This was now my third event of this kind following on from the South West Peninsular Rally in March and the Welsh National Rally in May. I completed the online application and sorted out payment as directed and was in, all I had to de now was wait for the locations to be e-mailed out.
As with the previous events this rally followed the same format with a Start and Finish point at Arties Mill, Brigg near Scunthorpe. This was a journey of 110 miles from my home so I again decided to do the whole day in one as the Welsh National Rally.
My outward-bound journey took me past a couple of TMBF tag locations at Aubourn Hall & Caenby Corner Cafe so these were added to my sat nav route for the early morning trip up to North Lincolnshire via the M69, A46 & A15. It seemed rude not to take the opportunity to bag these en-route.
The rally information dropped into my inbox on bank holiday Sunday evening. As usual I had a quick scan through but as I don’t possess a printer at home there was not a lot I could do before returning to work on the following Tuesday.
The brief for a successful rally was to visit 11 checkpoints in Lincolnshire which, included two compulsory stops, and 10 checkpoints in Yorkshire which included one compulsory point. However it was this point which looked as though it was going to cause a planning issue as it was the furthest point north, it was going to be a long ride.
Following on from the Welsh Rally planning I decided to again use TYRE exclusively for the trip plan. I followed the same format as before and when I had got all points entered it was giving me a route of 396 miles, wow that seemed to be a long way. I set about preparing a second route and this came out only 10 miles shorter so I emailed Grim and canvassed his opinion on the distance, surely I had got it wrong somewhere along the lines?.
Grim’s reply was reassuring, he was also looking at that sort of distance, no doubt his route was more efficient than mine but overall my mind was put at rest so I decided to go with plan A.
Next step was to check the TMBF locations in the area and there were three locations more or less on my route, the Yardbirds Club in Grimsby, Flo’s Cafe on the A1 and the Seafront Chippy in Hornsea. These were duly added to the routing which was now giving me a predicted mileage of 416.
The next couple of days were spent googling the stops to find possible clue locations, churches and the like, this information was added to my roadbook, along with basic navigational instructions. The calculations were now giving me a predicted finish time of 19:26 so if I could possibly achieve that I would be well happy. I was not confident on this though as I had cut down on stop times and also excluded petrol stop allowances, all these I hoped to make up in the average speed for the day. Looking back at the previous rallies, I averaged 32 MPH on the SWSPR and 33 MPH on the WNR, so to achieve the result planned I would need to average 39 MPH on this one, a tall order.
It was at this stage I started to consider the day as a whole, the route from home was 110 miles, add the days mileage of 410, then the trip home of another 110 came to north of 600 miles for the day. A quick consultation of the tinterweb and a stopover on the Friday night was booked at the nearest Travelodge, there was only a family room available so my luggage will be able to have a bed to itself.
All that was left now was to print details and roadbook and sit back to await the day.
My travel plan was to leave work early and head off north tackling Coventry’s ring road and the A444 to pick up the M69 towards the M1.
There were a couple of TMBF tags to pick up and also a quick stop off at a friend’s gaff near RAF Scampton before hitting the Travelodge at Scunthorpe.
The Friday evening all went to plan, however the fodder at the Fayre Square Farmhouse pub left a bit to be desired, the burger was totally tasteless but it was sustenance I suppose but certainly a choice I won’t make again.
I had finished the non-descript meal before Grim arrived so by the time he had sorted his meal and we had sat and put the world to rights over a couple of beers it was fairly late by the time we headed back to the Travelodge.
Sleep for me was a bit of a premium, I woke at 2:20am and couldn’t get back to sleep for thinking about the upcoming route, the questions started in my head, would 400+ miles be achievable? Should I ditch the TMBF tags planned in? These were still in my thoughts when I finally got up at 6am after snatching a few more disturbed Zzzz’s during the early hours.
I was still thinking when packing up the bike but I kept saying to myself that the plan worked on paper so go with it.
We set off to Arties Mill at 7:30 so that we could make sure we were ready for a swift getaway. A meetup and chat with the organisers and a few fellow riders, Rob grabbed a full breakfast and it was soon 8:30 and time to sign on and collect the clues. Back in the car park I had a quick scan of the clue sheet and got sorted and away out of the car park. The layout of the exit meant that this time I couldn’t possibly get the first bit wrong so that was one problem sorted. I was still thinking about the feasibility of the day’s trip and debating whether to ditch the TMBF tags as I set off to the first target of Laceby. The first clue was to be found at Astles Bike Dealers, the only problem was I couldn’t find Astles!!!, the only bike dealers I came across was an old workshop which dealt with all types of English machinery going back to the year dot. I had heard that the clues on this rally were cryptic so I thought that the question of “How many flags outside of the bike shop” may have referred to the nationality of the bikes served so I settled to answer 1 for a virtual Union Flag.
After this not very good start, my plan, again came into question, however I had read on the Iron Butt website the mantra of “Plan the ride”, “Ride the plan” or something along those lines, so I set sail for Grimsby and the first TMBF stop at the Yardbirds Nightclub. My sat nav did the job and I pulled up outside, this stop, although easy on paper, proved yet another nightmare, my number board blew off the bike in the strong wind before I had chance to take the snap. I had to chase it down the street and try again.
After this unneeded exercise I set off to North Thorsby to find some trains near the New Inn. It took me a while to find the pub in question and this only came about after asking a local. This was only the start of the problem, there were no trains! The station is a dead end and a couple of trips up and down the road confirmed that the area was devoid of locomotives. Another problem stop.
Three down and three disasters, the day was not going well.
It was with increasing trepidation that I headed off to Little Cawthorpe in the hope of discovering the alternative name for the Royal Oak. I entered the village and spotted a sign for the pub, excellent I thought, an easy one. Down the lane I went, no wonder it needed a sign I thought. To a tee junction, however this was no normal tee junction it was a river. I looked left and thought better of going that way so decided to try right, no sign you will have noticed, dropping into the water, which looked to be between 1” and 2-3” at worst I slithered through the brook and back onto terra firma, a further 100 yards I came upon the pub and the apt alternative name of “The Splash”, at last a definite one onto the scorecard, I was off and running.
Sutton-on-Sea was next up, the first of the compulsory stops, I pulled up to check out the lie of the land, or should that be the lay of the land?, who knows, but anyway I needed to find Marine Avenue, I had already passed Marine Avenue West and that wasn’t where I needed to be so I decided on a trip round the block to try and find the pub in question. After a couple of turns I was lost so a quick check of Google Maps on the trusty phone had me back sitting in the same spot as I was earlier and, you guessed it, right outside of the target, Doh!, answer obtained I headed off to the home of NX611 “Just Jane” at East Kirby to discover the name of the lodge at the entrance to the aviation centre.
I was cooking on gas now and quickly set sail for Moorby and specifically Ostrich Farm where, apparently they sold a specific make of ice cream. I pulled into the car park to find a couple of bikes parked up and a quick chat gave me the unexpected answer that they had stopped selling ice cream!, answer obtained as “None”, easy peasy. Off to Tattershall village green, the answer to this was that the castle & cathedral were depicted on the sign. A couple of quick ones followed, Digby and the village cross, the second compulsory stop at Byards Leap where the horseshoes signified the horses strides in the local story. A quick stop at Brant Broughton outside “Bunnys Cottage” followed before…
…the next part of the plan which was a 130 mile trip up the A1 & A1M to Croft-on-Tees via a quick photo stop at Flo’s Cafe, I had chosen this route as a backup plan to gain some time if needed, I had reasoned that 100 plus miles at a steady 60mph will draw back lost time if needed. It didn’t quite work to plan as the traffic was heavy and there were roadworks but it served the purpose and I arrived 20 minutes ahead of my plan. This gave me the opportunity to have a break and scoff a couple of cereal bars and down some water whilst I checked out the church gate to work out the answer of what is depicted on the gate.
I was now starting the homeward leg and set off south back towards Lincolnshire, first up was a memorial on the A167, where King David had crossed the river in 1138, Thirsk where the shop next to the motorcycle dealers was called “Hair for Men”, Sutton Bank national park visitors centre where the birds on the sign at the back of the cafe had to be counted, sounds easy but was tricky, I had bumped into a couple of bikes at this stop so a communal count-up was carried out, after a few recounts we agreed on “22”.
After negotiating the car park exit, which was made particularly tricky as I couldn’t read the dam great white arrows painted on the road it was off to Coxwold, and the Shandy Hall, the answers were coming thick and fast now. Oswaldkirk and “12 windows”, Stamford Bridge where the Viking Ship is called “Ormen” and is dated 1060 AD, this by the way was Harolds last battle before the infamous “one in the eye” at Hastings 6 weeks later, you never know do you?
Sledmere had a few memorial type constructions, eventually discovered the correct one and another counting exercise resulted in the answer of “13”. Flamborough Head was next, I was looking forward to this one as it seemed to be a remote spot to visit, not quite as I imagined it but none the less looked good, off next to Hornsea for a double stop, as it turned out both the clue and the TMBF tag was in the same place, the water feature showing feeding seabirds was over the road from the seafront chippy, two birds with one stone, only one stop left now so it was back into Lincolnshire over the fantastic Humber Bridge, this in itself was tricky as the constant wind had not abated so it was a lean into it job, fantastic crossing through, into Elsham to discover the squadron numbers on the Barnetby Road sign and all that was left was the 20 odd mile sprint to the finish.
I pulled into a car park at Arties Mill which was devoid of motorcycles, there was a wedding on so I rode round to see if they were parked up in a different spot. None to be seen, was I that late they had packed up and gone home???. I parked up and went into the bar where Rob & Barbara were waiting, Phew! I signed back in with a finishing time 11 minutes ahead of my Ride Plan, after all the thoughts overnight and early in the rally my plan had come together so I had proved to myself that the system is somewhere near.
My rally card completed and handed over in exchange for a nice plaque as a momentum of the day and confirmation of a successful achievement of a Gold Award.
I didn’t get to meet up with Grim after the event as it transpired that his trusty Beemer had given him some problems on the road and by the time these had been sorted rendered too much time lost added to this was the need of a trip to Manchester so Grim had called it a day but like Arnie said “He will be back…”
A quick stock up on calories and water preceded a swift trip back home and the completion of a 650 mile round trip which started with an early finish at work on Friday afternoon and concluded at 10pm on Saturday, excellent stuff.
A big thank you to Rob & Barbara for organising the event, I can’t imagine the time it takes to sort this out, especially just the two of them.