The weather forecast for this years YPR was a bit grim, rain in the week leading up to the rally weekend, then a bit more rain over the weekend, including thunderstorms on the Saturday .... Deep Joy !!!!
The rain over the last few months had made the ground saturated and the grass could not be cut. The grass reached around 3 foot tall. The brief spell of decent weather a fortnight before the rally meant that the grass could at last be cut and give the land a bit of a chance to dry out, but the water table was still high because of the months of rain. The little lake at the end of the site which would normally be about 18 inches deep was around 6 foot deep!
So, to avoid Health & Safety shutting down the rally before it even started, we had to make contingency plans to guarantee the rally would actually happen at all. The site layout was changed with the marquees and 'main drag' located in what used to be the marshals camping field, sections of the previous 'main drag' area were taped off so campers could avoid the worst of the marshland. Some of the traders were cancelled and a lot more equipment was hired in. The changing of the site was so the entrance of the site could be kept clear and used for camping. The cancelling of some of the traders was so that we had more space for campers and fewer vans and trucks on site meant it would be less churned up before the rally goers arrived. A cub cadet and trailer was hired (like is used at the Farmyard) so that equipment could be ferried on and off the site to avoid the bands vans rutting up the land. Also hired was a JCB forklift so we could get stuff like rubbish and toilets on and off the site again without churning the grass up and keeping the entrances safe for the bikes. Also hired were 30 Duradeck road plates to put down if it started to get muddy in important parts of the site (a few of these were used between the two fields where fencing funnelled traffic to a single track). In short, nothing was going to stop this rally !!!!
A large contingent of Wakefield MAG arrived on Wednesday evening to set up the site, with a good few more arriving on the Thursday 'marshals only' evening. A little bit of rain overnight on the Thursday but we arrived in the dry and got the tent up in the dry .... So far, so good.
Friday morning was warm and dry and we welcomed rally goers onto the site from around 10:00 onwards. With our morning marshalling gate shift over, we headed into Chapeltown and to a few of the many fine real ale pubs the town has to offer. Back on site later that afternoon and the camping area had nicely filled up.
The first band in the marquee on the Friday evening weren't that good, but the weather was dry and warm and most folks were outside, chilling and having a laugh with their mates, so the music was merely background noise. Headline band on the Friday were Big Day, who were as excellent as ever with their covers of modern rock tracks (Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Feeder, Foo Fighters etc).
These guys are regulars at Yorkshire MAG rallies and are popular, and rightly so. Those were weren't in the marquee were enjoying the bonfire, burning the wood that our set up crew had brought onto site the previous day.
It rained overnight but come Saturday morning, the sun was shining again, and it was probably a little too bright for many, who were nursing monumental hangovers.
Saturday afternoon was the Back Street Heroes Magazine sponsored bike show. Free to enter but with 6 trophies on offer, with a further best in show award and a cash prize of fifty quid. The section of the field we hosted the show on was quite heavily rutted, and still a little soft in places so we were glad we had enough side stand plates to go around. There were fewer entries in the show than last year, but what we lacked in quantity, we certainly didn't lack in quality, with some amazing bikes on display.
Difficult decisions had to be made but eventually they were, and the prizes were presented by MAG's El Presidente, Ian Mutch:
Not everyone was happy with the result, claiming a kit bike shouldn't win, however, a kit bike it may have been, but it was still built from the kit bits by the owner, and it was still something quite amazing. Moral of the story - Never judge a bike show, as you can never please all of the people all of the time. And according to Neil, Wakefield MAG's Padre, that is also taught in vicar school, if asked to judge any kind of competitive event (flower show etc), run a mile as you'll always upset someone, no matter how sincere your intentions !!!!
Whilst the bike show was being hosted, the Smacked Arse Comedy Show was held in the marquee. Not many of the Wakefield MAG contingent saw this, as it was Robert's Stag Do, and everyone went into Chapeltown to celebrate, with the lads in girls clothes, the girls in lads clothes, and Robert in a wedding dress.
Chapeltown didn't know what hit it !!!!! Ian, our political officer was a little bit too into his stockings it has to be said !!!!
One of the disadvantages of so much rain, followed by a spell of warm weather, was that the rally site was a mosquito farm, and the first aid tent was kept busy tending bites all weekend. Poor old Mo had an allergic reaction to one of the buzzing peril and spent Saturday afternoon in Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, however, pumped full of high dose antihistamines, he lived to fight another day.
Saturday evenings bands seemed to go down OK, although the headline band Foreigners Journey, although undoubtedly excellent musicians, were probably a little too easy listening for most folks.
The bonfire rounded off the evenings entertainment, with many revellers carrying on well into the early hours.
Most folks had long since left the site by the time the storm (forecast for the Saturday) finally hit the site on late afternoon on the Sunday. We had done it yet again, the sun god shone on the YPR (barring a few smatterings of rain (which didn't count), and the overnight bits, which also didn't count !!!!!!).
Another splendid YPR, and a huge thanks to Wakefield MAG's volunteer marshals for helping to make it happen.
Part of Hesley Wood Scout Camp has now been sold off for opencast development, so we will have to check the site plan to see whether we have enough room to host the rally at the same site next year. We'll keep you informed but one thing is for certain, the YPR will be on, and the Sun God will guarantee good weather (honest !!!!).