OK, the Brit Butt 2017 is over and finally find some time to write some lines. This is what I had prepared before the rally:
Well, here I am. Sitting in the hotel room, trying to work out the challenge that the rally master of the 2017 Brit Butt Rally has thrown at us.
I arrived yesterday here in Leicester and have passed all the tasks today (registration, odometer check route, technical inspection, rider meeting). It was an unusual hot day here, but unfortunately the weather will bring some thunderstorms to the British Isles tomorrow; Sunday should be fine again.
I have finally enrolled for the rally with the aim to use it as a shakedown or dress rehearsal for the big Iron Butt Rally I will ride in June/July in North America. The bike was prepped considerably and this will be the last test before it will be shipped over the big pond. As I have won the two previous Brit Butt Rallies, I am in a very relaxed mood. I have no pressure at all and apart from testing the bike, I want to have fun during the rally.
I had already had an idea before the rider meeting what the rally could bring, but it was even worse than expected: there was no rally book, just a list of towns that could be visited, all of them starting with the letter “Y” or “Z”. There were no predefined locations, you had to find the name of the town on a sign or board to prove you were there. Every town had a value that was doubled if you visited another Y town in the same county, i.e. 1 – 2 – 4 – 8 – 16 – 32 – 64. Every county visited acted as a multiplier for the obtained points.
So this was a complex equation, although there was a simple solution to it: Get some high point counties and visit their 6 or 7 locations and visit many single-location counties to increase the multiplier coefficient. A very mathematical rally, but not my cup of tea. I had decided to enter the rally to test everything. The route planning templates were useless in this case. This was not the rehearsal I was prepared for. I was considering to cancel my participation, but decided that I still could test the bike. I always loved the BBR for the big points, great rides, scenic places, spectacular locations. Searching for signs or other written names of the place in little villages, maybe at night, was not what I expected from this rally. Well, in the end I had designed a route and planned to ride it until Saturday evening and would then decide if I continued the rally.
We left at 6 a.m. as usual and I headed for Wales. In some villages, no signs were available, so I had to take a picture of a town sign, knowing that only a total of five town signs were allowed. In Wales it was cool and cloudy.
After three hours, I parked my bike in front of the Yarpole parish hall. I was sure that the bike was standing safely. Five seconds later the bike had crashed into a railing, smashing the windshield and right mirror. I need the help of two men to get it upright again. I quickly taped all the broken parts and continued the ride, much more chilly without the big windshield.
When I left Wales at 6 p.m., I was more than one hour and half behind my very ambitious route. I decided to skip one point for I had booked a hotel in Swindon and my plan said I would reach it 1 a.m. However, it was clear that I would be late. I visited all seven points in county Devon and bagged 127 points, visited one point in Cornwall. I had to ride for one hour against the setting sun, swearing about the single track farm roads with grass or dirt in the middle and the shadow on the road that made the riding extremely risky. Finally it was dark and I could switch on the floodlight I had installed: 14000 Lumen H4 LED Cyclops lights plus the 15000 Lumen Clearwater Sevinas. And night turned into day. This makes night riding rather quick. Until the mist slowed me down. A lot.
In Exeter it was clear that I wouldn’t get to the hotel before 3.a.m., so I asked in a Travelodge motel for a room. Fully booked. I checked the booking.com website: In Exeter, 100% booked. OK, let’s continue. I bagged many points near Yeovil, but the fog was very nasty. Finally, I arrived at the hotel at 4:30 and spent my 4 hour rest break there. After a refreshing 2 hour sleep, I had a quick breakfast and continued my ride. I knew that my initial plan to go to Yorkshire was impossible, but I wanted to continue it as far as possible.
I visited Oxfordshire, rode on the M25 and visited Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. I realised that I could not get more counties so I decided to sit down in a Costa Cafe in a shopping mall and did my paperwork, as it had to be presented at the finish before 5 p.m. The scoring was not perfect, despite my double checks I missed to claim one county and some more points. I had visited more than 60 locations. But 13250 points sounded not too bad, should be good enough for the podium. Unfortunately, John Young had to drop out due to an infection, but there were still enough rivals for the top. At the ceremony, I was called with the Horsefall brothers to the podium. They both had formed a team and had obtained about 8200 points….oooops, this meant….I had won the Brit Butt for the third time in a row! Unfortunately, I had no time to celebrate, as I had to hit the road for I had to work the next day.
At home I discovered that the rear wheel bearing made a screeching noise….luckily, I have discovered it. Just image if this would have happened during the Iron Butt Rally! Apart from that, I think I am well prepared for it! 🙂