Well, this type of posts get a bit repetitive. But this year has been quite a successful one.
Again, my SPOT stopped working. Hm, maybe I should get a batch of NEW batteries for a change….
We all set off at 9 a.m. yesterday morning in Cambridge. 36 riders, many of them novices, had prepared their plans for this 8 hours rally. This was possible as the rally book was issued to the participants two weeks ago. As this rally was designed to attract new people for this type of rallies, the “veterans” from previous IBA UK rallies received a handicap. How much? Mark, the rallymaster did not want to reveal this before the rally. And I had already chosen my 1985 XBR 500 for this rally. Shouldn’t this be enough handicap? This was not demotivating at all, quite the contrary. Key elements of my plan were: except along the coastline, quick roads with little delays. A basic route with optional points. Perfect little bike for cities and winding country roads, keeping delays in crowded cities to a minimum. Avoiding sucker bonuses this time. Two short fuel stops. Keeping food uptake to a minimum. Keeping luggage to a minimum à la Phil Weston. My buddy John Young had promised to take his 1969 Triumph Trident, so I had my “newest” XBR made ready, including the technical inspection (MOT/TÜV). I know what it is capable of; in basically original state with no farkles but the Russell seat and one Sat Nav.
I had a detailed, plastified plan in my tank bag and started to execute it. That was a problem in the beginning as I wasn’t focused enough. I missed the right entry on the M11 and headed south instead north. Great! What a start! Only eight hours and already 10 minutes lost! Despite this hiccup, I did not push the XBR more – I had discovered earlier that I had topped up the oil too much – and I didn’t want to cause any unpleasant situation that involves hot oil in places were it shouldn’t be.
Before getting to the first location, I met John and other riders. So I was behind my schedule..and others have had the same idea. After the second stop in Rutland Water I saw John again – but now he was behind me??? For the next hours, I simply followed my plan. It was working well and I always was a couple of minutes before my plan.
Along the north coast of East Anglia, the roads got smaller and winding, but luckily the XBR was the right match. The same was true when I crossed towns. Why is Saturday noon always such a pain? The cities are congested to the max, but with the XBR, this is fun. I had refined my “swimming through the cities” skills when I was living in Barcelona, so this was the place where I can gain some time on other riders. I knew that the second part of the route would mean quicker roads with fewer obstacles and so it was. Slowly I was getting more and more ahead of my plan. East Anglia presented itself as I remember it from the past: long straight roads with lots of traffic (where do they all want to get to?) that had to be passed. With a very narrow XBR: no problem. Later, the roads got nicer, a bit hilly even a bit scenic. When I reached Braintree station, I had gained 40 minutes on my plan which meant that I could execute my option 1: going down to the Southend Cemetery. Again many cars, but now I was in the “flow” and sailed just through the crowd. You remember the scene from “Man in Black” when Agent Jay and Agent Kay drive through the tunnel and Agent Kay sings? “You know, you need to relax and take some joy in your work. You like music?” Left my home in Norfolk, Virginia….I always must laugh when I remember this scene with singing Agent Kay when I surf through the crowd.
When I returned from this detour and came to North Weald Airfield, I was right back on my schedule. I would have arrived right on time after 8 hours. BUT, the rules allowed another hour at a penalty of ten points per minute. Normally, these penalty points are much higher and any coming late is punished heavily. This meant I could execute detour number two: picking two pubs to the west of the quickest route back to the HQ. This would mean I’d arrive about 36 minutes too late and get 360 penalty points, but I count bag another 1350 points which results in a net benefit of about 1000 points. In Duxford, I expected major problems, as a big air show was going on, with an enormous old Flying Fortress circling at a scary low altitude, gulp! However, I could easily access the site and take my picture. Another stop in the heart of crowded Cambridge and at 18:37, 37 minutes too late and one minute after my plan, I arrived at the finish, just after John.
We scored quickly (I lost no points) and soon the ceremony started. John, Dave Clarke and I were called to the podium. John and I lost 1000 “handicap” points, Dave 100. The results were:
John 9180 points, Dave 9280 points, Me 11219 points
Wow! Another rally won this year. Well done everybody! The little XBR did it again. Second rally, second victory. Not bad for a 30-year-old lady 🙂 . After some chats, I thanked the organizers and left the place, for I wanted to return the same day. After a chilly ride back, I arrived at home at 1:30 a.m.
A nice “short stint” rally that hopefully attracts new riders to try the longer rallies. A joyful day with the XBR!