Sidecarland

Round Britain Rally

by Roy and Chris

Hopefully next year things will return to normal with shows and rallies taking place again.  For us, living in Lincolnshire, we are lucky in having two excellent motorcycle shows close together in January.  However, if rallies and shows are slow to get going again, you might like to consider taking part in the “Round Britain Rally” (RBR). This starts on the 1st April each year, and ends on the 1st November; you can do as much or as little of the rally as you like –   this is a very free and easy event.

This rally had originally started in the 1970’s, but it then died out. It was resurrected in 1993 by Dave Hancock and Tim Stevens. Chris and I read about it in a bike magazine in 1993 and contacted Dave to sign up, but he said that, as the rally was already half-way through, it would be better to wait until the following year. 

We therefore first took part in 1994, and we thoroughly enjoyed taking part for nearly 20 years; we were awarded best outfit in 1994/5/9 and 2000.  In 1998 I was running a BMW R 100 outfit which eventually died, so out came my MZ 250 cc.  I found that doing a similar mileage with the solo reduced the riding time taken on each trip by 1 hour or more. 

Several Fed members have taken part in this rally over the years, often combining a Fed rally with some of the local landmarks in the area for the RBR, killing two birds with one stone so to speak.

The event is a bit like a treasure hunt but on a national scale. There are normally one or two landmarks to be found in each county, which you need to find and then photograph your bike / outfit, together with a control card (which is changed each year) and the landmark. Each landmark is awarded a number of points

Don’t expect the locals to know everything – on one occasion we had to find a tower – now … that had to be easy because it sticks up doesn’t it??  We could not find it so we asked a local near the village church.  “I have lived here man and boy and never heard of it “was his reply. 

In cases like this you take a photo of your bike, the rally card and the name-plate of something nearby, like the local church / post-office / village nameplate, to prove that you had been there. The downside to this is that you lose a few points, off the full score.

There are some wonderful pieces of engineering that we have visited over the years of doing the rally.  One landmark was Foxton Locks. 

Wolfgang has a boat in Germany and whilst he was over here in England, we took him to the locks and he was very impressed.  Another water-based themed landmark was the Anderton Boat Lift; we got there and spotted a canal boat doing snacks, so we decided to have a cuppa and a bun – the boat owners had only just started doing teas and snacks that day and we were their first paying customers!!  They told us that, at some time in the future, they would do canal trips and serve snacks as well.

Chris and I never got as far north as Scotland doing this rally, as we only rode on Sundays because I worked six days a week.  We would have one week’s holiday doing RBR – during which we usually did all the landmarks in Wales – this was a favourite of ours because it is fairly quickly done and has great riding roads.  However, we did well doing the rally and learned a lot of history and visited various interesting locations in the country.  Some of the things that you are looking for are massive, like the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, or they can be quite small like a parish boundary stone buried in a hedge – quite a challenge to find. 

On one occasion in Cornwall – near Land’s End – the landmark could be seen from a very steep road.  I left the bike in bottom gear but this was not enough to hold the bike.  Chris, who was still in the sidecar, was not a very happy bunny and I had to be pretty quick in taking the photo!!

The rally ends on the 1st November and your photos need to be submitted by then. However, this is not the end of the rally because early in the New Year there is a presentation dinner (held somewhere in the middle of the country) at which the awards are given out for the number of points gained.  Other awards may be presented at the organisers’ discretion – for example for Best Outfit / Best Scooter / Best Lady Rider, or similar.

The results for the 2019 rally state that well over 11,000 photos were inspected!!

This is a great rally – you get to places that you would normally ride past, and to locations you did not even know existed.  You can do this in your own time as an when you can.  Hopefully this virus will have eased off next year and the club rallies can start again then you could do the RBR as well if you wished.  The RBR gives you a reason to get your outfit on the road.  Chris and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with the rally – I did the riding and she was “ballast and navigation” – looking in the various ditches and hedgerows for some of the landmarks!!

Remember – you can do as many or as few landmarks as you wish.  On those days when you just want to go for a ride it can give you somewhere interesting to head off to.

If you want to have a go then contact:

Round Britain Rally

c/o  2 Elias Close

Lichfield

Staffs

WS14  9TX

Also see; http://www.roundbritainrally.co.uk/