06th Aug 2010 - 08th Aug 2010 South of England Rally
South of England Rally
Bisley, UK, August – **NEARLY SOLD OUT**
REVIEW 2009: South for the summer
The thunderous sound of Harley-Davidson® Motorcycles drowned out the sound of the band playing on the lawn in front of the Shooters Bar. The sun beat down and everyone was walking around with a big smile on their face. Such was the mood at this year’s South Of England Rally!
Now an annual event, this year’s Rally was jointly organised by five H.O.G® chapters: 1066, Hogsback, Invicta, Thames Valley and Oxford. Set in the picturesque Surrey countryside at Bisley’s National Shooting Centre, it once again proved its worth as an ideal motorcycle rally site. There’s plenty of camping space for large tents and chalets for those who don’t fancy roughing it.
It was 5pm on that first day and the Ladies of Harley® assembled at Marjorie Foster’s Way for the Mamma Mia rideout, in which both bikes and riders roared up resplendent in sequins and feather boas, honouring the theme of the ride. With 40 bikes raring to go, as they set off the relaxed Bisley afternoon atmosphere was shattered. Riding through the area’s country lanes, taking in the beautiful scenery and getting stuck into some great twisty roads, the girls headed towards the arranged rendezvous - the Guildford Harley-Davidson Dealership – where they stopped for drinks, snacks, and of course a chance to peruse the bikes and grab a little shopping time.
The return journey took in Guildford town centre, drawing curious locals out of shops and houses to wave and watch the procession roll by. The whole event was expertly controlled by the Road Marshalls. Back on site, the Agnethas and Friedas reunited over a drink for an ABBA sing-a-long, receiving rousing cheers from the assembled crowd.
By Friday evening, the smell from the Hog Roast wagon drifting through the air, Bisley Pavillion was heaving. Live music from Live and Kickin got the audience up and dancing on the grass. The beer was flowing! A quick walk around also revealed that LED lights are a must this year for accessorising your bike.
The Pavillion Ballroom filled up as tribute band Rollin’ Stoned took to the stage. They knocked out classic Stones songs with an energy that the originals might find hard to muster these days. Needless to say, the crowd loved them. They were the band of the weekend without a doubt. What a kicking end to the first day!
Saturday morning broke – it was chapter challenge day. Various events ran throughout – the non-motorcycle games included Pistol Shooting, an assault course, Bungee Run, Human Demolition Zone and a mechanical bull. The motorcycle games, classic favourites, included The Poker Run, Hog Sticking, Slow Ride with pillion and Bike Wash. There was a slightly dazed air following the previous night’s celebrations, but the option of two rideouts today helped to blow away the cobwebs.
The sun was even hotter than the previous day, and on the exhibition lawn the ride-in bike show generated a lot of interest. In line with the rally’s tradition, the public were encouraged to vote in the People’s Choice class by dropping any spare change into a bucket beside their favourite bike, with the most money collected being announced the winner. All proceeds from this collection are to be donated to the Surrey Air Ambulance.
The atmosphere gave an adrenaline-fuelled lurch later that day, as two drill sergeants, armed with large sticks, stoof on Kings Way and bellowed across the tents scattered across the Sergeant’s Mess Field.
People started to gather on the road as men and women, dressed in variously mis-matched combats and camouflage fatigues, staggered out of the field to form a disorderly line. Full Metal Jacket this wasn’t – every year Nene Valley Chapter good-naturedly put themselves through a platoon drill to raise money to support our armed forces.
They are shouted at, told to do press ups and have to salute as the commanding officer drives by. Two couples are picked out and have to declare their wedding vows at full volume in front of the assembled multitude. After this display, the temporary troops were marched off to parade in front of Shooter’s Bar, before being treated to a free show in the Wall Of Death, in honour of the execution of their duties.
As the sky began to darken, rally-goers gathered to watch the rally firework display light up the evening, before the prizes for the chapter challenge were presented. This year’s winners, with 400 points are Nene Valley, followed in second place by Invicta with 350 points. With 325 points each, third place is shared by 1066 and Hogsback chapters. Tied in fourth place are Oxford and New Forest. In fifth, Aire Valley and finally the sixth and final place gets shared by Bridgwater and Birmingham chapters.
Well done to everyone for taking part and to the five organising chapters for putting on one of the best run, most laid-back and enjoyable motorcycle rallies in the UK.
Special shout-out goes to the Hogsback chapter for making me welcome and inviting me to a fantastic barbecue on Saturday. Cheers guys.
Looking forward to next year? You betcha! Ride free.
By Dan O’Gara
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