Last Minute Rally . com
Mixed weather ahead was almost the undoing of a great first rally, not counting the salty Jump Start of course. Groups of bikers assembled at Wheatsheaf or their own starting points and times. Reasonable weather in Thames Valley area boded well but dark clouds approached. Just as we were all into our journeys to the wilds of Hertfordshire the heavens opened. Some in cars, some solo bikes and some trailer trash headed into high winds and sheet rain.
Baz led the group ride hardly able to see the Sat Nav never mind the roads. Keith was blinded by Bob's back wheel spray. Lyndy and I decided to go the Motorway route as it would save 30 miles. Good choice, but even the rain there was a nightmare but mostly lorry spray being the problem. Sue Ed and Chris had prior engagements (work) and left later straight into the holiday nightmare traffic and took over 4 hours to get there.
We arrived some time before the cross country riders and waited for the gang to arrive. Baz decided on our portion of the huge site. Just as we had ground sheets down the rain returned with a vengeance. So having taken off the waterproofs – oops not a good plan. I’ve never seen tents go up so quickly. Tents up and the rain stopped but it was freezing, so a quick trip to the clubhouse for hot drinks was called for. As for Boots, his clutch hand had frostbite! Later that day the second group struggled through the traffic and joined us for some supper. Lasagne and chips seemed to be the best choice but probably tasted better for having waited an hour in theCup Cakes queue. Soon it was party time. Everyone togged up in party clothes plus jumpers and hoodies and some warming drinks, not chocolate this time! We moved to the cold marquee to wait for the main act. But before that we all ate the lovely cupcakes celebrating 20 years of the VOC, wonderfully iced by little Lucinda. Finally on they came – the rip roaring rock and roll duo Two Non Blondes, thumping out the music of the night. Vultures danced their socks off especially Lyndy and Keith with strong support from Boots, Badger and Julie. The floor was a bit (!) dusty and the swirling clouds of sand drifted into the dance area smothering everything and getting up peoples noses. Undaunted the dancing went on and on as well the supping; please don’t ask about Boots’s bar bill. Finally turning in for a disturbed night under canvas, wind rain and those pesky people noises! Some people decided that the floor was much more preferable to a soft mattress (yeah right!)

Two Non BlondesWaking on Saturday to lovely sunshine, although not exactly warm, a few of us trotted down to a breakfast where Chris found the thickest sandwiches ever, and promptly dropped it. Sitting around in the sunshine until the stragglers arrived (in cars it has to be said). We loved watching Roger erect his tent with lots of ‘helpers’. Finally Roger looked around and in the boot. “Oops I see a Diesel Award coming my way ......  forgot my bed and sleeping bag!” Off he trotted to a local Halfords where they were doing a roaring trade in lost bits and replacement beds. Nick decided it was time to introduce Yvonne to the joys of pillion riding (she seemed less than impressed with the idea) but togged up in Ed’s leathers, off they went. Apparently there was a ride out but in traditional Vulture style we sat around in the sunshine. Paul got sunburnt despite a hoody and Keith had his bandit stripes.

Time for our evening meal, some cooking some cuisine and a couple went to club where the queues were much shorter. I wonder why. Band this time was noisey but such a downer on the previous night. Whist waiting for the big event the mixers were out. The Raffle Draw a mix of ‘interesting’ prizes were won by the team (I think the boys were distracted into buying up almost all of the raffle tickets by the outfits of the sales ladies. Then the presentations to all the Founding Club Members for 20 years membership out of 20! None for Vultures ‘cos we are all too young, a few bike winners not ourselves again though. So another evening drew to a close with Ketchup under boobs ready for late night hot dogs .... especially for Holly. Better weather for the night, although freezing cold.

However I woke too early and was in the shower by 5.30!  After the smell of home (tent) cooked breakfast or clubhouse plateful or Iain driving to get Holly her hash browns (and coming back ‘Oh it’s Sunday’); we started the process of dismantling the tents and trying to get everything back into what seemed to be smaller spaces than we had when we started. Sadly our journey back home was interrupted by an Inner Ear problem meaning a few stops more than we wanted and more traffic.
Safely home and down for a well-earned Costa coffee before the joy of warm comfortable beds at home.

Peter Barnett.