Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dragon Rally 2015 pt 2

Well, what a fantastic weekend. Amazing crisp clear winter weather, brilliant riding and scenery and a great rally. Set off Friday morning from home and rode the two hours North to Bristol to meet up with Dan and his Bullet. From there across the Severn Bridge over to Chepstow, the start of the scenic riding and into Wales.

Getting togged up outside Dan's place. Many, many layers.
From Chepstow the B4235 then B4598 up to Abergavenny. I don't often make the effort to ride up into Wales which is a pity as the scenery is spectacular and the feeling of being in a different country is there, the differences are subtle but it certainly ain't quite the same as home and that's a good thing on a bike trip. As we continue the scenery just gets better and better. The route takes us on the A40 a short while with the Black Mountains to our right and the Brecon Beacons on our left. The skies are clear and the peaks snow capped. Perfect. Next a little jaunt along the A479 before hitting the A470, an arterial route North South through Wales. Traffic is light and our speed mellow (Dan is on his Bullet after all!) I had worried that the R100RS would be fussy at the slower speeds but it takes it in its stride and the pace is nice and relaxing. We reach Llandrindod Wells just after nightfall for our overnight stop.

Hamton Hotel Llandridnod Wells.
The Hampton Hotel hit the spot. Cheap and clean rooms, pub and food on site and an excellent ale lounge just down the road. Wales v England rugby was on so we kept a low presence! By coincidence there is a beautiful late twenties garage opposite the Hampton - Pritchard and Sons, now disused but still in good preservation. What a brilliant site it would make for a vintage vehicle business. More about the garage on the Old Classic Car site.

Pritchard and Sons garage Llandridnod Wells.

The crumbling Lion carries a date of 1929 on the garage.

Back on to the A470 and another beautiful clear day. At Llanidloes there is a neat little road you can take, the B4518 which cuts some mileage off though perhaps not time and takes you into the Brecons and over a dam. When you hit the A470 again you can actually go straight across it and on another very scenic and very minor road which takes you to the A458 upon which you turn left and carry on for a couple of miles to get back on the A470. Stunning scenery, well worth doing.

Beautiful scenery on the A470.
BMW R100RS riding exactly as fast as...

A speeding Bullet.
Eventually up in to Snowdonia and through dramatic scenery at Blaenau Ffestiniog and to Betws-y-Coed. There are a lot of bikes at Betws but we have to carry on 20 odd miles North to the checkpoint at the Conwy Motorcycle Club's clubhouse at the base of Conwy Castle. We meet there with Phil and Lisa. Phil's riding his Honda CB400 combo with Lisa pillion. Sure enough once checked in we head back to Betws. There has been a last minute change of camp site, as it turns out probably for the best as it is a gorgeous scenic spot nearby to Fairy Glen.

Phil, Lisa and the well loaded, well travelled CB400.
Up go the tents, on goes the brew and a wander around chatting to folks. This is a big change from last time I did the Dragon when the weather was damp and we arrived in the dark. This is the way to do it, arrive early afternoon and plenty of time to set up and soak in the atmosphere.

Evening time a short while warming up in the cafe across the road which was strangely quiet considering it was the only warm place for several miles around. There was the bar at the marquee too, though the traditional large bonfire was missing.

Someone told us that overnight the temperature dropped to minus nine centigrade. That made us feel a bit hardier and like proper Dragon Rallyists given that we had enjoyed so much winter sun and dry weather.

Frosty tent.

Frosty Bullet.

So cold that if you put anything down for a minute it froze.

Not many bike rallies can boast scenery
like this at the campsite.

Packing up for the journey home.

Group photo ready to go home.

A long trip on old bikes wouldn't be right without the spanners
coming out at least once. Dan's Bullet obliged just ten miles
from Bristol on the only stretch of motorway we did the whole
ride. Turned out to be just a loose connection on the HT lead.

No comments:

Post a Comment