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South West Peninsula Rally 2010

Having left work on Friday afternoon I rode down the M5 to Bridgwater with a brief stop at the battlefield site of Sedgemoor in Westonzoyland. It started raining as I stopped in Bridgwater to get some cash and then at my stop for the night, the Travelodge by the M5 services. Having got my room key I was just locking up the bike when my friend Trevor and his friend Dave arrived from Dorset, on their Hondas, a CB1000 and an ST1300 respectively. After settling into our rooms (choice - either overlooking the car park or facing onto the motorway; I thought I was lucky getting the car park, of which more anon...), we walked down the road to the nearest pub for a meal, a few pints and some good chat. Both Trevor and Dave were very good company and we got on well. We stumbled back to the hotel for a good night's sleep before the next day's ride.


The noise of motorbikes - noisy old motorbikes - woke me up at around 4.30am. I looked out into the car park to see it half full of an assorted collection of British singles and twins of various vintages, all being started up to the tune of barely silenced exhausts. I remembered that Trevor had mentioned someone on the RBR forum talking about a reliability test or something using this hotel as a control point and tried to get back to sleep, realising why people get fed up with motorbikes! By 5am they had all gone (must have passed the reliabilty bit then) and I got another couple of hours sleep.


After breakfast in the services we left at around 8.30 for the short ride to the start at V&J Motorbikes, the Honda dealership in Bridgwater. We had planned different routes but they were basically the same route, except that I was planning on riding it clockwise, while Trevor and Dave were going anti-clockwise. I made a snap decision to change my route and ride with them. After a few missed turnings as Trevor got used to his new satnav, we set out on the road south towards our first control at  West Bagborough. I soon began to remember why I tend not to ride with other people as the distance between us stretched and eventually I turned off the road onto a country track towards the control, only to look back and see them go sailing past. I got to the inn we were heading for, hung around for a bit and then decided they would be coming from my way out towards the second control at Wiveliscombe so we could meet up. Sure enough a mile or two later on I met them coming the opposite direction and stopped, they did not and carried on past me. I was getting the feeling this was not going ot work so I carried on. I met them again going towards the second control as I headed towards the next controls on Exmoor, and then did not see them again for the rest of the day.


I knocked off the first six unmanned controls fairly quickly, not even stopping at a couple as I just needed to ride past and count the number of arches on the bridge or similar - at Twitchen the postbox had recently been removed but another rider told me that as I pulled up so I just rode straight on without pausing. I got to the first manned control at South Molton at 10.01, a minute after it had opened, and was the first rider to get there. I answered the questions (A seemed the right answer for several so I just answered them all with that, it was quicker!) and left as others arrived.


I had a good ride down the north coast of Cornwall, past Bude, and made a short detour to visit my second battlefield of the weekend for the Battle of Stratton on Stamford Hill. I also managed to get the bike stuck at the end of a muddy track when I took a wrong turning and lost over 10 minutes getting the bike turned round, by which time I was knackered and the GS was plastered in mud. I rode ond down the north coast - the weather had become a little dull and overcast but was gradually brightening up as I headed south. After a quick stop at Boscastle to discover the name written above the butcher's shop I rode into Tintagel to collect another Grim Riders' landmark - this time the Old Post Office for the Letterboxes Ride.


I visited Padstow and then St Columb Major, before my second manned control at Perranporth. This was being manned by two guys from Somerset IAM whom I had met the previous year at Charlestown and we sat down and had a good chat about rallying and riding. This photograph was taken by Chris Howard as I left the control. I tnearly forgot the questions but time I somehow found that all the answers were B.

















Leaving Perranporth (note muddy bike!) (thanks to Somerset IAM for the photograph)


I headed across the Cornish peninsula, stopping at St Stephens to fill  up with petrol - the lady in the station almost refused my payment as she did not believe you could get over £50 of petrol in a motorbike's tank and thought there must have been a mistake with the pump. My next unmanned control was at the harbour in the beautiful town of Mevagissey. I nearly got lost in the winding streets before finding the harbour and riding round it to find the answer to the question of when the harbour wall had been rebuilt.


This was my turning point and from here I turned back north towards Dartmoor, collecting a couple of controls at Upton Cross and Tavistock on the way. I had worked out that I passed about four Round Britain Rally landmarks on this route but since this rally was taking place before the RBR's start deadline of April 1st I was unable to collect them as I passed, but at least I had another reason to visit this part of the country again this year.


On Dartmoor I stopped briefly at my final manned checkpoint, passing the looming menace of Dartmoor prison as I entered Princetown to stop at the Old Police Station cafe. From there I had three more controls to visit a Doccombe, Bickleigh and Hemyock before arriving back at the finish in Bridgwater at around 6pm. After a welcome hot meal of chilli and rice and chatting to several other riders I picked up my certificates (two because they had created some for last year's ride as well - proof that they had listened to some feedback!) and headed back to the bike. I was just about to leave when another rider rushed up and said he recognised who I was and had started taking part in rallies after reading this website, which was very pleasing - one of the main reasons I maintain this website is to try and inspire others to try rallying, so it was great to find it had achieved that with at least one person. I am afraid I am hopeless remembering names, but good on you mate - I hope you are still enjoying rallying!