The forecast for the weekend wasn’t looking good as I packed the van to head off for Llanidloes and the Hafren Rally. It was nice to have plenty of room to pack as even with the bike in the back, there seemed to be far too much room. A marked improvement from when I used to shoehorn everything into the back of the Land Rover. The van even got some new (magnetic) graphics.....
A couple more advantages over towing the bike trailer soon became evident as it was nice to be able to a) drive at 70 mph on the motorway and b) be allowed to use the outside lane. Traffic was also light so apart from a small bit of queueing on the motorway and regular stops for lunch, coffee, petrol (for the bike) and a shopping trip in Welshpool, I made Llanidloes in just over four hours. By now the weather was not at all pleasant with gusting winds and frequent driving rain. Another advantage also became apparent, it’s much easier to find a parking spot without a trailer!
I had about an hour to kill before early registration was taking place at the Rugby Club House in town. So considered driving up to the Sweet Lamb Rally Complex but as I had nothing to set up and it’s a pretty bleak place at the best of times, I didn’t see any reason as it was now dark and would be pitch black whatever time I rolled up. So after finding a spot in the car park near the club house, I wandered down to the Red Lion for a drink.
Here I bumped into a bunch of guys from High Wycombe most of whom were doing the Hafren for the first time so was pumped for information. We eventually wandered down to the club house, where signing on was quickly sorted and a hearty “buffet” of chicken curry, chilli con carne and chips was the order of the day. After catching up with a few friends I decided to drive the 20 minutes up to Sweet Lamb and set up camp. As I guessed sticking the race numbers on when soaking wet might be tricky, I did them in the warm and dry in the back of the van!
Arriving at the venue, signs directed me not to the usual spot but another flattish area higher up the valley side this was particularly bleak with the wind now very strong, approaching gale force and the rain was heavy and horizontal! After driving around what turned out to be a rather more sloping site than I first realised with only about ten vans, caravans and motorhomes present, I found a flattish spot behind a couple of other vans who had spotted the potential of a small flat area (note to self, must get some levelling ramps for the van).
I did consider just shuffling the bike to one side and putting the camp bed up but thought that the inevitable petrol fumes would not be too healthy. So after donning full waterproofs and wellies I got the bike out, parked it up on what was possibly the leeward side of the van (it was difficult to tell) and strapped it to one of the van wheels to stop it blowing over in the wind. I also bolted on the navigation tower and fairing as I thought I could do it in the morning but as I was already out in the cold and wet I might as well get it done.
The" Hotel Vito"
I then retreated back into the warmth and dry of the van (I had left the engine running and the heater on full blast throughout) and after stripping off my wet gear, got myself set up for the night. Unfolding the camp bed and crawling into my four season sleeping bag I decided it was too early to turn in for the night so fired up the lap top to watch a film. San Andreas was the chosen movie and the special earthquake effects were certainly added too by the frequent gusts of wind rocking the van!