5th October 2012 - Barrel Bikers (Bucks) MCC
This was the first (non-BMF) rally I did in the Motorhome, but it was mostly because my wife, Helen, wanted to go, (she had done a couple of GPOs before), but was no longer able to get about the field without her Mobility Scooter, (this weekend we brought the big, all-terrain one, which was actually designed as a golf cart). We were directed to some space at the very end of the track which ran through the site, as was another camper van. We accepted this, as rallies are supposed to be bike-only events, and we were obviously not one.
The weather on Friday was not wonderful, consisting mostly of drizzle. Helen elected not to come out of the van for the evening, preferring to stay dry and warm, so I was on my own for the evening. Having said that, I soon discovered that a couple of members of my old club, Telstar BC from Guildford, were there, so we had a while to catch up in the food tent, amongst photos from the first 31 GPOs (most of which were mine!) and other BBBMCC events. Some girls from another club were happily making everybody 'Dickhead' style balloon hats, as well as a few unrecognisable animals.
The band were quite good, one of them being a John Lydon tribute act.
Saturday was a lot drier, although it felt a bit soggy underfoot, and several people had their wet clothing hanging up on makeshift clotheslines.
The quality of machinery at a GPO rally never ceases to amaze me, and this year was no exception.
The ground seemed to be getting wetter, even though the rain was non-existent and the skies were clearing up, and large puddles were appearing, which caused the organisers to move the portaloos a few feet.
Helen made good used of the ATV qualities of her scooter as people made use of boardwalks to get from the camping area to the marquee.
The puddles kept getting deeper, even though we were assured by the organisers everything was in order. A bit later, the two vans were advised to drive up onto a slightly higher piece of land as water was approaching us.
The games were cancelled, as the playing area was mostly underwater, and the marquee was starting to fill as well. The food tent was unaffected so far, so that was where most of us stayed for the evening. It didn't come as much of a shock, though, when the call went out: "Abandon field!". People managed to get their tents strapped to the bikes and were leaving the field on the ever-narrowing roadway. We just battened everything down and made our way to the gate as best we could. Just before the gate there is a bit of a slope, and some bikes were having problems driving up it. When our turn came, we were asked if we could take one passenger so that her rider could attempt it without her. We offered as much space as would be needed, but only one wanted a lift, so we chugged up and out.
Bikes were allowed to unload outside, as everything was packed a bit untidily, and it was then realised that many people had been drinking all day, (who would have thought it?), and plans were made to allow roadside camping for those that wished it. As I don't drink, and nothing needed rearranging in the van, we decided to call it a day and go home, (we lived fairly close), after dropping off our passenger, of course.
It was interesting to see a couple of photos of the aftermath, as almost the entire field was under several feet of water. I think that qualifies as the wettest rally I have ever been to!
Barrel Bikers GPO rally 2012
The Barrel Bikers MCC are a family orientated, fun loving club now based in Milton Keynes. Formed in 1979 in the town of Buckingham, the club is still going strong. Since 1980 the club have organised a rally each year which is called the GPO (Generally pissed off), from small beginnings the rally has grown and is now well established. The rally is very popular and well attended, indeed most years it's a sell out, so 2012 saw 500 rally goers looking forward to enjoying the 32nd GPO.
Although raining hard, the Friday night went really well, this year the club were running their own licensed bar for the first time, so with the real ale and cider flowing and the three really good bands playing; much fun was had by all.
Saturday morning the sun was shining and all was at peace with the world (apart from all the hangovers I'm sure) however around midday it all started to go wrong… with the heavy rain Friday plus all the rain from most of the previous week, a small stream had appeared down the middle of the site. No-one thought much of it and when it extended to a couple of meters wide a few tents were moved and people had fun splashing around and building pallet bridges.
Our rally secretary and chairman got in touch with the site owners and the environment agency and were assured that this was a "high" from last night's rain and would shortly subside. So the rally carried on as normal, drink was drunk and silly games were played. However the stream became a river, the river became a lake and soon we were moving stalls, tents and bikes for 10meters in every direction. At 4pm the environment agency were called again and we were again reassured that all would be ok and the water level would drop within the hour.
By 6pm the water had hit the bar and was half way through the marquee so when the first of Saturday evening's bands turned up the decision to cancel the bands was made. But with the reassurances of the EA, the Barrel Bikers kept the bar running (water now up to club members thighs behind the bar) and the catering tent kept hot food and drinks flowing.
As we got into early evening everyone on site began to realise there might be a problem as access to the camping on the far side of the new river/lake was cut off and only accessible by pallet bridges. Everyone took this with a great sense of humour and camaraderie and the camping area became known as "the island". But before too long, despite the environment agencies assurances, the flow increased exponentially and at 9pm we made the decision, along with the local police and fire services that we needed to evacuate the site.
Barrel members pulled together along with other local clubs and rally goers to move bikes out of the mire using trailers and 4 wheel drive vehicles. Barrel members stood up to their knees in ice cold water directing traffic while rally goers helped moving kit and people. The local police closed the main road so that rally goers who had been drinking could camp along the road verges. Members of Ogri MCC got a military-style sing along going up on the road as well as setting up all the camp stoves they could find to keep everyone warm and well supplied with tea.
The next day the fog lifted to reveal a rally site almost completely underwater. Nevertheless spirits were high up on the roadside - especially when some Club members and rally goers with caravans and camp stoves got the bacon sandwiches on! Everyone was successfully evacuated with no injuries or damage to bikes. Many people said the sense of emergency and everyone pulling together, helping friends and strangers alike, made it one of the best rallies ever.
The Barrel Bikers were back the next day rescuing the marquees, equipment and most importantly the beer!
The Barrel Bikers MCC would like to point out that while it would be easy to lay blame, the truth of the matter is that the GPO rally 2012 was just another victim (like so many other event throughout the country) to one of the wettest years we have seen. We would like to thank all clubs, rally goers, members of the public who supplied 4x4's and trailers, and emergency services personnel who pulled together to ensure a safe and well organised evacuation.
The GPO rally will return on the usual weekend in October 2013 (site TBC - groundwork's to the old site are underway to prevent future flooding but if we can find somewhere new we will!) and tickets will be available on our website from the 1st July - www.Barrelbikers.co.uk.
Club Secretary Barrel Bikers MCC
The 32nd GPO rally was held at the normal site in Milton Keynes by the Barrel Bikers.
My Friday run up was dry and trouble free and I cooked a jacket potato using my prototype potato stick.
After that it was into the beer tent to sample the cider. There were three bands that night and all were very good.
I went to the carvery at Wolverton for lunch and back to the site. The water in the river was a lot higher and had now started to flow through two areas of the site. I moved the tent twice, but by 6.30 decided to leave.
Praise must go to the Barrel Bikers for the effort they put into getting everyone through the water to the other side of the field. The club put a lot of effort into the rally. It was just a pity that freak conditions ruined it.
I shall be back next year as it is still one of the best rallies on the scene.
- Dave Ranger