My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

MarkN
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My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by MarkN » Mon May 13, 2013 9:06 am

What a fantastic weekend I've just had on the ABR Ireland Rally. A massive THANK YOU goes to Heff and Flintlock for all their hard work in putting this terrific weekend together.

I left my house, in Dorset, at about 10am on Thursday morning and had decided to take the twisty way up through Wales and avoid the super slabs as much as possible.

With the bike packed and the Sat-Nav programmed I set off towards Bath and then M4 which took me over a very windy (65mph gusts) Severn Bridge and into Newport. I followed the road up towards Abergavveny and the bus station in the town centre. Knowing this is a well known stop for bikers and as it was now 1pm, I thought I'd get a cuppa and a bite to eat.

Pulling in I notice another GSA and parked next to it. It doesn't take long for bikers to start chatting to each other. We spoke for some time and this other guy knew of ABR, as he bought the mag', but hadn't looked at the forum. By the time I reached Holyhead, I had received a PM from him saying that he's signed up - welcome to the forum Fat Matt. (He's not really that fat!).

Setting off again, I made my way over the Brecon Beacons and towards Rhayader, and then into Snowdonia via Beddgellet before heading towards Holyhead. Reaching Holyhead at 5,30pm, I thought I'd go and fill up with petrol and get a sandwich for supper and get ready for the next day and then checked into the local Travelodge for the night. It has rained nearly all day and I'm soaked, the girl at reception looked at me with a mixture of, "aw poor you, you looked soaked" and "if you think you're coming in here looking like that....". Anyway, she let me in, I unpacked, had a hot shower and settled down with my BLT and watched the news, while my kit gently steamed away in front of the wall heater.

I had a nice leisurely morning before my boat sailed at 10.30. I had read that day that Hilux and LadyVstrom had had an awful crossing on Thursday, with Hilux feeding the fish all the way across - no wander with the wind. With this knowledge I didn't eat before getting on the boat, just having some pineapple juice to keep the stomach settled. The crossing was very flat though and no one looked like they were feeling too bad.

The Stena Explorer (quite apt I thought), docked at 12.45 in Dun Laoghaire and I made my way around Dublin and onto the M1. The plan was to meet Robert, "riding a Triple Black GS with lots of extra black", at Lusk services at 2pm. I wasn't there long before Robert turned up on a very nice looking GS. With a warm smile and a firm handshake he gave me an even warmer "Welcome to Ireland". What a great way to really start the weekend? After the normal chatter, we set off for Dundalk and the coast road to Newcastle.

Stopping occasionally for a stretch and to take in the view.

One thing that struck me over the weekend was how proud of Ireland the Irish are, everyone I met and each time we stopped anywhere, they wanted to show off their beautiful Island and everytime they did, I couldn't argue, it's stunning.

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So, we carry on along the coast road and start to head inland. We've been lucky so far, there has been no rain at all for our ride up the East coast but we had been chased by dark clouds all afternoon. Eventually, we reach the campsite at Meelmore Lodge and find Bonniebird, Homer and Heff sharing a drink and a natter. We park up and Heff gives each of us a warm welcome to the rally. Being prepared, he hands me an information sheet about the site and the events of the weekend and then guides us around the site and the facilities onsite.

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I put my tent up, change and then watch as lots of others turned up over the next few hours. Gubba (Clifford), Ian (Vindaloo) Robert and myself got a taxi and head for Newcastle and O'Hare's bar on the seafront. The food and drink goes down too easily and we finish the evening in the bar watching the rugby.

After the rugby has finished I get chatting to Ian about Ireland and I get a very informative 5 minute potted history of the last 400 years. Most of which, I didn't know.

We head back to the campsite only to find that part of the campsite is filled by ourselves, part by a local church group and part by a group of teenage girls doing their D of E award. Guess where the noise came from? If you said the church group, you would win!!

The rain and wind that fell that night drowned out all the snoring, and made for a very wet field the next day. Most of us went for a hearty "Ulster Fry" in the cafe onsite on Saturday morning. The size of it was huge with beans flowing over the edge and a fried egg balancing at the very top of a mound of bacon, sausages, eggy bread, fried soda bread and tomatoes. The girls were going to walk it off as they disappeared into the mist of the mountains and the next 15kms, we were going to work it off by sitting on our bikes until lunch time!

Flinlock's (Keith) ride was going to be an all day affair and we weren't going to be disappointed. About 15-20 of us set off at 9.30am (The last bit of the ride to be on schedule!!).

The ride took us along country roads, single tracks, mountain roads, through forests, down glens, through cities, along coast roads and we even ventured onto parts of race tracks. As the ride went through so many great places in it's 300 mile, 12 hour route my brain exploded with all the sights and I'm ashamed to say that I have forgotten the name of this start line and which race it forms part of. I can remember that the circuit is 7miles long and it's not the NW200 as we went there during the afternoon.

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We moved on and then travelled through one of the eight(?) glens then run to the sea.

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As it was now nearly 1pm, we pulled into the car park at Joey's Bar in Ballymoney for what I thought was lunch time but we were told that this was just our coffee stop and we were now behind schedule.

As luck would have it, we were served by Joey's daughter.

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After our quick pit stop, we were back on the road and headed to the north coast. The weather so far was a mixed bag of showers and sunny spells but as soon as we got to the coast, the sun came out in all its glory and we could even see Scotland over the water.

Flintlock had arranged for us to park up on the promenade with the restaurant only a short walk away. Lunch was taken on the balcony, over looking the ocean. It would have been wrong not to have the fisherman's pie!

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After lunch we South towards Belfast and after a brief stop on the outskirts of Belfast and over looking the ship yard of Harland and Wolff, Ian said that he would give me a sightseeing trip around Belfast. So, we started at the Town Hall, saw the leaning tower of Prince Albert and next news were riding up Shankhill Road viewing some of the murals painted on the walls. Ian wanted to give us a balanced view of life in Belfast and as we had seen the Unionist area, he thought it only right that we should view the Republican area of Falls Road! My history lesson of the previous night suddenly brought to life!

To me, living in a tiny, sleepy Dorset village, this was a real eye opener.

After the "Vindaloo's Guided Tours of Belfast" excursion we met up with the rest of the team at a local McDonald's on the edge of town and then made our way back to Meelmore Lodge.

It was just gone 9pm when we arrived and I was shattered. I had just about enough energy for a shower and a hot drink before climbing into my pit!

The next morning we woke to very grey skies and lots of rain. It's always fun packing your kit away in the rain. I finished off an joined the others in the cafe for breakfast before heading off to the port. I waved those away that were going on Heff's Sunday ride out and said goodbye to those that were left and made my way to Dun Laoghaire for my ferry home.

I arrived back in Holyhead at 3.45pm and set the Sat-Nav to take me along the A5, A49 etc to Hereford and then the A40 to Newport, over the Severn bridge, through Bristol, Castle Cary, Shepton Mallet and home.

I walked through my front door 9.45pm.

Over the weekend I clocked up over 1000 miles and once again I've met some great people and seen a part of the UK that I'd never had seen if it hadn't been for ABR.

Thank you once again to the folk that made a great weekend happen and everyone that turned up.

See you again!

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Heff
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by Heff » Mon May 13, 2013 9:21 am

MarkN, firstly it was a pleasure meeting you and a big thanks for taking the time and making the effort to join us.

Thank you for your very positive comments about your rally experience in Ireland.

I'm sure our paths will cross again at another rally in the future. Plans already forming for ABR Irleland 2014

Until next time

Heff
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I'm probably out on the Bat Bike



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markyt
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by markyt » Mon May 13, 2013 9:35 am

Good ride report mate thanks for posting lovely views.

Flintlock
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by Flintlock » Mon May 13, 2013 10:59 am

Thanks for that excellent report Mark, it has saved me a bit of work, glad you enjoyed yourself, only wish we could have had more stops down the Causeway Coast, but time and weather was not on my side.

And apoligies for the second food stop being closed, we were not that far over the time i said we would be there and they promised me they stayed open to 8pm, will be having words with them later

Thanks to Vindaloo for coming up with the mini tour of Belfast, a nice wee bonus for those that took part, and also thanks again for Vindaloo for giving some the option of a more "rapid" return to Meelore on the last leg

MarkN
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by MarkN » Mon May 13, 2013 11:13 am

Flintlock wrote:
And apoligies for the second food stop being closed, we were not that far over the time i said we would be there and they promised me they stayed open to 8pm, will be having words with them later

Thanks to Vindaloo for coming up with the mini tour of Belfast, a nice wee bonus for those that took part, and also thanks again for Vindaloo for giving some the option of a more "rapid" return to Meelore on the last leg
The second food stop, was this where we stopped in Belfast by the water? I wasn't even aware that was what it was, the day ran so smoothly.

Thanks again for a great ride.

Flintlock
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by Flintlock » Mon May 13, 2013 2:03 pm

Yep, there was a wee cafe there that serves food coffee etc, anyway it was their loss. Thankfully McD's was the plan B

James691
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by James691 » Mon May 13, 2013 2:10 pm

A wonderful write up Mark and I loved the pictures - it looks like everyone had a ball and that is what it is all about at the end of the day. A massive well done to all involved in this rally and I'm sure it will prove even more popular next year!

Mark - thanks for taking the time out to put this up and share the event with the rest of us that for one reason or another could not make it. It is important not to underestimate that positive attitudes and posts like this will encourage other riders to come and join in. So, if not for this post then perhaps another rider may read someone moaning and bitching and thinking is it worth it going to these events? You read something like this and it shows the true colours of the forum and the people on it. Just out to have a good time and share that with other riders.

Heff - mahoosive thanks to you and the lads for putting this on and showing people another part of the world to go and play in. Giving up your time and looking up the roads that you have traveled over the years to pick out the best routes and show your corner off to its best advantage. It humbles me to see people doing this like this over and over again and asking nothing in return!

The Ireland event I am sure will be a very much welcome return in 2014, you are the stars of the event and I am sure all will agree.

Thank you

James
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PaulG
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by PaulG » Mon May 13, 2013 3:42 pm

Thanks for posting an excellent ride report and photos Mark.

Certainly worth considering for 2014 as I've never been to Ireland - lots of miles but lots of fun and good memories.

Appreciate your time and trouble for this.

Paul :)

Vindaloo
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by Vindaloo » Mon May 13, 2013 6:03 pm

Great write up Mark - really enjoyed reading through that and the pics are excellent.

Glad I could play a small part in you getting the most out of the trip - you're welcome back here any time ... And maybe on your next visit we'll ween you off those shandies onto something a bit more substantial ;)

dmac
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Re: My Take On The ABR Ireland Rally

Post by dmac » Mon May 13, 2013 6:07 pm

That 18 year old plum poitin from the Aran Islands was the business!
Currently an F650GS, DR350 and RV125 in the family stable.

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