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SAR 2021 Autumn Weekender

SAR 2021 Autumn Weekender: This year’s Autumn Weekend away took place 24th to 26th September. Day one: With 15 of us connected via our Bluetooth headsets, we set off from Stafford on 14 Motorcycles ( Yes that’s right, Irene was with Dave, keeping him on the right side of the road and ensuring he’d taken his Tourette’s medication) !! Our Chairman Arf lead the first stint out of Staffordshire and across the county line into sunny Shropshire. A winding route via Craven Arms, Penybont and down to Devils Bridge for breakfast. Gary used his wealth or group riding experience to keep the pack together. Then the weather down there took a distinctly wet turn, with visibility down to just a few meters in places. We proceeded with caution and pulled into the excellent Two Hoots Tea Room for a well earned break. Roger set about collecting “voluntarily” contributions from every member that will boost our charitable donation fund. Meanwhile Nick P. got close and personal with a couple of local birds !!

The next leg was ably lead by Scott, who’s planned route was immediately disrupted by a local road closures. Calmly, Scott quickly plotted a new route to get us across the beautiful Brecon Beacons. However, progress was quickly halted when Arf picked up a front tyre puncture as we climbed up into the Beacons. After a spot of TLC the tyre was re- inflated and we were back on the road again. Later in the morning heavy traffic, diversions and roadworks further thwarted Scott’s efforts to make good progress. After a further stop for air we reached Blaenavon before the front tyre on Arfs bike gave out again. This time it was terminal ! After a quick discussion we left Arf to await recovery. Then another blow as the rest of the group was waiting news of Arfs situation, Richard’s bike decided to give up and refused to start. Efforts to get Richards bikes restarted were in vain. So another rider was left to await recovery. The rest of the pack continued onwards, battling the congestion and further roadworks along the way. The low, brilliant sunshine making it hard to see the route ahead. Crossing the Severn Estuary and as time was marching on, took a more direct route to our hotel in Taunton. After a wash n brush up, an eagerly awaited meal and liquid refreshment was taken in the eatery opposite the hotel. Arf, eventually tuned up later in the evening thanks to the Stirling service’s of Nick Randell of Nick Randell Motorcycles who’d recovered Arfs stricken bike and fitted a new front tyre. Randall Motorcycles I have been repairing and restoring motorcycles for the last 18 years. I was the chief mechanic for a specialist off road and street motorcycle centre in South Wales. Richard, wasn’t quite so fortunate with his efforts to get recovered by his breakdown provider and had to get a taxi to alternative accommodation for the night. Meanwhile, back in Taunton Simon had secured the group’s guesses at the “end of trip mileage “ before we all retired for the first evening. Day Two: Following Breakfast we said goodbye to Yam who was making his way back north to satisfy one of his customers !! ( well that’s what he told us) We got word that Richard was having to make is way back to Staffordshire on the train while his bike would be recovered later. The rest of the group a couple of riders lighter we headed out , this time Roger was leading. Roger lead us out into the beautiful Somerset countryside on a cool misty morning. Awesome route up into the Quantock hills with tarmac unfolding before us , through deep wooded valleys and open high moorland and with the second person drop system working seamlessly, we made our way across to Lynmouth. A welcome drink and food were waiting at the excellent Pavilion Dining Room overlooking the Bristol Channel. Weather was perfect as we gazed across to the South Wales coast on the opposite side. Lynmouth

Refreshed, we headed out and up into the North Devon countryside, again a brilliant route by Roger as we swept along winding roads, through pretty little villages to our lunch stop at the quintessentially English Appledore. Ice cream in Appledore.

Setting off again, this time Simon took up the lead. making our way south we crossed into our next county. In Cornwall we kissed the coast again as we rolled into Bude, we didn’t stop for fear of being mobbed by Mansell’s local fan club. Being an honorary citizen of Bude we were all looking forward to Mansell’s guided tour of the town. Eager to hear about the town’s rich history and heritage ……Mansell distilled his expansive knowledge into the locations of the mose welcoming pubs and the best place to get a pie ! The next leg of Simons route was motorcycle heaven, twisty roads with roller coaster hills and sweeping curves all the way. Eventually we arrived back at our hotel for a much needed dinner and a pint or two. Great banter over dinner this evening, lots of laughter and recanted biking stories. Mansell sorted out a lottery ticket and we eventually all retired to bed , safe in the knowledge that we’d probably not be millionaires by the time the sun came up. Day Three:

Panniers attached and bags secured, we set off into another misty morning lead by Billy Bob. Again the roads didn’t disappoint… plenty of twistys to keep us all fully focused as we made our way towards Glastonbury. A heady mixture of roads and lanes here, over flat fields and what must be the most subsidence affected stretch of tarmac in the area. Everyone’s suspension travel was tested to the max as the undulating surface kept everyone’s concentration focused. Ted was “on it”, his Triumph taking corners like it was on rails until one corner bit back and nearly snatched his footpeg from his Triumph frame . Undeterred, Ted quickly whipped out his spanners and while Arf was still picking bits of Triumph footpeg out of his teeth, Ted had the footpeg re-secured we were back on our way. Meeting up with the rest of the group in the fantastic Cheddar Gorge. Mmm, Yep..,, it’s bent !!

Rolling on again , we headed up the gorge. We could see the local wild goats balancing effortlessly on the rocky ledges, making the nearby rock climbers look like complete amateurs. The magic words “ Tea n Cake”. suddenly came through our Bluetooth sets as Billy Bob swung into the lovely New Manor Farm Tea Rooms in the glorious Chew Valley. Here we enjoyed tea, coffee and cake , whist chatting to a great bunch of guys who were out on a cycle ride. The array of carbon fibre and muscle packed Lycra quickly grabbed Irene’s attention while Dave munched his way through a big wedge of Victoria sponge. Billy Bob rounded us up and we set off northward again. Passing the Beautiful woodlands at Westonbirt we headed on with only light traffic to negotiate, our route took us into the Cotswolds and up to Bourton-on-the-Water for lunch. As we parked up, Mansell explained that he’d experienced some misfire issues with his bike, he put this down to a possible faulty spark plug, so decided to carry on back to Staffordshire directly using a shorter route. The town was busy with tourists enjoying a perfect warm September afternoon. Picnics on the grass , summer dresses and ice cream seemed to be well in evidence all around. We waved off Mansell as we headed off again. The final leg of our 3 day trip was lead by Nick P. Nick had meticulously planned out this route, avoiding as many major roads as possible. We wriggled our way up through Gloucestershire and onward into Worcestershire. Skirting the city of Worcester and heading up the eastern side of the city we headed out into the northern fringes of Herefordshire and then into Shropshire. The turns and twists were many and we all had a plenty of opportunity to marshal second person drops. The other Nick, Nick T. was doing a grand job to guide the tail of the group back into Staffordshire. Ted left the group at this point to find a more direct road back. Finally we rolled into back into stafford in the late afternoon sun . We waved cheerio to Scott before ending our trip on a supermarket car park.

One final act was the “ guess the mileage competition “. With eager anticipation we listen as Simon checked his odometer and announced that we’d covered 725 miles. Gill was the closest, guessing 720 miles ….. incredibly just 5 miles short!!! This means of course, Gill will be picking the lottery numbers on the the next trip !

Gill collects her winnings from Simon You’ll be glad to hear,Mansell, Ted and Richard all made it safely home and Richards bike was also safely recovered. Thanks go to all the riders who lead and TEC’d our weekend away. Thanks to all the riders who came along and especially Irene to kept a close eye on everyone’s position in the pack , keeping “all the chickens in the basket “ . Of course, non of this would have been possible without our brilliant Social Secretary, Simon.

Simon we all thank You for all your time and effort ensuring no matter if we didn’t do every mile of the route, we all had a fabulous trip. Riders: Simon, Roger, Richard, Billy Bob, Ted, Nick T , Nick P, Arf, Dave, Irene, Gill, Gary, Scott, Yam and Mansell.

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