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General Chat/Anything Goes

The Future of Rallies

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The Future of Rallies

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This was in last months BSH and while it's a bit of a long rambling thing I think it does raise some interesting points and given that I'm no spring chicken anymore a lot of it rings true.

So what's your thoughts on it people?
Bike Rallies Must Evolve or Go The Way Of The Dodo
By mid-October last year, I was glad to see the end of my rally season but even then I knew that by the end of February I would be itching for the new season to start.
Of course there are a number of bike rallies between November and March, but camping has lost much of its magic for me over the past ten years as the ravages of arthritis and spondylitis have increasingly taken their toll.
I’m sure there are some winter rally-goers who would consider me something of a ‘Wuss’ for my refusal to camp in frost-encrusted tents but after many years of doing just that, and much worse, I have no regard for the sneering opinions of such sanctimonious fools.
Though I had enjoyed the sixteen rallies I attended from April and October, I can’t say 2015 had involved anything that served to ease my steadily escalating detestation of camping. In fact after camping at three events in August whilst suffering an increasingly severe chest infection I had no alternative but to stay in a B&B for the weekend of the Let’s Get Two-Hatted rally.
This too would no-doubt provoke shrieks of derision in certain quarters but in this too, I have little interest in the judgemental opinions of ignorant buffoons.
The fact is that I am no longer as young as I was and as I have aged, time, work, injuries and the ravages of a magnificently hedonistic and greatly prolonged youth, have left me less able to physically withstand the extreme conditions that 30 years ago I thought of as ‘no problem’. And the sad fact is, that in this regard, I am a fairly typical example of the average British biker.
There is no getting away from the fact that the population of bikers in the UK is an aging one. Far fewer young people are entering our beloved lifestyle than there were in the 1960’s 70’s, and 80’s and it has become obvious to me as a rally organiser over the past 25 years that the vast majority of regular rally-goers stem from those three decades.
Perhaps the greater proportion of disabled people at the events I organise has made me more acutely aware of this issue but my discussions with other rally organisers suggest that the aging population and its related issues are becoming ever more obvious at the majority of UK bike events.
I am sure better minds than mine will be working on the question of ‘How to encourage more young people to join the biker lifestyle?’ for years to come but a more immediate question for the me and many other event organisers is ‘How do we stop the falling attendances at rallies?’ because over the past five years all of the larger motorcycle rallies have seen significant reductions in the numbers of people attending.
Obviously the recession has affected the amount of money people have available for leisure activities but I believe an equally effective deterrent to many people attending rallies has been the narrow-minded exclusionary attitudes towards people who for one reason or another cannot attend rallies on bikes or trikes.
All too often I hear the mantra “Bike rallies are for bikers, not car drivers”, but if you actually think about this statement for a minute it is easy to see what utter nonsense it is.
Do you cease to be a biker when you are at work or shopping at a supermarket? What if you’re sitting in a taxi pissed on your way home from a pub? If you get on a plane to go off on holiday does that part of your soul that is a biker stay at home waiting for you to send it a postcard?
Personally I believe that, if you are a biker, you are a biker all of the time. I know I am exactly the same person whether I am on a bike, trike, car, van, truck, train or plane; and that person has been a biker for forty years and has spent the last twenty-five of those years actively working on a daily basis to ensure that disabled people are not excluded from the motorcycle scene, so I greatly resent anybody accusing me of not being a biker purely because I often have need to use other forms of transport.
With an aging population of bikers and falling attendances at rallies, isn’t it time to consign the “No cars, No vans, No pedestrians, No excuses” mantra to the shit-can of history?
Due to the work of the NABD over the years, most events do now allow some cars for those who have the official ‘Parking Card for Disabled People’ (Blue Badge) but most still make no provision for those bikers who have disabilities that do not qualify them for a blue badge (of which there are many), or those who are temporarily unable to ride due to illness or recent injury, or who may need to use a car because they are bringing their children with them, or who for whatever reason require more camping equipment than can be safely carried on a bike, or those who have been mercilessly shat-on by a heartless government to the point where they find themselves financially unable to keep a bike on the road at present.
Most bikers would stop to help another biker broken down at the side of the road, and much is said of the camaraderie amongst bikers and how bikers are ‘one big family’. How thin is that veneer of fellowship if we then exclude our friends from events purely because for some reason they cannot attend that event on a bike or trike?
One thing is very certain; unless we die young, we all get older. And with the aging process the likelihood of illness, disability and/or infirmity increases. Those who currently insist on the “No cars, No vans, No pedestrians, No excuses” rule may well find themselves at some future time still able to ride a naked bike but no longer able to handle the weight of a bike full of camping gear because of arthritis. Will they then blithely say “Oh well, I won’t go to any more rallies because I’m not a ‘real biker’ anymore”?
But then, perhaps that decision will not be theirs to make because unless we reverse the declining attendances at top quality rallies such as the NABD’s You’ve Been Nabbed and East Yorkshire MAG’s Farmyard Party these events will simply cease to exist. Both organisations rely greatly on the proceeds of these events to fund their vital work of protecting our biker lifestyle. If events like these are allowed to die because of puerile intolerant attitudes like these, the organisations they support will soon follow and that could only be to the detriment of biking as a whole.
If you believe that bikers should stick together and support each other through bad times as well as good times, then support NABD and MAG rallies first and foremost because, they exist to support biking and bikers (as well as being exceptionally high quality events) and remember that everybody else is there supporting our beloved biking lifestyle, they are all kindred, irrespective of how they arrived.
Rick Hulse
This article was first published in Back Street Heroes magazine in February 2016.

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Gloom @ 08/03/2016 10:25  

Good topic and will get loads of good and bad replies.
My thoughts are simply this.
If the likes of MAG and other large organizations dont look at what they are offering they will continue to loose on ticket sales. Poor food, Over priced drinks, and a charge for the glasses that get all the kids going round on the last day taking them off you bike or gear as your packing up. All of which puts a dampener on the weekend.
The issue over cars and vans is a big one. I know that some of the smaller rallys have to do this as space is at a premium and if there is no off site parking having 100 of the 300 tickets going to car drivers it will fill the site up with cars and then the last 75 that turn up have no space for there tents to be put up. Dont forget the safety aspect on cars and vans if you go out on your bike its not that hard to work you way around the tents but if your in a car van or god forbid a camper how many tents could be ran over with the occupants still in them. By far the biggest thing that is killing rallys is the scum that are targeting them for easy pickings by following the party happy attendees back and robbing the tents of all valuables.

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JP @ 08/03/2016 11:54  

If it's all about the money. Let anyone in.
I fail to see how driving a car in less than glorious weather and staying in a b&b encourages people to ride bikes.
Exclusivity breeds desire.
As I've stated before. Some bikers also own cars.
Some car drivers also own bikes.
I really have no desire to spend the weekend with a bunch of car drivers dressed like they imagine bikers dress.
But , like I stated earlier. If it's all about the money. Let anyone in . I don't mind coz I won't be there.

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dustin666 @ 08/03/2016 16:33  

Definitely a good topic, something I have come up against so often.
I would love to go to rallies always on my bike but unfortunately on a bad day (thanks to a bike accident) I would not be safe riding my bike with all my camping gear so it's a case of go in my car or miss out. Just because I don't qualify for a blue badge or have a visible disability don't mean I am not disabled, so I think people also need to think before criticising those that don't go on a bike to a rally to me it's all about still being able to have fun with my friends and also about supporting the people /organisations running these rallies.
Almost all of the rallies/events I attend now I am there doing a stand for nabd, at least that way I don't have to justify to anyone why I am not on my bike.

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Cruiser gal @ 08/03/2016 20:33  

Can't stand camping, never ever liked it but did it at rallies many times in the past, until one day about 15 years ago I said 'feck it, no more', I like my comforts too much.
Will only camp if I have to (when travelling long distances in remote places or in countries where their homes or guest houses are tents etc)
It has never stopped me attending rallies when I have wanted to, I just stay at mate's houses or BnB's, who cares if folk laugh, let 'em, its cheering someone's day up

As for cars at rallies, I disagree with them being there if they are taking up far too much space that bikes or tents could have, but there definitely should always be some space set aside at all rallies for those who cannot drive bikes for physical reasons.

I have had no transport to rallies several times in the past, I just got taxis and got 'em to drop me at the gate , I did that for a couple years running at one of my local MC rallies, whilst they did have a right good laugh at me, they did give respect to me for forking out for the fare just to get there (though they arranged for a pilly lift for me the following year lol), so different strokes etc. The fact you are attending and supporting a rally is enough in my eyes, who cares how you get there?

If people don't like that someone isn't on a bike at a rally that is their issue and business, I say sod 'em x

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Deleted Member @ 09/03/2016 10:52  

" I am sure better minds than mine will be working on the question of ‘How to encourage more young people to join the biker lifestyle?’ "
If there is such a thing, does rallying define it?
I think not.

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izzyhill @ 13/03/2016 10:14  

The thing is rallys are important as they allow the younger element to mix with the old fossils, like myself. When I was young it was pubs and clubs that performed that function. You have all the bikes parked up in rows outside the pub and stand there with your poison of choice in your hand and get drunk and discuss the pros and cons of the different builds. It also allowed the teenagers walking past to get some idea of the lifestyle, as long as they stuck to looking and not touching.
Those days are well and truly gone and although I look back and miss them it's probably just as well.

So that leaves social events like rallies try and get the younger crowd interested.

And yes being a biker is a lifestyle, it's in the blood and there is sod all you can do to change, I know, I've tried. It should not be confused with people who ride motorbikes for recreation on sunny afternoons. There is nothing wrong with either and both have there good points and bad points. It would be boring if all people who liked two wheels were the same.

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Gloom @ 13/03/2016 17:11  

Two cans of worms here, 2005 Disability Act, and the 2010 Equality Act, to bar a person with a Disabled Parking Badge "Blue Badge" is a criminal offence, It works several ways as when the Local Authority and West Midlands Police put a ban on Motorcyclists visiting a local get together place I had to play the blue badge card, and the same goes for any event organizers they have to make provision as far as reasonably practicable for people with disabilities,

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Deleted Member @ 13/03/2016 20:31  

They could say if your on a trike you can enter but to take a car onto the site could put others safety at risk. The act can work against its self under the health and safety act.

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JP @ 13/03/2016 22:25  

I have gotten to the point where I prefer smaller rallies, I like the atmosphere better, that's just me :)
I spend more time on camping weekends rather than rallies these days.
As for cars being allowed, some folk have no choice for their own reasons and I don't think it is for me to make judgement on why without knowing the facts.
Def feel the cold more these days as well, so extra bedding is now required :)

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Brummie Jackie @ 14/03/2016 21:27  

Been to rallies and not really that fussed for them. Most folk who go to them spend their cash doing that rather than seeing what's out there so not really for me.

Take a week in Germany than spend 3 days sitting in a field (usually in wet) getting pished on over priced beer, fed over priced food and queuing for a piss

each to their own and leaves the good roads for rest of us

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madscots @ 14/03/2016 22:14  

Hi JP, good point raised, however any organization or group of people who organize any event have to carry out a risk assessment for safety and for camping an additional risk assessment for fire, this is controlled by the local authorities within the area who should be informed and at their discretion inspect the site, unless it is a unofficial gathering contacted with a land owner where no charges apply in the terms of the contract and no entry charges are made.

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Deleted Member @ 15/03/2016 11:48  

JH To be honest I haven yet seen a rally advertised that says no car including, Blue Badge Holders, Most will ask for prof of badge and send you a permit to park or camp in a designated area I had to go to MAG rally one year by car due to having and opp a couple of weeks before and they sent me a car pass that got me onto the site carpark then picked me and all my gear up and moved it to the camping field for me. What makes things hard for the organizers is folk turn up in a car they are asked to park it a corner with the other cars and they just refuse to do it getting mates to block the car in with bike's so it cant be moved and taking up valuable camping space. Which is bloody annoying and the next year genuine folk are told park there carry your gear half a mile or sod off.

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JP @ 15/03/2016 13:41  

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kaycat @ 15/03/2016 14:52  

Not like you to be so silent, KC!

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Wills @ 15/03/2016 15:02  

snigger will i know i dont know how that happend xx

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kaycat @ 15/03/2016 15:06  

I've read up on the rules for loads of Rallies, and often the gripe from the organisers is that they used to let cars onto the camping area to drop off kit, and then the car should be moved to the designated parking area, but folk then leave the car in the camping area and when challenged refuse to move it.

The result is that the organisers then have to refuse ALL cars and tell folk they'll just have to carry their own kit - and they put assistance in place for blue badge holders so they aren't left to do it on their own.

I've seen the same behaviour at a Homebrew get together - we'd been given permission to camp on a golf course, but with the obvious caveat of staying off the greens, and all cars to be removed from the camping area - this was made clear to all members who'd booked, both at the time of booking and upon arrival, yet we not only found loads of cars left on the camping area (then unable to get off because they'd been left there and subsequent arrivals had pitched tents blocking them in), and we even found two cars parked on a green!

I'm no fan of golfing, but that was just sheer disrespect, and put the organisers in a difficult position.

Selfish wankers like that unfortunately tend to ruin it for the rest of us

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Deleted Member @ 15/03/2016 18:32  

Here is my 2 pen'rth. A bike rally is just that, for those that ride bikes, and as such should be attended on a suitable machine. If you have mobility issues then ok special dispensation can be made for those needing to arrive in a car. Once at the event the car/van could be moved to a designated parking area not too far away from an area set aside for those requiring it. If those needing special dispensation wish to camp with their mates, then surely they can rely on those mates to assist with setting up the weekends needs, after all, isn't that what mates do for each other?
As for encouraging the next generation, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink! Perhaps bikers and rallies are destined to go the way of the dinosaurs, and become a thing of the past. A sad thought maybe but perhaps an inevitable consequence of time moving on. Good things don't last forever, and some fall by the wayside, never to emerge again.
I attended the KISS rally last year and took note of those who bothered to appear. I have to say that some that have been a bit vocal in the past about the location of the rallies in the past were nowhere to be seen, even though they claim to be hardened, dyed in the wool, all year round, all weather riders, and the venue was moved a little bit further north for easier access of our bretheren further north than Derby. Although to be fair and balanced, there was, as always, an appearance from the southern contingent, who I gather have taken on the mantle of organising this years rally. Good luck to you.
If you want to bitch about things not being to your liking then at least try to make an effort when an effort is made in your favour, ie too far south for you to travel. If you can do better, the floor is always yours for next years rally.

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double six @ 20/03/2016 01:36  

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