Aaanyway, I picked up ev1ldonut from his house and made our way to kissycat1000's, who had been feeling ill. I made her promise to have an early night so we didn't feel ill over the weekend. Apparently I am to blame for it NOT happening that way because I handed out the beers shortly after arriving. I was just in the mood for a beer, okay?
Slightly concerned I hadn't actually planned a route, so arranged to meet with stuartl at the pub an hour early to thrash one out.
Saturday morning - kids off, clean, adjust and oil bike bits, wait for dylan and ghostpaw to arrive, forgot to pack the car, pack the car in a rush (shit, the tent!), watch kissycat1000 drive off with ev1ldonut, leaving her bag with her purse and phone safely.. in the house. Luckily I saw it and packed it.
The weather for the weekend held out as the weathermen promised it would - not too sunny but not raining made for perfect riding conditions :) I did check the projected weather myself to judge how accurate the forecast was likely to be by the proximity of other (bad) weather to the UK but it was pretty damn clear :)
A nice ride down the A40 from Cheltenham to Oxford. The pub is on the A40. I knew that the A40 becomes the M40 shortly before the pub, so I wanted to stay on the A40. However, it wasn't called that and I chickened out, deciding to go on the M40, as I knew the pub was at junction 7. The sign as I got on the M40 kindly told me I was at junction 6, so it should be the next junction, right? Wrong. We travelled for far too long, before seeing a sign for junction 8. I turned off and pulled up, before calling the pub (luckily I had the foresight to program the phone with the number beforehand). It turns out junction 7 is only available if you're going westbound! Gah! So, about turn, off at junction 7 and find the pub (after carefully riding past it the first time, just to be sure, you know). stuartl had just arrived. kissycat1000 and ev1ldonut beat us there too.
Some drinks, some had some food. markbanang arrived with uberredfraggle. The route was discussed and eventually instead of trying to do an impromptu route we decided to ride to a nearby bike show at Chinnor. stuartl does a good job of describing the show (amongst other things) in his post here. The atmosphere was great and we got to see a lot of interesting bikes, including a drag bike based around a harley engine which won the prize for the loudest bike. It didn't so much have exhausts as short.. pipes. I was a bit fearful when they wheeled out a two-battery starter motor to actually start the damn thing. I WANT one. As well as the 6.7 litre chevvy engined trike with wheels that would have put most tractors to shame. The low throbbing that machine gave out was orgasmic. I WANT one of those too ;)
We then arrived at a Harley shop which was having a big bash for some reason and got to see lots of lovely fat Harleys. I still reckon I ought to have a Harley/cruiser despite their impracticalities and crap handling. I've been working it out, I think I need three bikes - an old beaten up fast sports bike for racing, a tourer for every day and a fat harley with loads of chrome for town/cruising/relaxing. So, house with a double garage then? Like that's going to happen any time soon *sigh*.
For the actual ride after the show and the shop, we followed markbanang on a route he made up (as he knows the roads around there the best) which went well, but I did have to ask him to stick to the 30 limit in built up areas - my fault, I should have given him some guidelines before he started. The riding itself was fun, we all played sensibly and there were no breakdowns or mishaps so I consider it a success.
So, despite the lack of planning we had a fun day and saw lots of interesting things as well, which a pre-planned route might have been too rigid to take in. It kinda organised itself, all without my help too :) (okay, thanks stuartl and markbanang for basically sorting out the routes and uberredfraggle for her local knowledge and finding the pub!)
Back to the pub via a supermarket for munchies and extra beer. On the way back from the supermarket we got confused because the lead and another rider who knew the way were in different lanes at the roundabout. Of course the lights went red leaving dylan and myself to guess which way they'd gone. I followed dylan who went what turned out to be the wrong way. Luckily I remembered how to get back to the pub and had dylan follow me as I followed the right signs to get there :)
We decided to set up tents and whatnot before the meal. The meal was great - good quality simple food cooked to perfection. The lovely landlord Tim and landlady Pamela took great pains to make sure everything was done properly (without being in our faces all the time) and showed us respect (that's rare, believe me!). They are top people and lovely, the pub is airy and spacious with a pool table and great food. They have live bands every Saturday and a blues night every Thursday (I believe). See my initial bike meet post for details. They have a field which they're in the process of clearing out, and are biker friendly. They're happy to have people (patrons) camp there free of charge too :). I thoroughly recommend them to anyone thinking about biking in the area.
The meal and long day made us all quite sleepy, so after sorting out the airbeds we had just one pint in the bar before all collapsing into our respective tents, or nearly. kissycat1000 mentions that in her post (amongst other things) here :).
Not much sleep was had - due to the music, not the fact that we were all 'swingers' and in the 'bonking tent' as the locals believed..! Oh, and kissycat1000 IS a squeaky toy, and we proved it *prod* *grin* ;)
I woke up early on the Sunday morning feeling pretty groggy and wiped out. Eventually we all surfaced and stuartl came back. We packed up the tents into the car and left the car at uberredfraggle's house while we went for another ride. dylan and ghostpaw left to go home, dylan didn't want to get back too late and wasn't as used to riding as the rest of us.
We went for another ride, this time with stuartl leading at least one part of the ride. He was very restrained.. until we got to a stretch of dual carriageway. I knew he was going to do it and I managed to just about keep up with him until we got to about 100mph when he started disappearing off into the distance. He reports he got to 140mph. I wasn't too far behind, touching 120mph before braking. Apparently his bike isn't quite right as he explains in his post, but mine certainly needs the carbs cleaning and balancing yet again. I will get around to sorting the tank out so I won't have to keep putting the embarassing rain cover on and getting the carbs cleaned *sigh*. Of course, not wanting it to sound like an excuse but I *did* have the heaviest load being the biggest bike; myself and ev1ldonut, although I know I was definitely the biggest problem in the equation *grin*.
Anyway, we got back to uberredfraggle's where we all went our separate ways. kissycat1000 took the car back to Cheltenham and I took ev1ldonut (with helmet donated by uberredfraggle!) back to Bristol via the scenic route (A420, M4, A350, A420 again) and had lots of fun on the way back, riding more confidently after the weekend of practise and ev1ldonut being an excellent pillion. ev1ldonut talks about that in his post here
After seeing aeia's post (and picture here) about her racing days and my experience taking Mat home where I raced a Porsche Boxter through Bristol (and won, of course) I think I want to do something like that, possibly at Castle Combe, with fiendster amongst others. I believe I can take it sensibly enough so I don't bin my bike (my only transport) but still have fun :)
Sorry to those who couldn't make it. Hopefully there'll be another one if the weather holds out into Autumn that you lot can all make. Other than that the plans all went off without a hitch and everyone had a great time I think :)