What is a Rally?
This is an article for those who read our web site out of interest, or for those who have recently joined the biking family and wonder just what it is we are all harking on about at meetings but are too shy to ask!
Yes I was once a rally virgin! And I remember being a bit confused about what these weekends away entailed, they seemed to require a ton of equipment and organisation skills far beyond anything I could manage even as a Mum of four!
So I thought I would write a piece about what we do and how we achieve our weekends away with the Virago Star Owners Club.
Firstly, what is a rally?
A rally is simply a weekend or extended weekend away on our motor bikes camping and having a great time. We usually pitch up at a rugby club or some such area. I can not speak for everyone because we all bring away something different from our individual experiences while camping on mass but I will try to tell it how it is for me.
We ride motor bikes, we camp, we dance usually in a club house on the grounds on which we are pitched, (Quite often to general ?rock? type music but not always) we have a great time making new friends, catching up with old friends, we partake in a little refreshment , we wind down, we sometimes dress up, we escape our everyday hassles and just have a ball.
Now there are some variations to this pattern, some people bring the odd car (although this is not encouraged consideration must be given to those members who would like to attend but may be unable to ride their bikes for one reason or another- ill health for example) some people do not dance (shy?) And some people take forgetting their hassles just a little seriously.
The point is there is never any harm done, the VSOC is an international club with members all over the world but the one thing we all have in common is the desire to enjoy ourselves and to make sure members feel welcome and safe at our functions.
I have taken my son all over the country to VSOC rallies and he has been befriended by everyone he has met, he has not been exposed to any type of behaviour that I would consider offensive and he has learned independence and responsibility???He is big enough to put his own b?.y tent up now!
He has been given confidence by being introduced to so many fantastic people and has not gone through any of that painfully shy teenage stuff, he can talk to anyone and he can pee against a tree.
Basic requirements to attend a rally and remember readers of the experienced kind, this is just my view of things, you may disagree and that?s fine.
- Your bike: although see note above. (See picture 2 for things to pack, note different tent sizes and full/empty stuff bag)
- Tent ? unless you can share once you get there or can get someone to take your tent for you. Couples with two bikes please negotiate load. Tip to the inexperienced rally goer??.NEVER get involved with anyone else?s tent erecting domestic, they are but fleeting divorce threats and never meant.
- Sleeping bag, a cheap one is ok but better to go to an outlet centre and pick one up from a climbing shop that is good quality. You can always open the zip to cool off but things can be grim if you?re cold at night Sleeping bags can also be zipped together so couples make sure the zips are compatible if that is what you would like. Which really leads me to rally pyjamas, not sexy but handy for that dash to the toilet at 2am after one too many lagers. Tip: roll up the trouser legs cos the grass gets dew on it and this will wet the bottoms of your PJ?s but you will think it?s PEE!
- Seasoned rally goers will never dash to the toilet as they drink a bottle of sunny delight before bed, to understand this you must join the club and become introduced to ?camping tips (club secrets!)?
- Panniers or throw over?s. Bags designed for each side of the bike Tip: please check as you may require supports for panniers to keep them away from the back wheel. These are often specific to your model of bike. However panniers are not essential they just make things easier. (See picture one for unloaded bike showing pannier supports)
- Stuff bag, this is a water proof thick tubular shaped bag that is easy to pack and easy to strap too the bike, again it is recommended but not essential. They can be picked up in climbing shops or army surplice shops. My advice is not to get the biggest size as you may need to consider the width of your bike when packed. My stuff sack is the best thing I own for bike camping. I put my sleeping bag and all my clothes in it, my tent also fit?s in if I need it too.
- Roll out mattress, again not essential I am sure there are those who are tough enough to be at one with the earth when horizontal I however prefer an inflatable double which can be bulky to pack and please remember your inflating device oh and the bung! (Thank you again tony 2005 for having a spare.)
- Toiletries, as many as you think you will need. Small bottles of shampoo etc after all it is only for a few nights, make up if you have to (Barrie) but I never bother. Baby wipes for a freshen up when the showers are closed and you may have just got sweaty (yippee). Girls don?t forget a hair brush?cos I have many times and please remember a towel cos in my experience you just can?t get dry with yesterdays T shirt. A small pair of scissors (Denise remember Darlington!) and a nail file is also handy, bike gloves play havoc with nails.
- Extra clothes, this is down to personal choice I find that taking clothes that can be layered for example thin fleeces provide the most adaptable wardrobe! Layers can be removed as things heat up, for a short weekend minimal extra clothes are required, a couple of Tee shirts, a pair of jeans and changes of underwear, I might be missing something but members are there to have fun, it?s not a fashion show.
- Straps and bungees, the bungee is the most evil device ever invented, for those of us with mature years and hands that are aging, the bungee is a horrid elastic devil designed to hurt us. I do not exaggerate. I prefer straps but confess to using both. These are used to fix the gear to the said bike. You may over do it the first few camping trips but you soon realise what is needed and what is not. Tip: if you are loading up and have a pillion, do not strap luggage on the back seat!!! (See pictures 4 and 5 for pillion and non pillion packing)
- Fun, take your fun with you everyone else will and the more fun the better.
In order to attend a rally you should have a ticket although these are sometimes available on the gate. It is better for the hosting club that members buy thier tickets in advance as this helps the funds and gives the host club an idea of numbers attending. All rallies held by the VSOC are run by the members of the centre, they organise everything in their spare time and all the support they receive is from volunteers. The venue is decided and advertised to the other centres, we buy our tickets and arrange between ourselves how to travel to the venue.
Clubs can ride in groups and meet at a prearranged spot or individuals can travel independently, this is really dictated by the individual?s time off work, where they live etc but it is nice to travel together and arrive at a site together. However you arrive you are sure of a warm welcome.
Centres tend to camp in groups and may even have a snazzy flag to pinpoint thier whereabouts, this makes visiting friends and finding your tent easier.
Rallies are all over the country (and Europe), they are a good way to explore parts of Britain (and Europe) that you have not been to before. The ticket cost is very good value considering you get at least two nights camping, at least two if not three nights of live music entertainment and almost always 24 hour free tea and coffee.
Other things you may consider taking to a rally that are handy include
- An insulated mug with lid??good for shaking hands the morning after the night before and usually bigger than the free cups provided with the free tea and coffee
- A folding chair, again consider your load width
- Camping cutlery , plate, small stove and water carrier so you can brew up at your tent
- Hip flask?..good for making friends?..
- Resolve powder, the favoured fast acting headache cure
- Small rubber hammer?tent pegs can be tw..s
Lastly I would say never be frightened to ask. Even if before setting off on a trip if you need help packing or advice on loading up your bike just contact a member of the club. You will find endless offers of help and advice on almost any subject.
Girls a special mention of one product I try to include on every trip??bug bite cream, believe me bug bites under leathers on a hot day are enough to drive you insane oh and sunscreen oh and a fold up hat?????water proofs??..long Johns???..map???.
Just remember it all has to fit on the bike
UNLESS you buy a trailer!!!!
Happy camping and I hope this inspires you to join us, look me up at a rally, I go to most, come to Centre 4?s camp and say hello. We look forward to meeting you.
Allison Centre 4