Ides of March Rally

The 54th Ides of March 2018

The Ides of March 2018 lived up to its reputation for extreme weather. It was fine, just a little bit windy when we arrived early Friday afternoon. The wind gradually built up though, and when the snow started it was horizontal and vertical, whipping across the campsite and the pub car park.

Of course in the pub none of this bothered us intrepid rallyists, with just an occasional look out of the window to see if the tent was still there, then back to more important things like whose round is it, and what were you up to last week and are you going up to Scotland next week?

Ted had nothing better to do at one o'clock in the morning than take snaps of motorbikes.

Then it was back to the tent past the poor frozen, snow encrusted bikes, it was about -5deg or so plus the wind chill. Pete Philps' Oil in Frame A65 which eventually won best bike looked particularly well covered.

We had a bit of a lie in and missed most of Saturday morning but after a late breakfast we saw that there was still a good dusting of snow but the car park had been scraped and salted by the club, and the road up to the Pub was cleared.

The forecast was for more snow that evening, so we decided that although Heather was on our outfit it might be a good idea to take the solo bike I had come to the Rally on the 25 miles or so back home and return to the rally just on our outfit. This turned out to be a good move as the wind strengthened and the snow turned into a blizzard. The people who had walked down to the nearby villages (to support their pub landlords!) who were planning to return up the hill by taxi had to trek up the rally site as the road back had become impassable by any vehicle less than a tractor.

Again we had a fine time at the Rally pub, watching the horizontal snow and, when you could see them, the wildly flapping tents. That night the function room was taken over by lots of refugees who had decided camping was no longer for them. We managed a cosy night in our Vango Force 10 tent, despite or maybe because the wind had blown a wall of snow between the flysheet and half way up the inner tent sides. On Sunday morning we were greeted by a two foot snowdrift in the extension which unfortunately included our cooking gear and, even worse, my bike boots.

We packed up all our gear in the tent and went to the pub for breakfast (along with everybody else it seemed) but the staff coped with the number of hungry people and fed us all eventually. I had thought I had been going to the Ides for a lot of years but Chris Horridge's comment that the last time it was this bad was his first one in 1968 put me in my place! Then it was the worst job, taking the frozen tent down in the teeth of a gale and rolling it up small enough to fit on the bike. We went back in to the pub to warm up and wait for rescue by a snowplough or gritter as the road down to the village was still blocked by snowdrifts and the steepest part of the hill covered in ice.

Eventually when all we had seen moving on the road was a JCB which was only packing the snow down more and creating great ruts in the drifts, Sammy Robinson set off on his K100 trike and after getting stuck a couple of times managed to be the first one away.

That was it then, time to go! I got the outfit fired up and moved off the car park which the Salford Centurions had managed to clear again. Then down the icy hill into the drifts. At the first clear bit I stopped to let Heather get into the sidecar (on pushing duty but not required!) and then carefully down the snowy and frozen track, to the main road which thankfully was clear. I understand that a gritter did eventually get up there but some people left their bikes and gear and made their way home by foot, train and bus. A number of people decided to make a long weekend of it and stay over Sunday night. Judging by the video on Facebook they had another good night!

Well done to the Salford Centurions for hosting a great rally in challenging conditions.

Looking forward to next year to see what the Ides brings for us to be wary of!!!

- Ted Trett