Invasion Rally. Isle of Bute. 2005.
I had visited Bute last year with my wife and thought that I would do the Invasion rally this year. It had been arranged to meet at the cemetery in Egremont and to set off at 10am sharp so it was no surprise to be setting off at 10.20am.
We arrived at the Long Mile Garage to find the other mob stuffing themselves with pies. We parked up and started having the crack about which route to take. It was at this point that I realised I hadnít brought my ticket with me and as the rally was sold out there was no chance of paying on the gate, so a quick dash back to Egremont to collect ticket and try to catch the others up.
I caught them up at a garage near Dumfries they had filled up with petrol and were eating (again). After a couple of minutes Alan McCoy pulled in. This was strange as he had set off with the others and here he was turning up after me. He had overshot the junction to leave the motorway and had ridden on to the next one, turned around and headed back down the motorway to Carlisle, turned around and headed back up the motorway. Yes!
We all set off together and kept a good pace, and then it started raining. By the time we got to the ferry terminal it was intermitting (starting and stopping). While on the ferry I learned that Alan and sniff were staying in B&Bís (soft Workington lot). We landed on Bute and headed the short distance to the rally site. It was while erecting the tents that the rain got heavier. Tammy asked if I could move my tent a bit over as there was not enough room for hers, ďwait til Iíve got the tent up then I will move itĒ was my reply expecting her to have a fair size tent which turned out to be not much bigger than a condom (and they say men have trouble with sizes). Mike turned up and started unpacking; he came up with Tracy in the van. (Vans, B&Bís, hotels, this is a bike rally isnít it?). Itís a nice feeling when you have your tent up and all the gear is inside and the bike has been put into secure parking, until that is you realise that while putting you tent up in the rain you forgot to turn your helmet over and now all the inside is wet. Bugger! The rally site itself was a good location, flat, pegs went in easy, trees one side, the sea on the other and views of mountains (they donít call them fells up there). It was wet under foot but it would turn out to be wetter in the marquee. We wondered into the village and found a cafť to have a bite to eat before hitting the local pubs. I donít know why we went in the pubs as the beer was a hell of a lot cheaper on the site. We met up with the four B&Bís and visited a couple of pubs before going to the site. The band was ok, but the highlight of the evening was watching Caroline and Tammy looking starry eyed at the very young drummer hoping that he would fancy one of them. They failed!
Saturday saw a dry day; we all caught the bus into Rothsay and went our different ways. Sheena, Tracy, Tammy, Mike and I decided to have a look at the castle. The toilets were very impressive I wanted to take them back to the rally site, so clean and hygienic. Later on we went for a ride round the Island, the purpose being to try and dry our bike gear out, before setting off we said hello to Jude who arrived by car (this is a biker rally! honestly, it is). I took the lead as none of us had a map or knew the roads. We set off down the coast road a couple of miles later and I was left with the decision of what route to take as I sped towards what I didn't know was a dead end. The rest of them had slowed down content to sit back and see if I ended up in the briny. Do I go right and down the ramp into the sea, go straight ahead and leap into the sea, or go left and hope the bike makes it over the gravel and not slide into the sea. I took the latter route and disappeared round the corner returning to find the rest of them having a good snigger. So off we jolly well started again taking the next right we came to, which was back at the rally site. Again we blatted down the road to where we came upon, yep, you guessed it, another dead end. I was getting slightly pissed off with dead ends and Sniff declared if we meet another dead end he was going back to the B&B. Caroline was appointed lead biker as she was small enough to give a good hiding to if we came to another dead end. She was lucky; we never came across another dead end. On our tour we visited Seals, killer sharks (though they stayed under water) a stone circle where we saw a beautiful young lady dancing around one of the stones completely naked, her firm breasts gently bouncing as she...I digress, a ruined church on top of a hill which Sniff ran up (fit git) then we stopped at a pub for a bite to eat where we were joined by Anne who had just arrived on the Island (on her bike because it was a biker rally). After the grub it was back to the site where after visiting the pub it was back to the rally site to listen to bands and look at a load of blokes dress up as women to try and win the 'Miss Invasion Rally', I suppose that's why the scots wear kilts. Sunday morning and Iím bored, the four B&Bís have gone home so I decide to walk to Rothsay, Iím passed on the way by the rest of the gang in Judeís car heading to Rothsay, asking if I want a lift, but I wave them on. It takes about an hour to walk and when I get there the place is shut (it is Sunday). I meet the gang and they tell me that Anne has decided to go home to attend a party, the rest of them decide to go and watch bike racing on telly in a pub, I decide to walk back. I call into a drug store to get some water and hear Caroline shouting that they are all going back to the site so I jump in the car with them. Back at site we help Anne with her gear and discover that Sheena is also going home, we wave them off. Caroline and I are both standing looking at each other thinking the same thought, itís dry and there is suppose to be a storm coming, so, do we drop the tents and go home? Yes we should, no we shouldnít, yes we should, no, yes, no, yes We decide not to and it turned out to be the right decision, as we hear of a text from Anne saying it rained heavily all the way back to West Cumbria and that the ferry crossing was very rough. So rough they had to tie bikes down.
Sunday afternoon became a scientific experiment to see if women could be launched into the air using an airbed, the result was that they could be. Tracy made some tuna sarnies to keep us going and they were delicious. We had a fight (lads won), This was because, later in the afternoon, Tracy was making sweet and sour chicken and she needed water, so, whoever got the water didn't have to do the washing up. A great battle of magnitude entailed between the two lasses and the two lads, bodies being thrown to the ground from great heights and stamped on, we left Caroline and Tammy licking their wounds as Mike and myself ambled over to get some water, It was at this point that a pink umbrella could be seen above the tents trying to out flank us to the water, they never learn, do they? We easily out paced the little pinkie. Sunday night saw a Scotsman slice a haggis open, some highland dancing and some traditional Scottish singing. Haggis smells revolting but doesn't taste half bad although a bit dry. The floor of the marquee by this time is a mini quagmire and I am standing ankle deep in a water and woodchip mix. I missed Jude falling backwards into it, singing Auld Lang something. I head for my tent early and leave the rest to party. I donít sleep because itís raining heavy, the music from the band, the snoring that can be heard and people having a good natter among themselves.
Monday morning is dry and I drop my tent and pack the bike up. The others decide to have breakfast so I set off on my own and what a great ride home it was. Riding to a rally, itís good to stick together so you can pitch your tents close and look out for each other. Riding on your own is a change, keeping to your own pace and stopping when you want to stop, without having to take other peoples needs into account. I had a good crack with Minty, Mad Dog and Mad Bitch of the Lanchester Centurions on the ferry crossing and promised to attend their rally next year. The ride home was in glorious sunshine all the way to my home. I got most of my camping gear dry within a couple of hours but the big tent took a bit longer. Would I go back? As much as I enjoyed the rally, even though I had my gold dust caps nicked off my tyres (kids probably), I donít think I will be going back, however, I would recommend everyone to give it a go. The island is too small for me, and I would have liked to have had a rideout on the mainland roads.