MAG Western Region
9th - 11th April. 2004.
Here we go again, another nice sunny Friday, everything loaded up and ready for the off. What could possibly go wrong ? Well, the first little problem was Kath's Ducati ( not the one that's being eaten by rats, but that's another story ) which decided it wanted a bit of attention in the battery department. So we sat happily drinking coffee whilst waiting for the battery charger to do what battery chargers do best. A prod on the button, and the Ducati was coaxed into life - next stop, the petrol station. I looked at my fuel gauge and decided I could easily make the next 70 or 80 miles before needing fuel, so I waited on the road whilst the others filled up. Our little convoy headed out of the built up areas and onto the A 449 where we could make decent progress. I wound the trike up to overtake the slower moving traffic and the thing decided now would be a good time to lose power. Oh dear, pull in at the side of the road time and check things over.
The ignition system was sparking like a good 'un. The fuel gauge said there was nearly half a tank. I took a closer look at the fuel line, it appeared the fuel filter was empty. Ah - have a listen for petrol sloshing around in the tank - that sounded ominously quiet. OK - so my fuel gauge is faulty and I'm out of petrol. Soon cure that one. One of our merry band, Ken, was despatched in the direction of the nearest garage. One new petrol can and a gallon of BP's finest later, and we were off. .......... for all of 200 yards, when the thing stopped again. Right - let's whip the fuel pump off - that seems in order. Let's check the fuel pipe from the tank - oh dear, it seems to be blocked. Nothing that a good set of lungs won't shift, so I promptly blew back up the fuel line. Success ! Petrol could now flow happily to the fuel pump. ............ it was a pity that I'd now flattened the battery trying to start the thing, and being an automatic it meant that bump starting it was out of the question. Luckily the "dog kennel" happens to have a 12 volt car battery on board, so with much cussing I removed the battery from the kennel and went to fit it on the trike. Arghh - I had every size spanner except the one I needed, but ain't that always the way ? With a bit of struggling I got the trike running again, and we were once more on our merry way. The nasty little fuel Gremlin struck another twice before we got to the rally site, the one time being slap bang in the middle of Ledbury High Street. I bet that caused a few muttered curses from the cars following us.
The rest of the journey was most enjoyable. Over the top of the Malvern Hills, down into Ross on Wye, then through the Forest of Dean and on to the rally site, just outside of Lydney.
Having done a fair few Duk Dik rallies in the past, I was quite surprised last year when they held it on a site that was fairly flat. It had always been a standing joke that the Duk Dik rally was held on a hillside, preferably with lots of mud just for good measure. This year they had gone back to the hillside practice. Ok - so you had a grand view of the Severn estuary, but it meant sliding out of your tent. This site would become almost impossible to ride a bike off should the weather turn to rain. Anyway, despite a few little setbacks, we had arrived and we soon had everything set up, camp wise, and went off in search of food. Thanks to "Munchies" food wagon we were soon fed, and excellent grub it was too - and reasonably priced, nice one Munchies, it was appreciated. The rest of Friday was spent in the infamous "Slippitt Inn" - which as per normal was selling real beer, as opposed to this nitrogen keg, Eurofizz rubbish. A few pints of Uley "Old Spot" was just the thing I needed. . . and at less than £ 2 a pint folks could afford a quality hangover. ................. .and so to bed.
Saturday morning, and my first job was to whip the fuel pickup pipe out of the trike's tank and take a good look inside. Nope - the inside of the tank was very clean indeed, the only possible cause could have been the plastic "top hat" on the end of the pipe sliding down enough to touch the bottom of the tank and getting held there by the suction of the fuel pump. We soon cured that by cutting a large vee in the side of it - that way it can't create a vacuum and stick. That seemed to have cured the problem seeing has it hasn't done it since ( crosses fingers ).
Today seemed a good day for a scenic tour of the area, so off we all went in the direction of Chepstow. We abandoned our various vehicles in Tesco's car park and wandered off into the town - looking for food, as per normal. Oops - guess who, in his eagerness to explore the insides of his fuel tank, had forgotten to pick up his wallet ? Yes - I had once again managed to arrive without a penny to my name. Good job some of our more wetitlehy members could lend me a tenner. Thanks Ken - you're a star ;-)
Having fed, the plan was to take the road from Chepstow to Monmouth, via Tintern Abbey ( A 466 ) as this is an excellent biking road. The trike had other ideas and promptly refused to start. This is getting to be a habit. This time it was a broken low tension wire between the coil and the ignition unit. A bit of furtive wiggling and away it would go, with the occasional bout of misfiring just to remind you that it needs fixing as soon as possible ( I rewired the ignition circuit as soon as I got back home ).
We just had to stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake - it wouldn't be a ride out if we didn't. From Tintern we carried on to Symonds Yat, then cut through the forest again back to the rally site.
Saturday night was just as enjoyable as Friday night - with the added bonus of Stevie and his mandolin thrown in for good measure.
Sunday morning, and we took a stroll around the site. Well, a stroll up and down the site to be more accurate. The one thing about this rally is the diversity of bikes / trikes that turn up. There's everything from race replicas to rats, with most other things in between. Some of the paint work on these machines has to be seen to be appreciated - I'm afraid photographs don't come close to doing it justice.
By now, the one side of the field was getting well slippery, with one or two folks having real trouble trying to ride off. Luckily, as folks were packing their tents away and left, it meant there was more "virgin" grass to ride over. As I said earlier - if it had rained then there would have been problems.
We were in no great hurry to pack away, so we just had a leisurely sit about until most folks had left.
Our plan for today was to head North and join the rest of the Moonshiners who were camping at the Engine and Tender, in Broome, some 75 miles away. Apart from losing half of our convoy somewhere in Hereford, the plan went well, even the trike behaved after a fashion. We weren't too concerned over our missing members, they knew where they were heading. As it happened, they took the faster route along the A 49, whilst we trundled along the back roads, but there was still only about 10 minutes between us at the end. In true Moonshiner fashion, we headed for the cafe before continuing the last four miles to the E & T.
Now it just so happened that there was a feral hairpiece lurking in the pub - this abysmal wig attacked several folks before the terrifying toupee was finally captured and put out of it's misery - but I have a feeling it will be back.
the terrifying toupee strikes again
To the coast - this a way
Bank holiday Monday, and most of our lot were
packing up and heading home. That left three intrepid
Moonshiners, on three intrepid ( insipid, more like ) trikes, so
what better excuse is there for a trip to the coast ?
A delightful scenic tour going over the top of the hill at Dinas Mawddwy, then along the estuary to Barmouth, where we did the seaside thing, which involves food and drink, before heading back along the back roads towards the E & T.
Fifteen wheels on my wagons
Tuesday morning saw us packed up and ready to head back home. The trike had covered 400 plus miles, with more than it's fair share of problems, which have now hopefully been corrected. The MAG rally was most enjoyable apart from that sloping site, which to be honest, will prevent me from going again next year if it's held at the same site, but that aside, a most pleasing weekend away, and after all, ain't that what it's all about ?