One a sunny, hot and very pleasant day where dust was my biggest problem And one (very) wet, muddy and slippery where staying upright was my biggest problem!
The drive up on Friday was not without incident, heavy traffic on both the A1(M) and the A64 meant a long, slow trip eventually arriving around 6.30 in the evening. Unlike in previous years where the Rally was based a few miles from Pickering in a farmers field, actually a few miles from just about anything! This year it was based in the village of Goathland nestling in the heart of the North Yourk Moors.
Goathland is perhaps better known to viewers of Sunday Evening "comfort telly" as Aidensfield, the setting for the Heartbeat series that was set in the 1960's. Indeed you can still see "Aidensfield Garage" and one of the pubs, The Goathland Hotel still bears it's "Aidensfield Arms" sign on one side. The village clearly still cashing in on the series and judging by the hoards of tourists, it still works!
The village also has a station on the North York Moors Railway (A private steam railway) that also doubled up as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter movies (not to mention various other period TV and Film railway stations).
The Aidensfield Arms AKA The Goathland Hotel
The following morning dawned bright and sunny and registration was dealt with and the bike given a quick check over before scrutineering
Scrutineering was a formality and the bike was placed in the parc ferme (i.e. the corner of the camping field) ready for the start.
At the rider briefing a few people were surprised to learn the days route was to be 180 miles as the final instructions said 130 miles. This did cause some concern as the trailer carrying everyone's spare fuel had already left so no chance sending out extra. I had a full 13 litre front tank and had sent out my 10 litre can, so I reckoned that was good enough.
At 10.08 I was on the start line ready to go when the battery decided it was flat! Luckily it starts easily on the kickstart so I was only a couple of minutes late starting! The first section was a liaison along the A168. This had been recently resurfaced with loose chippings and had the usual "maximum speed 20mph" signs out..... needless to say we all ignored them.
The lap started at the same place as usual so whilst waiting for my start time, I topped up my fuel to find I needed a lot more than I anticipated as I'd only ridden ten miles!
Whilst the new lap used a lot of previous year's tracks, there was also a lot of new track too. Also the familiar bits were not in the same order as previous years so suddenly I'd realise I was on a familiar bit and anticipating where I was going next only to suddenly find myself on a completely new bit.
The course was fantastic with a real variety of tracks, fast fire roads, snotty forest sections and everything in-between. The special stage came right at the end of the first lap and had a lot of familiar elements from previous years. On the first lap it's not timed to allow "sighting" and went OK. After the first lap, the bike wasn't looking so clean and shiny...
I topped up the fuel and was surprised to find I used the rest of my 10 litre can but couldn't quite fill the tank. Oh well nothing I could do but carry on for the next two (52 mile) laps and see how I could get on.
The next two laps included a timed special and I went fairly well on the first. On the second I felt I was going even quicker but managed to drop the bike in one technical section so knew my time would suffer. We eventually finished and then headed back to Goathland in convoy, to awaiting photographers on the hump backed bridge over the railway, then into the village past hoards of tourists. Sure beats turning up in a field in the middle of nowhere.
The good news was that I had completed the 114 miles from the last fuel fill without going onto reserve.
Later that evening, results were posted and I was lying in 8th place in the Rally Class, so I was quite pleased with that. My second timed special had been 17 seconds slower than the first so I guess I had been going quicker as it certainly took me longer than that to pick myself up, get back on the bike and get going again.
After dinner followed by a couple of pints in the "Aidensfield Arms" we retired to bed, only to be woken by very heavy rain during the night, a foretaste of what was to come on Sunday....