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04th May 2012 - 07th May 2012 Cider Rally 2012

Fun and games galore in Weston Super Mare for the sold-out Cider Rally.

After the wettest April ever, the rain abated as hundreds of H.O.G. riders set out from all corners of the UK and headed to the West Country for a Bank Holiday weekend free of rain and blessed with sunshine. Bridgwater Chapter's Cider Rally traditionally kicks off the UK H.O.G. Rally season and is usually sold out very early on – not least because places are strictly limited to 1,000. As Chapter Director, Moggy, says, they could sell out the Cider Rally twice over quite easily, so early booking for 2013 is essential.

The rally site is a holiday camp in the quiet surrounds of Sand Bay, North of Weston Super Mare. Quiet, that is, until the Harley-Davidison motorcycles arrive. Most members stay in chalets onsite, but some find accommodation in the B&Bs nearby and a few even elected to camp. Apart from ride-outs, the only reason to leave the site was to get fish and chips, otherwise everything was catered for onsite with a large restaurant and a choice of bars: one noisy, the other quietly chilled out.

The compere for the weekend was multitasking Chapter member photographer and DJ Rob Paston who ensured that the music and partying continued without  pause. He kept his decks turning, seamlessly interspersing the music with witty banter whilst coordinating the bands, sound and lighting crews. He kept this up until the very early hours for three nights on the trot. He deserves a special award as the engine driving the party on. Each evening had a theme: Friday was Air Guitar Night, when everyone released their inner Status Quo with hundreds of inflatable guitars and plenty of head banging. The live act was the Rosie Walters Band who rocked the joint with Rosie's formidable bluesy voice bashing out rock and blues classics like a Welsh version of Janis Joplin.

Saturday morning saw around 700 bikes set off along The Grand Parade to Weston Super Mare with David Lucas as 'Uncle Sam' in the lead dressed head to toe in stars and stripes. Weston's early holidaymakers were given an unexpected treat as the roaring thunder rolled into town and lined up on the seafront. There was plenty of time for everyone to wander the resort and experience the new pier, play the slot machines or just seek out the best fish and chips before returning in time for the Ride-In Bike Show and the Chapter Games in the afternoon.

The Chapter games at any H.O.G. rally provide a good opportunity for silly competitions, but Bridgwater were determined to be sillier than the rest. As an acknowledgement to this year's London Olympic Games, Bridgwater H.O.G. staged the 'Vegetable Olympics'. This involved leek javelin, cabbage shot put and frozen pizza discus. Individual techniques varied greatly and some of the facial expressions indicated that they were taking it very seriously in some cases. The three-legged race, where three people were tied together at the ankles, usually with a lady flanked by two burly bikers who manhandled her around the course. Some of the resulting pictures look suspiciously like female abduction was being perpetrated! The games’ grand finale had its roots in Celebrity Jungle which involved a Bridgwater Tucker Trial which involved eating nasty concoctions against the clock with extreme Mickey-taking from the spectators. The fun was rounded off with a team relay of 'What The Duck?' where plastic ducks had to be retrieved from bowls of cream, Rice Krispies and other goo using teeth and no hands – messy! Ultimately Lakeside H.O.G. won the Chapter Challenge Trophy. 

Furthest Ridden award went to a couple from the Dunedin Chapter, which was well represented at this rally – hard butts the lot of them. 

An international flavour was provided by the party-loving guys and girls of the Belgian Liege Chapter, the members of which were camping on site.

Saturday night featured a Disney fancy dress theme which meant lots of sexy Snow Whites, Cruella DeVille's and countless spotty dog outfits purporting to be Dalmations. It was evident that many chapters had put a lot of planning and effort into this evening judging by the high standards of the outfits. A fine party was had with two great bands performing: Devious and the Affray. There were a hundred or so diehards left in DJ Rob's 3AM Club to take part in the Chair Grand National which was a good excuse to fall on the floor.

On Sunday morning the sun shone and it warmed up nicely in time for the Ride-outs, of which there were three to choose from heading to places such as Stonehenge and Bristol Waterfront. Those who remained on site relaxed outside their chalets in the warm sunshine and a few ladies were spotted sunbathing in their scanties – which was good preparation for the afternoon event: the Ladies Of Harley Moulin Rouge/Burlesque Rideout. The L.O.H. turned out in good numbers; their riding outfits featuring ribbons and lace tutus over their leathers. However the guys were not to be disappointed as the ladies were saving their best for last. When it came to the final evening's revelries the girls turned out in an Ann Summers frenzy of whalebone basques stockings, suspenders and plenty of kinky boots, led from the front by Bridgwater's Moggy doing the Can Can. Wolverhampton's Los Amigos Chapter were not to be outdone by the ladies however, and turned out as extras from a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western in their sombreros, ponchos and Mexican moustaches. The Los Amigos Muchachos were well-complemented by the band on the night, Rang A Tang,  an eclectic band that featured brass instruments such as cornets and trumpets that provide the backing music for many a Sergio Leone film.

Then, all of a sudden, it was all over. The tiredness and the hangovers were only temporary but the lasting legacy of this Cider Rally is that the Children's Hospice at Wraxall, near to Bristol, will benefit from funds raised at the event.

Gill Mogg acknowledged the hard work put in by Bridgwater committee members and the volunteers who ensure the success of the Cider Rally each year. She also thanked the Sand Bay management for their co-operation and for catering so well to the rally goers. Gill also thanked Phil Jessop and Andy Hayman of Riders, their Chapter dealership, for their help and support throughout the year.

Book early for 2013! 

Garry Stuart

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