It may come as a surprise to people who go to the GPO Rally nowadays, but it used to be held in the Springtime in its early years. Later on, when the BBBMCC decided to hold a Winter rally as well, (Firkin O'Bitter, in February), they moved the GPO to October so as to space the two out over the year and give themselves a chance to concentrate on one at a time. Those who went to the 1st GPO may have thought it was their Winter rally rather than one held nearly over the Easter weekend, due to the blizzard which swept over the area Saturday night.
THE BARREL BIKERS BUCKS.
Welcome to the Ist G. P. O. Rally, which stands for Generally Pissed Off which was the attitude of all of club members over the winter except eight of us who were stupid enough to think that we could run a rally ourselves. The fairweathre Bikers? among us are now out and about here at the rally- lazy b------s. To the left of the rally site lies Bletchley which is a small town with nothing going for it except the fact that Arthur Mayle has a Motorcycle shop which caters for the British Bike Owners amongst us, it is an excellent shop which carries lots of spares for Brit iron and also has a good workshop so if you need bits you know where to go. Mr Mayle has also kindly donated a Trophy for the best Brit Bike of the rally which he will probably come and judge himself. To the right of the site is Leighton Buzzard which is also small but has 32 pubs and endless fish & chip shops, Chinese take-a-ways, hamburger floggers etc. If you venture past Bletchley and carry on for 5 miles or so you will end up at the new Milton Keynse (OOPS) shoppong centre which is quite impressive and has a good Saturday market and a McDonalds which gives away silly hats and aeroplanes with their beefburgers if you ask for them. (300 silly hats?) We hope have a good time but if you dont then dont bother to complain as all our Marshalls will be to pissed to take any notice. Remember the theme of the rally? PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER BBBMCC. P.S. You cant get your money back either.
The weekend was never going to be full of sunshine and smiles, the weather didn't get much better than drizzly throughout the Friday and intermittently damp throughout the Saturday. The field had a concrete access track along the side, which lulled you into a false sense of security on arrival, the ground being only a bit muddy, yet still firm enough to hold the tent pegs in place. This was a good thing since I had got myself a new tent and it did away with the ridgepole, requiring tension between the guy ropes at each end to keep the roof up. The party in the marquee was reasonably lively, the disco pumping out all the stuff we liked to hear and I think a good time was had by all.
On the Saturday, despite the weather, my club decided to have a quick trip into Bletchley, if only for a change of scenery - the weather was the same there as back at the site. We came back in the afternoon and watched the games, then sat around our meagre bonfire, waiting for the evening party to start. When it started snowing (in April!) a couple gave up and went to bed early. The more hardy amongst us went to the marquee for a while, but even the marquee was a bit too cold for an extended party, so many more gave up earlier than we would normally have done.
Recognise anyone? Even without visible faces, it may be possible to identify people from 30 odd years ago. See Mark Mingay's comment below.
Back in my tent, the design 'improvement' was displaying why other manufacturers hadn't taken it up. Water was getting in from the top, not too much, but enough to stop me sleeping. I managed to divert most of the drips over to one side of the tent and keep myself on the other. The snow outside was falling on the sides and end, making them bow inwards quite a bit. I left the tent for a while and took temporary refuge in the portaloo. This was not suitable to spend the night so I left the sanctuary and wandered over to the control cabin - they were using a small workman's hut, (the type you don't see anymore), with a paraffin heater going full blast - and no ventilation! (Apparently headaches all round by the morning.) After thawing out a bit, I went back to my sodden tent, put on all my waterproofs and tried to get a bit of rest for the morning.
On Sunday, the field looked like the Antarctic! Snow covering the whole area, with bumps where there had been tents and bikes. After clearing the stuff off our gear, loading the bikes was relatively normal. Getting the bikes back on the concrete track to leave, however, took a bit of a team effort. At least that weekend not too many bikes had trouble starting. Although the trip home was only around 50-60 miles, we couldn't go very far before the cold forced us to stop at a Little Chef for coffee and a bit of a warm-up. Other than that, it was plain sailing to home. (Apart from the little finger on my left hand, which went numb from the cold and stayed so for several weeks afterwards.)
On the whole it was a good rally, especially as it was the Barrel Bikers' first, spoiled only by the weather, (and, on a personal level, the massive failure of my tent). Obviously both these factors were beyond the control of the organisers.
- Phil (the Spill) Drackley
Well I believe that is a photo of me in the first set with the Bedford Eagle sweat shirt. The unusual position is probably due to the Bedford Eagle Obscene Dance Troupe in full swing. Not something I do now as I would do myself a mischief.
- Mark Mingay