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Old 02-12-2012, 01:02 PM   #1
Tarka OP
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Tarka`s 2012 Dragon Rally

Once again it`s that time of year....the Conwy MCC`s famous Dragon Rally.
Held in Snowdonia,North Wales.



Rumours were rife at last year`s 50th event that there would be no more but the 1,500 tickets for the 2012 event went on sale last October and were sold out in a few weeks.

For those who don`t know,you have to send a postal application and cheque for your ticket,and after a while a confirmation receipt is sent to you.
A few weeks before the event you get a sheet posted to you with directions to a control caravan in order to validate your receipt and get the actual ticket plus final directions to the rally site.
Thus there is a bit of adventure and the final site is more or less unknown to deter freeloaders and gatecrashers...although the control caravan is always within about ten miles of the location so you can get a rough idea by studying maps of the area.

So...Saturday February 11th 2012...and I`m woken by my mobile phone text alert at 7am.
It`s my friend Rod (inmate Agent Wayward) from Buckinghamshire about 230 miles away letting me know that he`s about to set off on a freezing cold and snowy morning.
I`m lovely and warm in bed with the central heating on so wish him a safe trip and go back to sleep for another hour....I`ll only have about a 60 mile ride to do,heh heh.

There`s no snow or ice where I live and by all accounts North Wales is clear too,but as usual I`ll be going on my beloved 650 Ural combo known as 'Skaya'.
This year will be the fifth Dragon Rally that Skaya has taken me to and it`s always great going away on her.

It`s always great going to rallies on any combo,actually,as there`s none of that faffing about trying to fit everything on a solo and making sure it`s all evenly loaded and secure....just lob it all in the sidecar if alone or on the big luggage racks with a passenger and away you go!
Plus you can take all sorts of creature comforts and all your food and drink.
Furthermore there`s no degradation of handling or suspension with the load either.

The photo below shows Skaya all loaded up and only the slight bulge in the sidecar tonneau cover is a giveaway that she`s actually loaded at all.



I took a nice route from the Wirral into Wales via Mold to Ruthin,then a beautiful ride through the Clogaenog Forest to Cerrigydrudion and finally up to Betws y Coed and Capel Curig where the control caravan was located.
An hour and a half after setting off I was there and was surprised to see hoards of bikes and a massive queue for the caravan.
There`s normally a dozen or so folk there at any time but I stood in line to get my ticket for nearly as long as I`d ridden for!



The Snowdon mountains loomed in the distance as we queued.



The Dragon Rally brings out all sorts of weird and wonderful machines but I don`t think this next one was headed our way.



A rumbling and roaring was heard as a mean and moody convoy of combos and camo clad riders appeared...it was my friends Shaggy,Buckles and Kevin who`d ridden over from Rotherham way.
I missed a photo of them riding but here`s their bikes parked up.



Here`s Shaggy`s nice Dnepr.



And here is Kevin`s 750 Ural and Buckle`s evil diesel engined Ural.
There`ll be more photos of the diesel later.



I finally got my ticket and directions to the site....it was necessary to ride through Capel Curig and then take the road for Beddgellert until just by Llyn Gwynant where you turn for a camp site.
Maybe 7 or 8 miles and we`ve arrived!



There`s quite a drop down into the site from the main road....it would have been fun if the was any snow or ice!



I rode around the site to pick a good spot for my tent...meeting several familiar faces from previous Dragon rallies and other events while doing so, and finally selected a decent spot away from the main thoroughfare and ameneties buildings in order to avoid out of control bikes and wayward pedestrians crashing into me during the night.



Quite a nice spot,actually....and a very pleasant camp site too.
Almost in a natural ampetheatre created by the surrounding mountains and with a small stream trickling past.











You get free soup and bread roll on arrival as well as a goodie bag with chocolate bars,rally sticker,miniature whisky bottle and a special slate plaque.
Once my tent was set up I walked to the ameneties buildings to get my goodies and was met immediately by one of the most colourful characters I`ve ever met at the Dragon.....a quite crazy and funny Polish guy called Chris who I first met last year.
He rides what he calls a 'Rooshian peece of sheet' which is an ISH 350.
He had set off at 5am that morning to only cover about 20 miles more than I had done and made great light of his average travel speed of 35.6 mph, saying that he tried for 36mph average but 'not possible' !!
Here`s Chris below.....told you he was a colourful and funny character.



He offered me a swig from a bottle of clear,heavy looking and decidely dubious liquid which I politely declined on an empty stomach...but the hurt expression on his face at my refusing his hospitality led to me taking a polite but small swig.
JEEZUS!! I don`t know what it was but if he`d put it in his fuel tank at 5am he`d have managed 100mph average!

I collected my goodies and had my soup with half a home made cheese pie provided by my girlfriend Lorraine (it saved me bringing my cooking gear or sampling the on site death burgers or cardiac chips...and was delicious too) and then went for a walk about to see who and what was about.

A few Post Apocalypse style trikes with mini folding caravans were in one corner.



Opposite them was a nice classic Lambretta scooter.



My friend Nick.ct turned up on his recently acquired and sorted out 750 Ural which he travelled from Derby to Scotland to collect,then dismantled in front of the vendor and loaded it into a standard car and small trailer for the journey home!



Then Rod (Agent Wayward) finally arrived after his bitterly cold ride. He was wearing good quality bike gear and had handlebar muffs on his bike but he was purple in the face and really,really cold.
He set up tent next to me while I got my kettle going and I thrust a mug of hot coffee in his hand and gave him some chocolate waffle sticks to eat.
That revitalised him enough to be almost presentable enough for a photo!



Then it was time to walk all the way back up the hill for Rod to get his goody bag (and one for a certain Mr.Miggins,but I`ll say no more about that,ahem...).
It`s a bit of a slog but gives a cracking view of the site.





.............THERE'S MORE TO COME....BACK SOON TO FINISH.............
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Tarka screwed with this post 02-13-2012 at 02:21 AM
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Old 02-12-2012, 01:49 PM   #2
skeetly
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I feel i must warn everyone that chatting to this pair (Steve & Rod) may result in a bad case of chairphoria.



Good to meet you and Rod. I'm still trying to persuade the missus that 3 wheels is a good idea......
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:29 PM   #3
Tarka OP
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........OKAY,I`m BACK AGAIN ! PART 2 ...................

Once Rod was fully equipped with goodie bags,and shocked back into life by the scary soup which made Crazy Chris`s bottle of clear liquid almost desirable,we went for a further look around the site.

We saw a BMW combo which stopped us in our tracks.....I was replaying over and over in my head why things looked odd until a loud gasp from Rod made me realise.
We didn`t meet the owner but if we had done the conversation may have rivalled an internet forum 'discussion' about sidecar set up.
Or maybe not as they most likely had colossal bicep muscles....well,on one arm anyway.
I`ll resist the urge to elaborate but unless there was an optical illusion at play this combo had several inches of toe-OUT and a fair bit of lean-IN !!!
See if the photos show it up...










Not much further along we met a few more friends/associates/reprobates (delete as applicable) of mine...
Three more sidecar nutters,the Rev Jay Phelps,Moses and Mad Mick from MPC.



And talking of nutters...we encountered a circle of people gathered around a person next to a bike.
It appeared to be some form of auction or demonstration until we got closer and saw the real reason.
Yep...Crazy Chris,who is a born raconteur and entertainer....answering questions and telling tales,jokes and dishing out the banter as if he was a one man comedy show.
Which he is really!!!



At one point he commented how his 11bhp 'Rooshan peece of sheet' left the factory with 'eleven horses.....but I don`t theenk many of them have survived' !!



More cheese pie,coffee,and chocolate waffle sticks followed this while Rod heated up a frozen block of 'Something Soup' which could have been anything at all,but apparently it was nice anyway.

Then it was time to climb the hill again and sample the wares avaialble from the bar...we weren`t too fussed about consuming vast quantities of alcohol,but we felt the need to sample at least one or two.
Time for a pint then!



Or..in Rod`s words..'Aahh,right...the famous ticket scam'!

I think the cashless bar at rallies is a good idea,as it saves a lot of time and hassle,but I do agree that while not quite a scam,people do tend to find themselves spending more than they might otherwise.
In this case it was two tickets for 6 or four tickets for 11 which meant that the four I bought worked out at 2.75 a pint....not excessive and better value than the 3 a pint if you only bought two tickets.

An evening of biking bolleux ensued with all kinds of crazy future bike trips plotted...including scooter trips to Italy while dressed in 1970`s charity shop clothes,scooters with sidecars and putting the world to rights on any subject you care to mention plus others that you wouldn`t care to mention.
A highlight was chatting outside with Mick from MPC while a guy stood behind us for about 45 minutes saying nothing....how we laughed and how he swore when he finally asked if we were in the burger queue!!!

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 12th 2012
And then it was morning.....once again Rod managed to wake me with all sorts of wheezing,creaking and gasps.
I`m hoping it was the sound of him packing up all his camping gear but I`m too polite and scared to ask........

A surprisingly mild night led to a misty but quite okay morning...the next few photos were taken at only around 8am...not bad for North Wales in February!





Here`s Rod loading his bike and trying to make a quick getaway from what`s now known as his Blagging Rally instead of Dragon Rally....I promised not to publicise the chocolate waffles,toffee crepes,hot mugs of coffee and two pints of beer he blagged fom me in exchange for two foam cups of coffee but I lied....here is the accusation!!!!
I had to check that there was still petrol in my Jerrycan before he left!



Once Rod had left,I took my time packing up and went for another look about as there was no rush home for me....it made a nice change to have a rally quite close to home instead of the usual four or five hours.

This guy was camped opposite me....he was with two mates and they were playing an esoteric mix of Welsh music,Russian music and 50s/60s faves on Friday night....they loved my Russian flag and he offered me some very nice home made sloe gin.
His coat was covered in Russian badges and he had a hip flask with even more on it.



Here`s his bike.



It`s a Dnepr fitted with a BMW R80 engine.







One of his friends was aboard a fun looking two stroke Honda CRM with a Velosolex type sidecar...perfect for the Stella Alpina,I reckon!





Here`s another interesting and purposeful looking off road combo.
I think it`s a Wasp outfit fitted with a Yamaha engine.







While I was unpacking after arrival on the Saturday,someone asked me if I was Tarka.....this was Tony who I met at the 2010 Dragon Rally!
Just goes to show the amazing social nature of this rally.
Here`s Tony looking set for the week,never mind just Sunday brekkie!





And after the photo of Tony feeding has face,here`s a swallow of a different kind.....an ancient Swallow sidecar attached to an old Norton. A Dragon regular,it`s nice to see it still earning its keep.



Fancy bringing your 7000 classic Brit bike to the Dragon Rally ???
Someone did.........



There wasn`t any snow here at the Dragon this year,but the owner of this Africa Twin wouldn`t have been worried.....it`s got SKIS fitted!





The Mad Max trike bunch wre packing up to leave as I walked about.



It was good to see some more scooters....
Another early Lambretta.





And a later Vespa PX model.



Back to combos again...here`s another Dnepr...there were quite a few this year but much more Urals.





Then there was the first of the new XTZ1200 Yamahas that I`ve seen.




BACK AGAIN IN A MOMENT....PC ABOUT TO CRASH !!
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Tarka screwed with this post 02-12-2012 at 03:35 PM
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:55 PM   #4
Tarka OP
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Phew...I`m back...nearly lost all the above posting as I don`t think my netbook likes running a Photobucket tab as well as this one while I compose a Ride Report.


Well,apart from a quick greeting on Saturday I hadn`t seen my friends Shaggy,Buckles,Laughing Gas,Kev or their friends all Rally,and I only just managed to stumble across them before they set off for home.
We managed a half hour chat and a few photos for Mr.Cob before they had to leave.
Here they all are together about to set off.



Here`s Kev with his Ural...he turned up at Shaggy`s house with a machine gun on his sidecar when I was there last year with Mr.Cob on the Cob Relay!(see RR for pics!)



And here`s Buckles with the big bad diesel engined Ural special.
What a beast.
The bike`s quite gnarly too,heh heh.







All that remained for me was to pack up my camping gear and get changed into my riding kit.

Another pleasant hour and a half`s ride on the same route as Saturday (but in the reverse direction,of course,heh heh) and I was back at Chateau Tarka.

Once more a brilliant,enjoyable and friendly Dragon Rally.
Top marks and big thanks to the Conwy MCC for organising and running it so well.
Hoping that 2013 will bring us the 52nd one.
Hope too that you`ve enjoyed my report.









THANKS FOR READING !!!
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Old 02-14-2012, 12:23 AM   #5
Eaglebeak
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Hi Tarka, some great pictures in that report.
It certainly looks cold.

We've just had a number of days over here in Perth with the temperature over 35 C.

Thanks for posting.

Andrew.

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Old 02-14-2012, 12:59 AM   #6
Ady1961
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Hi mate

Fab write up there my friend made me wish i was there with ya.

See you next week mate...........Ady
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:08 AM   #7
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nice write up Tarka

I was one on the guys on the Dnjepr camped oposite you, Flew in from Iceland to be able to get to the Rally with my " Russion" friend

great experience
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:41 PM   #8
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Enjoyed your rally report and all those pics
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:01 AM   #9
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Great rally report mate, excellent photo's also, only done one dragon rally myself, back in 1990 me and a mate of mine attended on a pair of yamaha 350 lc's, remember the weather in north wales that weekend not been too unkind but i'll never forget the ride back to hull on the sunday afternoon, it was a test of the nerves going back over the pennines that day, fond memories though and this thread has brought some back to me.

Cheers, Keith.
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Old 03-10-2012, 08:59 PM   #10
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awsome pictures thanks
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Old 03-11-2012, 01:26 AM   #11
Tarka OP
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Thanks for the replies and compliments fellas!
And hello again to those who were there.

For those interested,here are a couple more of my earlier Dragon Rally reports.
This first one is the 2010 event.

http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...ighlight=Tarka

Sorry...I`ve searched for ages for the 2011 report (the 50th Dragon) but either it`s vanished or I didn`t write it up after all....despite being the 50th event it was rather tame so maybe I didn't.
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Old 05-10-2012, 05:37 AM   #12
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Brilliant!

I stumbled across this thread while looking for something else.
Good to see the Dragon still chugging along 30 odd years after we were regulars.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:23 PM   #13
Nickp500
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Great write up! Just got my tickets through for the 2013, I was there for the 2012 and met Chris, what a character! He was there with a couple of friends of mine, Roger and Trevor, Trevor is the one who road that lovely Velocette. This time he will be on his BMW R69s! which is even nicer in my opinion and worth considerably more, but is apparently a very good winter bike with it being so low, steering damper leading links ect.
I will be on my ex army Armstrong and will probably have the sidecar fitted. See you there!
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