Dear ……

To all my friends that did not come, sadly, you were not missed.

I awoke at 5 AM to the sound of the alarm beeping and my bladder straining….

Rushed to the kitchen to fire-up the kettle then onto the bathroom to deal with the main problem.

Birds could just be heard farting and coughing outside, so I knew it must be early with the dawn chorus upon us…

Had done all my packing and preparations the evening before and gone to bed ‘ nice and early’ but could not sleep at first…excited…

After washing and donning the gear, I quietly opened garage door ……..rolled the bike down the drive…… and on down the road to the bottom where I started the motor to annoy someone else’s neighbours. Rode swiftly in the cold morning air onto the A34 heading North for Newbury. Still darkish, I was cautious and constrained by visibility or rather lack of it…. The beast croaked and hated being held back, in frustrated mood it kicked its heels in some gravel left by a car driver on a bend and woke me up…properly…

Stopped just outside of Newbury and looked at Lil-Lou’s instructions and map…. the instructions were clear, meet at Foxes Diner …9 AM… the map was less clear as her computer had not only shifted it mostly off the page but moved the arrow pointing to Foxes Diner onto the main text, ‘B.ll.x’ Still being an advanced rider I just blundered on ‘forward planning’ to ask a local, …the local came in the guise of the petrol station cashier who knew exactly where it was, directing me without the aid of a GPS. So there I was sitting outside, on my own, freezing my ..^&*% off and watching the sun come up…. No sign of anyone, least of all a proprietor of the diner, where I had planned (in my dreams) to have a fine breakfast and steaming hot coffee. An hour later a cheerful lady ask if I wanted to come in and get something!

I thanked her and ask if she had anything for frost bite as well as hunger…. She looked sideways at me and asked if I was a biker and was that my bike outside…. Removing my gloves, leather jacket and buff I just asked for a small breakfast and a large coffee… no one else there… she was obviously a bright lass…

Sit down dearey she said and I’ll bring it to you… won’t be a minute… It arrived in ten… a mountain of cholesterol and coffee… result at last…

In dribs and drabs the TVAM group started to arrive… mostly the drabs first, Louise and Ian with a few cohorts from their chapter. Then the dribs… well what a dodgy shower they looked… God what had I let myself in for. A weekend in Wales (a dangerous place at the best of times ) with this lot… They rode everything from brand new state of the art snorting monsters to egg whisks (sorry Phil). One lady even had her bike dressed up in sort of Germanic lederhosen with laces… into bondage I thought, keep away from her, don’t fancy being smeared with sump oil and subjected to un-natural practises while under restraint in some moment of weakness…

Lil-Lou introduced me to some of the troop, most spoke quite good English and seemed friendly on first impression… They were from around Wycombe and Oxford so probably had deprived childhoods and at least one parent ‘at her majesty’s pleasure‘. I was settling in. They seemed to accept me and general the banter was of fun and frolics ( whatever that meant in their parlance )…

Lil-Lou bought us to attention and outlined the basic rules for the weekend….” I have arranged all this, having been lumbered by Daff and now its up to you lot to get there and have a good time” … I reflected on my own powers of delegation and knew I was lacking, here was a master of the art..

Ian was left standing at the front, when everyone took a step back. Bet I know who wears the trousers in his house.

He must be the run leader I thought… What a run leader. Someone should marry him before he is snapped up.

There were three runs to Aberawristwith, one lead by Lil Lou, one led by Big Nigel and one led by Ian the brave…

I had been allocated to Ian, I think he got the unpopular ones with personal problems.

He tried his best to lose us, but we were resolute in our aim to ‘get there as well’

Several members of our group, made a break for freedom, but the bloody marker system worked faultlessly and that foiled their plans.

Our journey to Aberbananana was long, tiring and eventful but we all enjoyed it in our own way. It was part of the TVAM training we had learned to love. You have to suffer for your sport. No point in enjoying it.

The party were booked into a large friendly hotel on the sea front, run by close friends of the Cray brothers and they gave us bargain rates. The theme rooms were fun! Nigel and Andrea got the waterbed but said little about their experience. Andrea was grinning at breakfast though. Someone else got the vibrating bed and several said there’s shook in the night, strange forces at work no doubt.

Mary had a special sloping bed?? You can only stay in it if you are completely pissed… she fell out of it on Friday night but slept soundly in it on Saturday.

The first night was as you would expect. A few new bikers tentatively getting to know each other over a shandy and a bite.. Bollox was it …!!! everyone got completely hammered and told rude and outrageous stories into the wee small hours..when quietness fell over Aberanotheronequick… so did the rain… that stuff that bikers don’t really like… A fine lubricant of rubber on tarmac.

Most of us came-to about dawn and knew we needed a further 4 hours kip… but our TVAM training had conditioned us to shun comfort and be real men… unfortunately there were no real women in my room, so that was not an option.

It was a great start to the weekend, horrible hangover, Lil Lou was asked time and again for aspirin or any drugs that might help…

We set off under the leadership of Ian yet again. This time he was winging it, we could tell, for several of the roads said not suitable for farm vehicles (written in Welsh of course) and he set off down them apace, only to be surprised by the level of technical riding required. My Ohlins and sticky track rubber made easy work of 8 inch deep ruts and cowshit but strangely struggled with the river bed we followed down to the coast. These roads really let you use the power of a modern sports bike to the full!

I was lucky enough to be given the distraction of ‘an associate’ to play with… and ‘a TOB’ to intimidate. That really helped my hangover and made my day. The associate was a very good rider and gave faultless demonstration of ‘the riding standard’ over some testing terrain. I only nodded off once or twice, so it must have been fun… we used both first and second gears at times and observed the posted limits and signs (use 4 wheel drive now).

Phil (X11) Nichols an ex-Japanese trainee Kamikaze pilot was fun to ride with. He had a placid style that endeared him to the older and timid riders and he demonstrated restraint on several occasions. I’ll not have another the wife’s waiting upstairs for me…

A good crowd to ride with, these hardy TVAM types. There were the nervous ones, like Marcia, she bought her own fireman, Martin. He rode a two wheeled fire engine with chrome bits and a bell.

John and Lin rode in perfect harmony, John at one end of the column of riders and Lin at the other with a romantic meeting every hour for a fag break.

Lin a timid wee Scots lass took a while to relax and hardly said a word to anyone..

Bod… well he enjoyed sedate riding and taking in the view, he will backmark one day. Back never been there he said ‘where’s that ‘

Geoff.. was trying to find some knee sliders that would work whilst riding in the upright position?

Kim… rode faultlessly in a vain attempt to make up for her husband’s display of low flying through the Welsh valleys.

Tom… new to group riding with TVAM was amazed that most of the time his Bandit seemed never to fall below 7000 rpm.

Lin ‘H’… took to the Welsh countryside ‘big time’ an indicator (RHS) of the draw of the open fields.

And not to forget Pete and Lynne Allen… Lynn a goddess on two wheels showed how easy it can be to look good and outride the boys and Pete.

Now Pete had a great holiday, he was particularly taken with the plumbing in one petrol station. So much so, he, like a knight in shiny armour to a damsel in distress dismantled their toilet cistern and returned to the group looking flushed and happy…’its working again’ he cried to the woman with crossed legs and beads of perspiration on her brow.

Richard… had a kind of ‘Postman Pat’ bike and a storm trouper outfit. He was a straight road specialist going for out and out power, unfortunately there weren’t any of those about. He listened to music all the time he was riding and not a lot else.

Mike and Sheena were inseparable on their Fireblade… the new velcro patch on Sheena’s bottom keeping her in perfect harmony with the ‘blades antics, unfortunately she became attached to Pete the Tigers knee slider patch in the bar on Saturday and spent all evening following him around backwards.

Tiger Pete was so disgusted by the car drivers in one town he threw the Tiger down in disgust and took to two feet in a vain attempt to stop the traffic.

All in all a varied bunch of machinery.. Daff had not taken the optional osteopath with his new BM and complained bitterly about pile irritation and numb bum syndrome all a mystery to sports bike riders who have to do special exercises to get strong wrists… The 8th W maybe ????

Well I’m bored with this now… you must be too….

Ta Lil-Lou and Ian for a great distraction from life’s ups and downs…

If I am not invited next time I will sue TAFFY


Don’t forget rule 19 still applies