Pilgrims Rally

46th Pilgrims Rally, August 2023.

After registering with Mayflower MCC, booking the ferry and the hotel on the return journey, all participants looked expectantly towards August.

Axel Bodeit and his wife Bettina (BMW K100LT) drove through the Eurotunnel to England a day earlier than us, on Thursday, 3 August.

On Friday, 4 August, the following motorcyclists met for the tour of England at 5:30 a.m.: Walter Trappe, (BMW R1200GS), Hans Mondorf (BMW K100RS), Arno Kistenich (BMW K100RS) and Thorsten Bodeit (BMW R1200GS). At the St Ghislain motorway service station in Belgium, we once again met Heiko Werner (KTM 1190 Adventure) from Trier and drove with him to the port in Calais.

Once we arrived at the new port area, the first check was carried out by the ferry company P&O. The employee asked me for my passport and booking number. It flashed through my body like lightning. Like the 33 years before, I had packed my documents, but had forgotten my passport. This employee, as well as the employee at the next stop at French customs, were happy with my ID card. But then, at the last stop at the English immigration authorities, it was over. The lady told me in a friendly but firm manner that since the Brexit regulations it is no longer possible to enter UK without a passport. She kept my ID card and ferry ticket. I was able to quickly clarify with Walter which tent he would sleep in that night because I had loaded our tent onto my motorcycle. I was accompanied to an office by two French customs officers. There I was put in a cordoned off area. Saying someone would be with me in a few minutes, the two officers disappeared. The "few minutes" turned into 1 hour. Then a gentleman in a "guards uniform" came and explained to me again in a friendly manner that it was not possible to enter the UK without a passport. Afterwards, two French police officers came and escorted me and my motorcycle out of the customs area. Here I received my ID card and ferry ticket back, which had now expired.

During the hour of waiting it was determined that I wasn't going to let my own mistake ruin this weekend. What other choice did I have than to drive the 450 km back home. When I got there, I first filled the tank at a petrol station and parked the motorcycle in my barn. The next step was to get to the computer. I booked a new ferry passage there for Saturday noon. This was followed by dinner with the family and then off to bed.

My motorcycling friends, now in a good mood after drinking a few pints of beer, called at my home to ask if I had arrived there safely. My wife Ute explained to them on the phone that I was in bed and the motorcycle was already packed with a full tank and that I would come along on Saturday.

Saturday morning at 5.30 am I departed for Calais. Until there I made it without any rain. And low and behold, I had no problems during the controls at the port thanks to the passport I had with me.

It started to rain during the crossing. When I arrived in England, I had a loyal companion during the 280 km to the destination. Rain. Sometimes heavy, sometimes drizzling, but steadily. When I arrived at the venue, my motorcycle friends leaped out of their tents.

Left to right: Hans Mondorf, Heiko Werner, Walter Trappe, Arno Kistenich, Axel Bodeit, Bettina Bodeit, Thorsten Bodeit.

Last year, Arno and Axel spent lunchtime in the local pub and Arno drank "a few" pints of Guinness during his visit. This year everyone in our group went there for lunch because of the rain. The innkeeper immediately recognized Arno and greeted him with "hello Mr. Guinness man".

After lunch with a few pints of beer in the pub, everyone retreated to their tents for a short nap.

Thanks to everyone's help, my tent was put up in no time. Unfortunately, I missed the local housewives with the tasty cakes and jam due to my late arrival.

After a refreshment at the food truck, we went into the hall to enjoy delicious beer and a great live band. Thorsten received the prize for "Long Distance Overseas" in the evening. I received an award for "Spirit of the Rally" because of my mishap with my passport.

Since I was still happy to be able to take part in the rally despite everything, I think I drank a pint or two too many. The beer had to be disposed during the night. I held on to the tent pole when I got up from the air mattress. However, it suffered from old age and broke. Walter, who was now sleeping next to me, said I wanted to do a "pole dance". He helped me fix the tent pole with two tent pegs and tape. That lasted until the next time I had to get up. The same repair procedure again, which lasted until it was dismantled in the morning. I ate my breakfast with little appetite.

Thorsten rode to the Eurotunnel early in the morning. He wanted to be home on Sunday evening because his son went to school for the first time on Monday morning.

After breakfast at the food truck, everyone else drove via the motorway to Aylesford for the "International West Kent Run". We took a break there and made a tour of the extensive grounds. There were, once again, many beautiful Classic motorcycles of all brands to be admired. From here we drove on to Dover.

This time we checked in at the Premier Inn Hotel above Dover at the beginning of the A2. The hotel that we had booked the years before had increased its prices steeply.

There was a restaurant 200 yards from the hotel where we spent the evening with delicious food and a few pints of beer.

On Monday morning we also had our beloved last English breakfast in this restaurant, which we had booked from the hotel.

For me, despite all the effort and trouble, it was a nice weekend with a total of over 2,400 km from Friday to Monday.

There were no technical problems on the journey to UK and back.

- Hans Mondorf