Why we do it...

Why do normally sensible people get together and ride all day and night to win a plaque they paid for?

The reason is that it is the best excuse ever, for a brilliant ride out. The 3 of us, Simon Gardner (winner 2008) Martin Dunham (winner 2002 and 2009) and me, David Shelley (part of the winning team 2009). We have been riding together on the National Rally since 2003.

However, Martin has been doing the National since 1997. We all got together through work, but the common interest in motorcycling was the strongest link. Simon and I joined Martin for the first time in 2003 and have been with him ever since, usually following him, because he bought a sat nav first which was nicknamed "Doris". The sat nav was always a back up, because we always spend time pouring over maps.

The planning is one major part of the rally and is one I personally enjoy. It is an opportunity to get the rally paperwork and maps and work out a route we all feel happy with. We do it over coffee and biscuits, but we could do it a pub if we wanted. We then each have the route printed out for the tank bags, although they are not much use in the dark!

Some of the controls we visit every year and some we visit for the first time. I am always impressed by the people at the rally control, because we only ride in, sort out the administration and then ride off again, they are there all the time. Each control has its own character, with varied facilities, but each one has a warm and friendly reception.

We go for the platinum prize, but I know of lots of riders who go for other levels and still get a lot of satisfaction from their involvement. And this is then another aspect of why we go to the National Rally, it is our annual opportunity to catch up with like minded bikers and find out where their route takes them.

When I look back at what has happened at previous rallies, we have rarely got lost, but we have suffered from punctures which throw the timetable out and changing the rest breaks because we are sometimes too keen to keep pressing on. We now have a much better system to stop us arriving at the finish control point before it is even open! We have finished at 0400hrs and slept on the grass waiting for it to open. I would recommend the rally to anyone looking to have a purpose to a brilliant ride out, it tests your navigation skills, it is not a race and you can choose at what level you want to try.

David Shelley

It is a great experience and it represents of all that's good about biking. - Roger, France

"This year's was my 31st Rally" - Laurie

My first National Road Rally and I am already looking forward to the next - Dermot

ACU - Bikesport GB