Posts Tagged ‘bravo zulu’

Some time ago whilst amusing myself on t’interwebs, I came across a motorcycle rally. Unlike previous rallies I’d attended which mainly involved falling over in fields, this one seemed to mainly be based on actually riding the bikes…

In the vein of orienteering the National Road Rally is a “scatter” rally where you attempt to ride between control points, trying to keep the mileage covered and number of control points to meet certain category requirements. In essence it is one large excuse for a rideout. So having persuaded a friend to accompany me, we awaited our packs to drop through the letterbox with 2 weeks to go…

The  planning pack!

The planning pack!

The maps and information arrived promptly with 2 weekends to go so we set to planning our route. Quickly it became apparent that there was not much in the way of controls in the north east. So we would have to head south a little bit to Thirsk for our first “start” control. Thereafter you have to try an plot a route taking in enough control points and covering a mileage appropriate to your category – we decided to be bold and aim for the gold daytime category. Basically visit 12 control points, in less than 10 hours with mileages between 260 and 280 miles.
Planning the route seems simple, provided with a matrix of the points and the mileage values for the legs all you have to do is work a route out within your mileage limits and going roughly where you want. All seemed vaguely familiar to riders of a certain age…

Mind the aspidistra!

Mind the aspidistra!

So having constructed routes, prepped bikes and made some route notes, we set off…

All set for the off....

All set for the off….

Our first control and start point was Teasdale bikes in Thirsk.

Stamp me!

Stamp me!

We quickly realised that a) There were a lot of fantastic bikes of all vintages about to set off and b) most of them were heading our way!
Thirsk - Not just our start point it seemed...

Thirsk – Not just our start point it seemed…

Even more starters...

Even more starters…

2 blokes, half a head of hair...

2 blokes, half a head of hair and not on top…

A rather sedate and gentlemanly start ensued as dozens of bikes set off on their first leg. We all wound our way out of Thirsk heading west towards Harrogate. We took it steady rather than tearing off, simply enjoying being in company with some superb vintage bikes instead.

Our 2nd control was near Harrogate, kindly manned by the Ilkley and District Motor Club. Already a queue had formed awaiting stamps but we were quickly and efficiently onwards having gained our first stamp on the road.

Harrogate. Fine gents giving me my first stamp

Harrogate. Fine gents giving me my first stamp

At this point we got our first taste of some of the weather in store as we set off for Skipton. The heavens opened, my gopro mount gave up the ghost (new sticky pad up to the job my arse) and they say you should never ride frustrated and angry. Well I proved it. Having blasted past the control point I tried for a quick u-turn in a barely used layby to discover it was inches deep in glistening wet mud. Fortunately no bikers went past as I picked myself up off the deck suitably embarrassed having dropped this bike for it’s first time ever. No-one to blame but myself, and a good wake up call. Luckily no-one saw so let’s keep it between ourselves ok?

A good check over to make sure the bike was ok to continue and I headed back to the control where I collected my wits and a third stamp from the chaps from BMF north west. Then, reunited up with my buddy we headed on…

Skipton. Got there in the end...

Skipton. Got there in the end…

The rain kept on and off as we headed for out of Skipton towards our next control at Accrington, Apologies to the Amigos running the control, completely forgot to grab a quick photo!

The next control was a “virtual” control at Wigan. This is one you count towards your controls and mileage but not actually a point to visit. We logged it on out way to the next manned control at Warrington. This was probably our longest stretch on motorways and dual carriage ways as we skirted Manchester, and again the West proved to be the wet side of the country.

Warrington. More stamps and a break...

Warrington. More stamps and a break…

We reckoned this was about half way round for us, so after collecting our next stamps courtesy of the guys from the Moto Guzzi owners club we decided it was a good time for a rest break as the control which was at a full set of services. Got to keep fed and hydrated!

No idea how w stay this trim....

No idea how w stay this trim….

We set off for Congleton and all the rain we had seen so far was as but a light bit of drizzle. At times we were reduced to a crawl in sheeting torrents and roads became rivers. Wetsuits would have been more in keep rather than waterproofs. We eventually pulled into the Anchor Inn where the local Congleton and District Motorcycle club bravely manned the awning where we got our stamps and laughed in the face of the elements…

We gave up on any hope that the weather would let up and headed back out into the storm on our way to Ashbourne. The friendly gents from the Vincent Owners Club stamped us up – Apologies again as I completely forgot to grab a quick photo mainly due to my buddy showing up with cakes he rustled up from the local bakery whilst I got fuel.

The ride on towards Tideswell should have been through some spectacular countryside and rock formations in the Derbyshire National Park. What we could mainly see was copious amounts of water however. More and more bloody water. I swear I saw the animals paring up and looking for an ark at this point. I’m pretty sure we took the scenic route as well, but as the visibility was more akin to something from the shipping forecast I can’t be sure.

Tideswell. Manned by lovely ladies

Tideswell. Manned by lovely ladies

We found the control and like sirens tempting sailors the lovely ladies from The Anchor stampers marshals tried to waylay us with pieces of fish and chips. Our resolve held though, and we managed to get away with just our stamps and maybe a few small pieces of home made millionaires shortbread…

Tideswell. He can sniff choccy cake from 2 miles....

Tideswell. He can sniff choccy cake from 2 miles….

We turned east and north once more as we began the return journey to the northeast in earnest at this point. We skirted Sheffield and crossed the M1 to the Moto Demon Speed Shop at Rotherham. As if to light our way home the weather finally cleared as well, and we began to see dry roads for the first time in hours.

Rotherham. The guys there were setting up for the night...

Rotherham. The guys there were setting up for the night…

There was a definite party atmosphere at the shop as they were gearing up to go through the night for the riders on the hardcore rally categories. As relative newbies however we had a schedule to keep, so after a short break for more food and caffeine we headed Barnsley bound…
Rotherham. He found the food again...

Rotherham. He found the food again…

Our penultimate control was courtesy of the Barnsley Bikers Club. A fleeting stop as we pushed on to make sure we could keep to our time limit.

Barnsley. End almost in sight...

Barnsley. End almost in sight…

Despite the highways agency’s best plans in closing the M1 (top tip for future rallies – check the planned road closures!) we still made our final control at Squire Biker Cafe with plenty of time to spare

Last stop. Squires Cafe.

Last stop. Squires Cafe.

Squires provided an ideal last port of call – the cafe and bar was open so we could bask in the glow of a great day and grab some more caffeine and admire our completed stamp collection..
Proud of my stamp collection

Proud of my stamp collection

The cafe allowed us a chance to talk over the day before setting off home. We both agreed on the whole a cracking day out. Some great scenery, if seen through a rain soaked visor. Definitely some great people met. The true test of the day was that we both immediately agreed it was something we would do again…

Back on the bikes to head home

Back on the bikes to head home

After a few days I’ve had the chance to consider the rally and there’s a few points for anyone considering it for a first time.
First up, just bloody do it!. The absolute worst that can happen is you don’t enjoy it and sack it early. Not much of a loss is it? The best that can happen? a fantastic ride out, meet loads of great people, see loads of great bikes and explore some of this fine land.
To help on the way –

  • Plan but be flexible. By all means have a route, but be aware of alternate fuel stops, roads etc
  • Take breaks. Drinks and food are a must. they help you stay alert and on the ball.
  • Any bike can do it! I saw scooters, classics, crutch-rockets, endurance tourers, customs and my own VN900C SE cruiser. If you can ride it on roads it’ll get round.
  • Make friends. Every person, and I mean every single person I met on the rally was friendly and happy to chat, give advice, tips, routes and laughs.
  • So hopefully I’ll you out there next year. I’ll maybe even go through the night this time!

    Finally, and the most important thing I wanted to say. The rally exists only because of the volunteers who give their time and effort so freely. Huge thanks are due to each and every one of them out there. not just those on my route, but at every control, behind the scenes, everywhere. Thank you all. See you next year!

    For those of a techy bent. I used an app called Glympse on an android phone whilst on the rally. It broadcasts your gps location to a web based map which you can send the link to via email, facebook, even texts. This allowed Mrs Spider to keep up to date with our progress and seemed to work really well – just remember to keep modifying the time period you are sharing for as it has a limit of 4 hours, but you can keep extending it. For a free app I was quite impressed!

    Been quiet of late I know. But here’s another one for the good stuff list.

    If you’re on Teesside and interesting in anything linked to cycling then get yourself down to GLG Cycles in Thornaby. They’ve just opened again after a brief spell shut due to a fire.

    I’m by no means a “cyclist” and recently got myself a bike again after 15, 20, a long time off of bikes. Sent there by a friends recommendation I’m glad I did. Gary who runs it provides a friendly welcoming service and by no means a hard sell (even recommending cheaper bikes than I budgeted for!) He was happy to provide friendly easy going advice, so even if you know nothing like me you don’t feel embarrassed.

    I am however a keen internet user and obviously shopped around before spending my hard earned, and the prices are easily comparable to what you find online – with better advice and the ability to pop back in if you’ve any issues.

    So if you need anything cycling related on Teesside you know where to go. Thank me later.

    Bravo Zulu.

    you can find them here

    View Larger Map

    Forgive the lack of remembrance post, away drinking at a good friends wedding north of the wall in soon to be free Scotland! (great day, and great to see them so happy – best wishes for the future  – you know who you are!)

    So back to it!

    Rememberance also marked the passing of a proper British hero. Sir Rex Masterman Hunt KCMG, most famous as governor of the Falkland Islands at the time of the Argentine invasion.

    During his career he also served as a Sptfire pilot, and having joined the Colonial and Diplomatic Services went on to serve in all the nicest location including postings in Uganda, Sarawak, Brunei, Turkey, Indonesia, South Vietnam, Malaysia and the Falkland Islands. Hunt was appointed the Consul-General at the British Embassy in Saigon in 1974 and was there at the time of the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.

    The best snippets I have found are that as the Argentines closed in on Stanley, and with time short he sent all his staff to safety and having told them to take only their most valuable possession his housekeeper took a framed picture of HM Queen and a bottle of gin. As you would probably expect by now, knowing the sort of man he was, he remained with the few Royal Marines as his residence quickly became the centre of armed action in Stanley. Once all was obviously hopeless and to prevent needless loss of life, he ordered the Marines to lay down their arms. He then dressed in his formal uniform, including plumed hat, and met the Argentine commander whereupon he instructed him

    “You have landed unlawfully on British territory and I order you to remove yourself and your troops forthwith”

    In later life he was chairman of the Falkland Islands Association for many years and President of the UK Falkland Islands Trust. He retired in 2004 and moved to Yorkshire, and passed away in Stockton on Tees, fittingly perhaps, on remembrance day.

    His self sacrifice and dedication to duty stands in stark contrast to the current self serving expense grasping jungle dwellers we seem afflicted with now.

    Bravo Zulu Sir Rex.

    More links
    BBC – Falklands governor Sir Rex Hunt dies
    Falkland Islands News Network – Falklands Mark the Passing of Sir Rex Hunt CMG
    Penguin News – Sir Rex Hunt Falklands Governor during the Argentine invasion dies

    I hope you put some cash in the poppy tin this weekend. It matters. Whilst I am aware that all current serving members of the armed forces are volunteers their families are not and require help just as much sometimes.

    Anyways, cracking article in the Indy that helps explain why I think the forces do not get the recognition, pay or resources they deserve. After all when was the last time a diversity officer felt the need to write a letter like this? Ignore the spelling and remember this was a 19 year old man sent to fight on your behalf.

    Cyrus Thatcher was killed on 2 June 2009. This is the letter he wrote to be delivered to his family if he died

    Hello its me, this is gonna be hard for you to read but I write this knowing every time you thinks shits got to much for you to handle (so don’t cry on it MUM!!) you can read this and hopefully it will help you all get through.

    For a start SHIT I got hit!! Now Iv got that out the way I can say the things Iv hopefully made clear, or if I havent this should clear it all up for me. My hole life you’v all been there for me through thick and thin bit like a wedding through good and bad. Without you I believe I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have. I died doing what I was born to do I was happy and felt great about myself although the army was sadly the ending of me it was also the making of me so please don’t feel any hate toward it. One thing I no I never made clear to you all was I make jokes about my life starting in the Army. That’s wrong VERY wrong my life began a LONG time before that (Obviously) but you get what I mean. All the times Iv tried to neglect the family get angry when you try teach me right from wrong wot I mean to say is I only realised that you were trying to help when I joined the army and without YOUR help I would have never had the BALLS, the GRIT and the damn right determination to crack on and do it. If I could have a wish in life it would to be able to say Iv gone and done things many would never try to do. And going to Afghan has fulfilled my dream ie my goal. Yes I am young wich as a parent must brake you heart but you must all somehow find the strength that I found to do something no matter how big the challenge. As Im writing this letter I can see you all crying and mornin my death but if I could have one wish in an “after life” it would be to stop your crying and continueing your dreams (as I did) because if I were watching only that would brake my heart. So dry your tears and put on a brave face for the rest of your friends and family who need you.

    I want each and everyone of you to forfill a dream and at the end of it look at what you have done (completed) and feel the accomplishment and achievement I did only then will you understand how I felt when I passed away.

    [To his brothers:] You are both amazing men and will continue to be throughout your lives you both deserve to be happy and fofill all of your dreams.

    Dad – my idol, my friend, my best friend, my teacher, my coach, everything I ever succeeded in my life I owe to you and maybe a little bit of me! You are a great man and the perfect role model and the past two years of being in the army I noticed that and me and you have been on the best level we have ever been. I thank you for nothing because I no all you have given to me is not there to be thanked for its there because you did it cause you love me and that is my most proudest thing I could ever say.

    Mum, where do I start with you!! For a start your perfect, your smell, your hugs, the way your life was dedicated to us boys and especially the way you cared each and every step us boys took. I love you, you were the reason I made it as far as I did you were the reason I was loved more than any child I no and that made me feel special.

    Your all such great individuals and I hope somehow this letter will help you get through this shit time!! Just remember do NOT mourn my death as hard as this will seem, celebrate a great life that has had its ups and downs. I love you all more than you would ever no and in your own individual ways helped me get through it all. I wish you all the best with your dreams.

    Remember chin up head down. With love Cyrus xxxx

    May I humbly suggest one.

    Not because he was a Royal Marine, (who I have immense respect for having slogged my way round their assault course once, sans kit and weapon!)

    Not because he did a shit job in a foreign land and called it a duty.

    Not because he gave his life and got less respect and recognition than some piss water perfume that some plastic faced attention whore was touting.

    But because he knew this may happen, accepted it as part of the job and still made time to think for his family and friends.

    So after leaving cash for his family and his favourite charity (which cares for injured marines), he took life insurance and specified it was to include a trip for his friends. Now 32 of his mates are off to Las Vegas courtesy of Marine David Hart to celebrate his memory. I hope they do him proud.

    Looking out for his comrades still. A true Marine.

    Bravo Zulu.

    A review! Mrs Spider recently gave me a surprise present of some Foad Wax. Not as you may think some obscure toad that has been mis-spelt but some moustache wax as the face was getting decidedly hairified…
    Not having been a user before I can report it is indeed good fun, however that is not what most impressed me.

    Several days later Mrs Spider received another tin of the same, not as you may think an error, but the accompanying letter explained that Moustache tamer and purveyor of the aforementioned facial fur facilitator, Mr Foad was not happy with the quality of the wax in his last batch and had sent out another tin of the same size. Completely unasked for, unexpected and superb customer service. (I must confess as to not even being aware of the inferior grade of the wax already received!)


    It’s not often I am genuinely impressed, so hat’s off to Mr Foad and his amazingly fun wax… I heartily recommend his website, it even has a tutorial for the newcomer to moustache taming!

    Bravo Zulu

    The Beeb (and others) are reporting on the Coopers Hill cheese-rolling contest, which took place despite being cancelled for the second year in a row. About 200 people turned up to race regardless of the lack of an “official” permission to do so.

    For that I applaud them, they took responsibility for their own lives and decided they were not going to be told what to do (or not do!). They weren’t hurting anyone other than themselves so what exactly was the issue that required “a large police presence”?

    It becomes clearer when the previous organiser is quoted as

    “Former organiser Richard Jeffries last week urged people not to attend any unofficial event. Mr Jeffries had said the lack of first aid cover would be a “concern” if an unofficial event were to take place. In the past, St John Ambulance and other volunteers have provided first aid at official events.”

    Whilst I am sure partly it is a sincere desire to look after people, there is also the presumption that people should not be allowed to decide for themselves. The arrogant assumption that if they don’t control it it shouldn’t be allowed. That deciding to run down a stupidly steep hill after a cheese should be a prohibited act unless you have the authorities permission.

    So for each and every runner that made the brave decision to ignore authority and run where they wanted in a gloriously stupid act of defiance I salute you.

    Bravo Zulu.

    A heroic tale of retired Gurkha Bishnu Shrestha who is being celebrated in India, who singlehandedly killed three bandits, wounded eight and drove off another 30. Not on the battlefield but on a train.

    Bishnu Shrestha was on a train where about forty bandits, pretending to be passengers, suddenly revealed themselves, and, armed with knives, swords and pistols, stopped the train in the jungle, and proceeded to rob the hundreds of passengers. When the bandits reached Shrestha, he was ready to give up his valuables, but then the 18 year old girl sitting next to him was grabbed by the robbers, who wanted to rape her. The girl appealed to him for help. So he pulled out the large, curved khukuri knife that all Gurkha soldiers (and many Gurkha civilians) carry, and went after the bandits. In the narrow aisle of the train, a trained fighter like Shrestha had the advantage. Although some of the bandits had pistols, they were either fake (a common ploy in India), inoperable, or handled by a man who didn’t want to get too close to an angry Gurkha. After about ten minutes of fighting in the train aisles, eleven bandits were dead or wounded, and the rest of them decided to drop their loot (200 cell phones, 40 laptops, lots of jewelry, and nearly $10,000 in cash) and flee. The train resumed its journey promptly, in case the bandits came back, and to get medical aid for the eight bandits who had been cut up by Shrestha (who was also wounded in one hand). Shrestha required two months of medical treatment to recover the full use of his injured hand.

    I could only hope I had the courage to do the right thing in anything like a similar situation.

    Although in the UK instead of free flights for a lifetime, you know he would now be facing multiple charges for murder and carrying an offensive weapon.

    When will anyone get it? Banning any kind of weapon simply does not work. It means that the criminals are the only ones armed, and we are left defenceless, completely reliant on a police force that may or may not turn up when they get round to it. The suspicious amongst you may even think that’s what they want…

    To Gurkha Bishnu Shrestha
    Bravo Zulu Sir.

    Another Source (See I do check this stuff!)