If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Home again

The MAG bike show in Aberystwyth was the first for a very long time, so I learn. Consequently, there were few trade or club stands and not many day visitors. However, about 200 bikers turned up for the prospect of a meet and an evening's music and booze. We must have handed out application forms to 20-30 people, so the day wasn't wasted.

The only notable appearance was Nick Sanders, famed for his round-the-world rides on unlikely machinery. He brought his R1 on the back of a pickup, but I can't say for sure what happened after that as I never heard of him again.

There were a goodly number of nice bikes there in the car park, with a tiny Honda four-cylinder vintage race bike and a smattering of classic Guzzis. The atmosphere was friendly and informal, and the facilities provided by Aberystwyth Rugby Club were basic but efficient. I doubt if the event made much money for the organisers, but I hope that won't put them off organising another one next year. It's a great location, being roughly central to Wales, with some brilliant roads nearby. I met some excellent characters (including some boys from the Thumper Club weekend that I met back in May) and, as usual, the women ranged from gorgeous to scary.

This was our stand (basic, but brought on the back of a bike on Friday morning):

And these were the camping arrangements:

(Note: Steve, the only man in the UK who brings tartan pyjamas to a bikers' weekend.)

I have to confess to imbibing rather more than my usual sweet sherry in the evening. We started by sharing a bottle of whisky late in the afternoon (Lidl's 12-year-old single malt, very acceptable) and it went downhill from there. There were two bands on in the evening. I didn't catch the name of the first one, who were a workmanlike pub-rock outfit and got things going well. The second band, called Boogelator (sure I've got that wrong, but it was late) played blues, boogie and R&B - proper R&B, not that modern soul stuff - and were excellent. Really excellent. Worth going to the rally just to hear them. I stumbled back to my tent at about midnight and had a short asthma attack which was a bit alarming, but as I always travel equipped with the right inhalers I just inhaled away until it stopped. I get an attack like this once every year or so, and it is a bit unsettling. I blame the Butty Bach real ale I had drunk shortly before retiring - strange beers have done this to me before, and I was on a diet of plain old lager before that. Once I had calmed down, I slept like a baby until awoken at dawn by a cockerel in a neighbouring garden.

I took the small tent, the same one I took to Denmark last year, and it was very cramped but easy to put up and take down. The big success was my new sleeping bag. I had destroyed my last one when I straightened my leg out to relieve a bout of cramp and ripped the zip out, and I was determined to get a half-decent replacement. I went for a Vango Nitestar, and I am well pleased with it. I hate sleeping bags as I get very claustrophobic and suddenly get the urge to kick my legs about all over the place. This bag is square rather than mummy-shaped (plenty of room for the feet) and I swallowed my pride and went for an XL size. It's a full metre wide from neck to feet and could easily accommodate two people if they were good friends. It was more like being wrapped in a duvet than being in a bag, and I was warm, comfortable and non-restricted all night. I am very glad I got it.

The journey home was a lovely blast down the coast road and I was home in time for lunch. The new panniers swallowed everything I needed for the weekend and worked faultlessly, and the bike didn't miss a beat.

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