Well done and a big "thank you" to everyone on this year's Kegworth team. It would be very easy for me to take their hard work and dependability for granted because it is so readily and cheerfully delivered. It is a characteristic that has not changed in all the years that I have known them. Their relaxed confidence is derived from thousands of miles motorcycling with a few spanners in a Belstaff pocket, a map torn from the back of a 1968 diary and justifed optimism. Ideal for the National Rally!
This year there were thirty four starters from Kegworth, partly because it is one of the Controls close to MIRA where the Platinum Award special tests are carried out during Saturday morning.
Peter Wright and Eric Tindall arrived early enough to commandeer an area of the car park and lay out the control while I was still thinking about it. They then collected all the Control cards and stamped them up ready for the 2 o'clock start. Bang on the dot they called out names for riders to sign the control sheets and collect their cards. Then, as the riders carefully began their 540 miles, we braced ourselves for the first arrivals from neighbouring Controls. The next 20 minutes were like the eye of the hurricane.
"How much did Ben get cleaning cars with that bucket?"
During Crow Watch we were visited by two past members. Gary Wilson looked in on the proceedings with the air of an alcoholic nipping into the pub. "You sold your soul to us years ago: Give in to the bike side."
Dave Smith came through on a superb Ducati - which is my excuse for not recognising him! Dave had time for a few cheery words before continuing another epic National. Dave was trying to keep up with the new owner of his Triumph, a chap named Paul Bradshaw, known as "Brad" to his friends and "son" to Wally.
Our travelling marshal, Alan Penny also looked in to check that the team were not allowing me to make a shambles of the control.
Crow Watch saw well over a hundred riders on their way with the efficiency that was a mark of the whole event.
The Owl Watch arrived mob handed and stamped their own character on the control. Mary Grant and Carol Evans had spent the morning baking cakes, biscuits and cheese straws for the competitiors to bolt down as they passed through - if the marshals left any. John Evans fired up a gas stove to brew up a nice cuppa. Before I left the control to their tender mercies I tried (unsuccessfully) to elicit a promise from Terry Riddle and Rob Winnett that they would desist from singing and doing cartwheels. I left singing the chorus to "Harry Was A Bolshi" and was soon tucked up in my own bed with Teddy.
I think it was during Owl Watch that Andrew Grant stormed through on his Triumph with just enough time to wink at his missus before
"Terry and I did manage to get a few verses in while finishing off the cheese straws, but neither of us is capable of cartwheels any more.
- Rob Winnett
Steve White, who had successfully run the control in 2008, called in to check that the OwlBat hand over had gone smoothly and to pick up any loose change left on the ground after impromptu cartwheels.
There was almost a hiccup with Bat Watch. One marshal dodged out but at least let me know a few hours before hand. I had also been unable to get a confirmation from Dave Scattergood that he would be on duty. I was just trying to decide whether to concertina the previous and following watches or to call out the Hawk Watch (reserves) Steve White and John Ireland when Dave phoned to say he had "Just arrived home from Devon and is the rally this weekend?" A kinder person would have let him off but it made my life easier to say "Yes and you are due on duty at 10.30 tonight!" All credit to him he went and he had to pay to park for the pleasure of it!
Dave Scattergood and Ian Goodson easily handled the night creatures who arrived between eleven Saturday night and three o'clock Sunday morning. One problem that the darkness watches had to cope with was ... er ... darkness. We had set up control on the grass with the prospect of moving ten metres to be under a lamp column later. But the lamp didn't work and rather than move a hundred metres to the next lamp they made do with torches. When I arrived for the Lark Watch I was pressed into work imitating the Statue of Liberty with an LED torch. Well, they had to get me to do summat as I only filled in one card through the whole event and never heard anybody call me a lazy old git (They may have said "lazy old deaf git")
At about this time, all across the country, tired and stiff motorcycle riders were thinking the same thing they think at this time every year ... "Never again!" while other dedicated souls, like Rachel and Sacha Crossley, Peter Bromberg, Michelle and Wally Bradshaw, are strugging from their warm pits to man (and woman) the final control.
Any-road-up, Antony Riozzi was also marshalling on the Lark Watch and brought along his pals as reinforcements. To practice staying awake they had stayed up all night and as practice for being future Phoenix members they brought their beer with them. I cannot remember being a drunken dirty stopout when I was younger ("Lazy old deaf and forgetful git.") Driver Antony had avoided the hooch and so we trusted him with the Cards and the arithmatic. They stuck it out until an hour before the Control closed which meant they saw the last participants on their way since there was no-one else through Kegworth after that. The lads then wended their weary way to the next party as the morning sun tried to squint its bloodshot eye out from under a blanket of low cloud. Bah, kids!
At the other end of the age scale, if he doesn't mind me saying, was Tony Bradley our stalwart site steward who remained at the control throughout the whole eighteen hours providing logistic support and continuity with his camper van. Fortunately the weather was much kinder than last year so we didn't need to make use of his hospitality to dry out and warm up. I think it would be deserving for Tony to have safe-keeping of the Control plaque to blue-tack somewhere appropriate in his camper van, possibly the loo door. I mean no disrespect.
So once again, Thank You to everyone for your individual, unique and vital contributions. It is easy to suppose we can cope without someone, but everyone played a part in keeping me from buggering up the Control Cards.
My apologies to the rider whose card I did fill in.
"Lazy old deaf forgetful incontinent incompetent and grateful git."
See photos of riders passing through Kegworth Control and a report from competitor Dave Smith.
Well laid out and informative, good pics, done with a g.s.o.h.