Annual Review

We tried very hard to coast through 2019 after a difficult start that saw me corner the market in antibiotics yet still land in hospital.

Life carried on for our band of loyal followers and contributors so I was revived and sent back to work on Here is a rundown of what happened.


Constant enthusiasm from a small band of contributors inspires me to present their work to the World Wide Web. Here are a few who merit special mention.

Hans Veenendaal

I don't know how he does it and I'm keeping my nose out of his department because it looks like a lot of hard work. But Hans still comes up with his Rally Listing every week, no matter what else he is doing. His list continues to be the top attraction to both at home and abroad. Hans' data is also available for PC, tablet and downloadable as a PDF file. We are forever seeking new ways of presenting his valued research in ways that help you to make the very best use.

Phil Drackley

Phil the Spill seems to have a bottomless box of photos and videos taken at rallies last century. His contributions span the era of Box Brownies, Instamatics, SLRs, Super 8 and VHS. We are looking forward to eventually reaching the digital age as Phils contributions in 2019 were over one report per week.

Jean-Francois Helias

Francois (aka Fanfan) is driven by the same need that motivates this website: To document the early years of motorcycle rallies before the memories are lost. Francois' speciality in 2019 has been to record the early years of major continental and British rallies of the 1960s. He is still running his own fishing business in Thailand but finds the time to produce superb illustrated reports that stretch our technical ability to do them justice.

Peter Wright & Simon Over

Peter Wright (aka Wishbone) puts timely photos and videos of past members motorcycling and cycling onto our Facebook page. Peter has a keen eye for a candid snap.

Simon Over, who originally joined our cycling party, soon joined in the motorcycling as well. He records our route each week and, when need arises as it does, completes our weekly report to prove that the Embers don't miss a ride to a pub.

Other Contributors

We are grateful to everyone who sends in a note, scans a photo, mentions a bike or buddy. Some of us are getting on in years but many are still riding so may feel pushed for an opportunity to put their memories into words.

But like they say. "If you want something done, ask a busy man, because a lazy man never has the time."

Contributions are always acknowledged in our Bibliography.


Here is what they wrote...

A total of 96 new pages and 154 additions to existing pages (including the News and Blog). I bet all that material keeps you busy when you're not out riding.

We gained about 2000 more photographs of various qualities, subjects and dates. Some of the best are faded, dog-eared and covered in oily thumb-prints that tell their own story. We now have 25,282 photos in 1166 albums but by the time you read this the total will have risen again.

Because we stuff the Star Rating box under your nose we had 579 ratings of 323 pages. In case you didn't figure it out; once you star rate a page the nag should cease.


Twenty pages of cryptic pencil notes in my journal cover the technical trials and challenges of 2019. Here are the highlights (and pratfalls).

Big Changes

In September we made two consecutive major changes to the code behind Each of them could have broken the website. Together they really buggered it.

First change was to introduce semantic HTML. Put simply a header is tagged <HEADER>, a footer is tagged <FOOTER> and navigation text is tagged <NAV>. Simple really. You get what it says on the tin tag. We also use a <TIME> tag now to code dates that may need recognizing by non-humans. It's indirectly for your benefit (honest) but really useful for search engines and other machines.

Close on it's tail came a better (ie simple, modern, elegant) way to position the page content.

Problem was that many viewers had cached support files that were left out of sync with the new pages resulting in a dogs dinner until the latest files were all back together. I know this because I undid nearly 2000 page changes when it didn't work in my Chrome browser. Then put them all back again once I realised it was the bleddy cache!

Beyond Our Control

I still don't know if it was a Windows 10 or browser update that screwed up my admin pages but they stopped working in July. Admin pages are widgets that write scripts to eliminate errors and inconsistencies that I would otherwise fall prey to. Suddenly none of my admin pages worked because of what is referred to as cross-origin rejection. I had three choices.

  1. Run admin pages on a Windows XP computer.
  2. Change the way data is imported to a cut-and-paste method.
  3. Operate the files from a server.

I grasped the nettle to settle for option three but not before cursing the zealots who won't let me run whatever I like on my own computer!

More Geek-Speak

Early on, in a drug-induced delirium, I tackled ISO 8601 date formats and vocabularies to power rich, extensible experiences, added via client-side scripts. Do you want me to elucidate? Didn't think so! Moving on ...

Rally Listing

I mentioned above my constant search for ways to improve our presentation of Hans Veenendaal's Rally Listing. Hans' PDF files are updated every week and additions are suitably highlighted. So we did the same on our website page.

We also created a page to search for the closest rallies to a place and date of your choosing. In the process of doing this I went up one blind alley that still annoys me. Less said the better.

Not Broke So I Fixed It

Lots of other stuff that I should have kept my fingers out of. Luckily there are folk who tip me the nod when stuff is wonky. The National Rally Matrix and Rider Photos get plenty of feedback with corrections and suggested improvements. Good thing really because the Matrix is done in a helluva rush and I can never remember from one year to the next how I did it.

I made a stab at improving the way I convert Simon Over's GPX files to make them suitable for showing our routes on the website. The admin page I use (from a server thank you) reduces 1000 latitude and longitude pairs to 100 co-ordinates and trims the number of decimal places from 15 to four. Fifteen decimal places? That would locate you to one ten millionth of a millimetre for heavens sake. The way we ride, 10 metres is close enough.

There are several other technical problems with that I have been unable to solve. Strategy is to hide under my blanket and hope they go away.

Fun and Frolics

I wouldn't be subjecting myself to this if it wasn't fun (when I stop).

You may have caught sight of our Rupert pages, updated and improved during the year. I really know how to have a good time.

The Foz Spot limped along, hand to mouth, foot in mouth and almost on its last legs but made it as far as our Boxing Day Foz Annual. About the only upside of a failing memory is that we can laugh at the same jokes over and over. Whether the Foz Spot makes it through next year remains in the lap of the gods ie you.


On the whole 2019 was a delicious amalgam of great strides interspersed between smooth and comfortable achievements. Website statistics in the early months were pretty dismal but perked up towards the end of the year, largely thanks to your continued interest and loyalty.

Here is a selection of great strides, the ones we didn't trip over.

National Road Rally

For Kegworth control this was the easiest year to organise due to a well tried and trusted team of marshals who were quick to volunteer their invaluable time for our 4 five-hour watches. Thanks again to Peter Wright, Rob Winnett, Dave Parry, Dave Smith, Phil Freestone and Richard Clark. The weather could have been better and it could have been worse! We live in fear of a strong wind but I kept off the beans for breakfast.

There is a review from Kegworth's perspective while Mick Ayriss ran the adjacent control at Syston (pronounced SIGH-STUN) with Peter Juby and other past members and family.

MotoGP Section

Roland Potter continued to provide detailed practice and race reports for the 2019 race season until, by mid year, his own took off at a ripping pace that left all competition in the dust. At that point we redirected all fans to Roland's dedicated website that goes from strength to strength. Roland's knowledge and enthusiasm for MotoGP deserves all the success he can get.

Motorcycle Live

This year we had three car loads of past members causing traffic havoc on the way to and inside the NEC for our annual tyre kicking contest. Subsequently the place was heaving with crowds of punters, except noticeably the deserted scooter stands.

The ladies on various displays were relieved to be spared from our molestation this year - we are getting that old!

Embers Cycling

Our cycling year had a slow start mainly due to Dave Parry, Peter Wright and Ian Bower gallivanting off for a motorcycle tour of New Zealand in January. As well as several past members who live there and in Australia, the southern hemisphere suffered further devastation.

Our cycling gathered pace (not speed) with our annual tour of Weston-Super-Mare and then plunged into summer that was on Thursday 25 July.

Our 55 rides covered 1471 official miles on many new (to us) roads. Simon Over, Grahame Billington, John Ashworth and Derek Jordan exceeded that total by often riding too and from our start point to warm up and cool off. By the end of the year we were suffering some awful weather and four out of five thirsty rides were postponed to Friday to avoid the worst rain.

We are so keen to make a start on 2020 that we have already posted previews of all our rides beginning with our Cycling Index page and we look forward to welcoming new riders to our ranks. That's you.

2020 Vision

We head into another unknown year we intend to achieve great new things on even if there is bugger-all progress on Climate Change or Brexit.

Rally badges were very much on the back-burner in 2019 due to one thing and another (mostly another) so they are overdue some serious commitment. Francois also forced my hand regarding rally patches. Did you notice that they are now shown in our Rally Report Alphabetic indexes? Send in your 2019 rally badges soon so that I can make a proper start on updating pages from February.

Wishing you health and happiness in 2020, and maybe a few miles of motorcycling. You cannot have too much of a good thing but you can damn‑well try!