It’s hard for me to believe that this is the 38th GPO Rally, when the first rally I ever did was the second one, in 1982. For my first rally I bought a cheap sleeping bag and a tiny ridge tent from Woolworths. The rally is held by the Barrel Bikers (Buckingham) Motorcycle Club.
On that second GPO Rally I was camped right by the road. The M1 was shut and lorries were being diverted past the rally site, at The White Horse at Husborne Crawley. It sounded like the lorry was coming straight through the tent when it woke me in the small hours.
This year’s rally was near Hanslope. I just popped up for Saturday evening this time, but I camped last year.
Why is it called the GPO Rally? The rally used to be held around the 22nd of April. Back in the days of feeble bike headlights and non waterproof clothing, most riders were young and poor and had to ride all year round because they couldn't afford a car. By the time April arrived they were Generally, er, Cheesed Off and needed cheering up by spending the weekend at a rally.
Hence the GPO Rally. Nothing to do with the Post Office. Years ago, the Barrel Bikers couldn't find a site for the rally in time, so it was delayed until the following October, and it's been held in the autumn ever since.
Many of you will not know what a motorcycle rally is, so I shall try to explain. There’s a field, with a marquee. The marquee has a stage at one end, and a bar at the other. There’s somewhere to get food and tea, and some toilets, just about everyone camps; your physical needs are taken care of.
The organisers, usually a motorcycle club, lay on entertainment; some bands on Friday and Saturday night, and some rally games on Saturday afternoon. That’s about it. The rest is up to you.
There’s a fine atmosphere at a rally. It’s common to be involved in both intense and daft conversations with people you’ve never met before, and silly escapades which because they don’t adversely affect anyone else, are fine and to be expected.
Many of the people at the rally are in clubs that hold their own rallies, or go to several rallies a year; there’s a common purpose which unites the rallyists and this is the thing that allows rallies to work so well.
Understand this: at the end of the weekend when the organising club is clearing up, most of the people that paid to come to the rally have tidied up after themselves. A rally is a communal effort.
You may know somebody who goes to rallies. For the best part of Monday and Tuesday, they will still be happily in rally mode. A good rally is good for the soul.
Anyhow, on with the pictures!
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