far as Reading on the Thursday night before carb icing put paid to his trip. You were missed guys.

Friday dawned with snow having fallen from about 11pm thursday night. Al and I contemplated the outdoor scene over bacon butties before we decided we should probably get going. This meant clearing the snow from the drive and from the shed so we could get the bikes out! Al bravely set to whilst I fannied around with the final packing.

Once underway, the worst part being getting out of New Inn especially as the melted snow on the road revealed a long pool of diesel, we made good progress with the roads being quite clear of people, after all who ventures out on a snowy friday for fun? A swift stop for a fried breakfast at the cafe at Cwmdu set us up and we pressed on. Not far from the cafe I spotted the mountains in my mirrors so pulled over for a photo opportunity.

and pretty much as Al was saying "it'd be lovely if the sky cleared", ahead of us it did.

Travelling along the A470 we didn't see much traffic, but the snow had stopped falling and we were just enjoying the views. Pausing at a set of roadworks I said to Al it'd be a good chance for a picture but there was nowhere to pull in. He promptly rode through the cones into the roadworks. Good plan! Tucked away in the bottom of the valley was a farmhouse, wonder if they had any sledges to make use of? Off again and the sky remained blue and the roads clear. As the valley opened out it seemed rude not to get a quick few snaps. Something continental about this one?

After heading into Aber and then finding it chocabloc with traffic we turned towards Machynlleth and pulled into the White Lion for a refreshing bevvy. We'd just missed the boys from the MZ club by 5 minutes, as we found out later.

Friday night was spent in a bunkhouse in Dolgellau, I have no pictures mainly because I was tipsy. Whoops.

So onto Saturday. We had met the MZ boys in the bunkhouse and they were all prepped and ready whilst I still minced about in my romper suit nursing a rough head and rougher bowels...

We set off a while after them and could see that there hadn't been much snow falling in the night. The Ten crept over the 1000 mile mark and a lay by turned up so we stopped for some more pics.

We'd decided to head over the Llanberis Pass through Snowdonia, but first we had to stop for another fried breakfast in Porthmadog. We'd caught up with the other boys and were starting to spot more bikes laden with camping kit. After finding the first cafe only did sausage baps we wandered on and found another that did a proper "full plate, sit down breakfast". Nyom.

Pressing on with our belly's full and warm we rode through Beddgelert and past the previous year's site. Time to brave the camera and get one with both of us in.

We were soon rising with the hills as the road threaded it's way towards the Pass and Snowdon. It was getting colder and icier too. Well in for a penny and all that. We made it over with no problems, but boy was it truly awesome seeing the mountain so close and so snowy. Down into Llanberis for a few more pics.

Pressing on and we got to the coast. We stopped by the Menai bridge for some more shots and Al found a bottle of piss masquerading as a bottle of white wine. Just an interesting side note you understand.

By now we were wondering where the snow had gone, even though the wind was a bit nippy. Over the bridge and onto Anglesey then down the back roads to find the control caravan to get our entry stickers and directions. The weather had obviously got bored with snow so we had hail instead at this point as the wind whipped across the fields.

Chatting to some scottish guys and one of them had a sweetly done SV650 dual sporter. Didn't have chance to get the finer points from him, but I thought it was quite tidy.

Not far to go to the site which was on the Trac Mon circuit and after some bike manouvering and measuring we got the tent up and sorted out. Just time to nip off to get some beer then ;) Alan enjoys the moment as the sun sets.

Once with beers in our hands we had a wonder round the site to see what was interesting there. The range of machinery there is always great, though I noticed this year there were less of the old boys with the brit stuff. An increase in sports bikes too, with even a new blade there luggaged up. Anyway we spotted a nice Sunbeam and after some discussion with another viewer we decided it was a 350. Actually he did by checking on the casings! I'd spotted a bright yellow DR earlier, subtley blending in with the background. Also lurking about were some people doing it the hard way, respect to them, kinda stylish too...

There's such a range of bikes there, this caféd Norton was sitting alongside a clean T140 and just out of shot was an NSR125 and a CBR125, both on L-plates.

Finally we came across this stunning Vincent, given the value of the bike, how many people do you know would be out on their D16s?

Then the drinking started in earnest and I packed the camera away safe, leaving only the mobile to grab a couple of pics of some of the fireworks

And Al in the beer tent.

That is Al, honest...the beer filter may have been applied to the camera. We retired at some point having drunk all the beers, shared a bottle of brandy with the MZ boys and chatted to a whole bunch of interesting characters. Back in the tent it was time to rustle up some food and we polished off some pasta n sauce with bread before turning in and listening to people discussing which one of them was Spartacus.

Finally sunday dawned and very pleasant it was too. By pleasant I mean not snowing, hailing or raining. Dry in fact would've been a better way of describing it. Oh and bitter. After the now routine taking of some pills and consumption of a snickers we broke camp, packed up and joined the other early risers heading out.

It was definitely colder and as we got off Anglesey the snow started again. There were plenty of walkers and the like about unloading their cars in lay-bys. Snowy lay-bys that I really didn't fancy my chances of stopping gracefully in, so we pulled over by the side of the road to snap some pics of Llyn Ogwen that was frozen over. It was feeling like we shouldn't be hanging around with the weather so after a quick snap more we moved on.

Stopping for breakfast in the Machninations cafe we polished off another hearty fried plateful and planned the rest of the route. Al was going to split off at Rhyader and head back to Bristol, and I was going to press on south. Not long after leaving the cafe the skies let us have some rain, then some sleet and it was really getting cold by the time we parted in Rhyader.

The rest of the trip felt a little lonelier as I didn't have the light of Al's bike glinting in my mirror, or the knowledge that if I binned it someone would be able to call for help. Funny how your mind works. I arrived home to a cup of tea and snow. Shattered, smelly, cold and hungry but bloody contented with my lot. Roll on next year.

1 comment:

  1. Nice write-up matey. I pretty much followed your route home, but by the time I got to rhyader and turned for Brecon the snow was comming down thick and fast. The A470 at Storey Arms was 1 lane wide and a total white out! Lovely :-) See you there next year.