The 2016 Brit Butt Rally has just been and gone, it was a bit of a blur, well as much as a 36-hour event can be, but here is my account of my 3rd attempt at the rally, it’s a bit wordy, sorry. Rally HQ this year was at the Premier Inn at Leicester Fosse Park. Check-in was to open at 1pm on Friday 27th May so I headed down there in good time, got booked in the hotel and unpacked. The check-in involves you signing in, dropping off a memory stick, having your starting portrait photo taken, then having a technical inspection of the bike done (all lights working, good tyre life etc) and finally to then ride a pre-determined route to check the odo accuracy. After the odo check you get the rally book, your individual rally flag (a numbered tote bag) and your memory stick back with location files to use with mapping software and Sat Navs. In previous years I’ve often ended up spending a long time queueing to get checked-in, but this year, as I was hoping to grab a nap on the afternoon as my body had decided 4am was a good time to wake up, I made sure I was there at 1pm and was 2nd in line. Unfortunately Rick, who is the technical man, was late arriving and he then had to ride the odo route to establish a target mileage and ensure the route was still clear. So at 2pm I was finally able to check in, perhaps I’m just destined to spend time standing in hotel corridors. Then it was back to my room to have a look through the book and get the data sorted and into my laptop and Sat Nav. As usual there was plenty of options of places to visit, 89 locations with varying point values from 450 to 6,250, a text-in bonus between 9.30-10 on Sunday morning worth 3,000 points, and 5 combination bonuses worth from 2,000 to 7,500 points. 3 sleep bonuses were also available; 3 hours for 15,000, 1 hour for 3,000 and 30 minutes for 1,000 points, these could be taken individually or combined into one longer rest. It is tempting to start looking at route options at his point, and some people did, but Rallymaster John Young has organised some more information to come to us later which would affect any routes which we chose. This would be given to us after the 8pm meeting which followed a good carb-heavy meal in the hotel. I never got my nap btw, deciding a Guinness or 2 was better medicine. At the meeting we were given 3 envelopes and a pair of blue/red 3D glasses. We were all made to put the glasses on as John had prepared a 3D presentation, or not. He may be able to bring any given Triumph back to life but Mr Young’s technical ability does not stretch that far, so this was purely a stunt for the camera, the little trickster. The 3 envelopes, however, contained more relevant info: Envelope 1 – a mileage-based bonus. The logo for this year’s rally gave the clues to this, the slightly complicated detail was this: - For every mile travelled over 1,000 miles (Nirvana) we got 20 points per mile. - Arrive at the finish line with your total mileage at 1215 (Heaven) +/- 5 miles and we would get a 2,500 points bonus on top of the Nirvana points. 1215 was chosen as its the capacity of John’s Triumph Explorer, thank goodness he doesn’t have a 2300cc Triumph Rocket 3 (though he probably does somewhere). - Go over 1,300 miles and you would be penalised 100 points per mile. Envelope 2 – a time-based bonus. Again the 16:00 in the logo was a clue to this. Submit your paperwork for scoring at, or before 4pm on the Sunday and you would get 3,600 points bonus, this then decreased by 30 points per minute until the 6pm finish of the rally, after which time you would be classed as a DNF (Did Not Finish) Envelope 3 – 4 of the locations in the rally book were on islands; Isle of Wight, Isle of Sheppey, Angelsey and the Isle of Skye. It was now compulsory to visit one of these, and a 5,000 combination bonus would given for visiting both Isle of Wight and Angelsey. Don’t successfully claim one of the islands and you would be classed as a DNF. Before we were dismissed to start the head-scratching we were told that at 5.45am we would be given another instruction, though this wouldn’t affect any planning we were about to do. Looking at the spread of the higher point locations it was either going to be a trip to Scotland or the South Coast. Scotland is always a great place to ride, but I was concerned about returning with a very high mileage and close to the DNF deadline so decided on the South Coast. The biggest concern about my southerly route was the Bank Holiday/Half-Term traffic and potentially wasting time negotiating the Isle of Wight ferry crossings, but there was plenty of ferry timings and, well, traffic is traffic and I’m well practiced at filtering. The route I put together was about 1150 miles so quite easy to extend to the 1215 point and hopefully have time to pick up a few extra bonus locations too. Time for bed now, but only briefly as we had to be with the bikes by 5.30am on Saturday morning. Odo readings were taken (I took a photo of mine so I could workout what I’d need to aim for later), and then we were assembled for John’s little meeting. As our rally flags were bags he decided to send us shopping, the list being; a tube of smarties, a motorcycle magazine, some ladies sanitary products, a pineapple and a Leicester City football club badge. Each item was worth 250 points, with 750 additional points if all 5 were purchased. At 6am we were released! My first location wasn’t far away, a Triumph Memorial in Meriden, which was a combined bonus with the BSA Factory, my second stop. I frustratingly missed my turn off to the memorial, it only added 5 minutes but I was a bit annoyed with myself. I took the picture and set off again. At some traffic lights I glanced down at my notes and was reminded that the bike had to be included in the triumph memorial pic – now I had rested my flag on the top box, but I wasn’t sure how much bike was showing. Sure enough, when I checked the camera at the BSA Factory there wasn’t much bike showing so I had to return. I was very annoyed with myself now, this was a bad start and unusually clumsy for me. Next up was a Victory and Indian dealer, this had extra points available if it was open, but it wasn’t yet so I paddled on. A memorial in Tewkesbury and then a level crossing in Avonmouth were next. Unfortunately this meant a trip on the M5 which was bursting at the seams with holidaymakers heading to Cornwall, lots of congestion and rolling roadblocks – frustrating. Filling up after Avonmouth I did my first bit of shopping, some Lil-lets – I got the heavy load option as John's a big fella. After another stint on the M5 I was finally able to leave the motorway and get on some more entertaining roads. Cobbaton Combat Collection was next, somewhere I nearly ended up on the floor! The single track to and from here was basically 2 car tyre size ruts inbetween a collection of mud and gravel, my front wheel took a slip only once but it was enough to put my heart in my mouth. Then I was off to a Gnome Reserve, no, I don’t know why that exists either. There was some cracking roads around Devon, a place I’ve not ridden before, but they do seem to like having a sprinkle of gravel at most junctions – you’ve got to keep your wits about you. The last stop in Devon was the Hartland Quay Museum, then down into Cornwall to Port Isaac beach and to a memorial in Hayle. It was quite strange that, having ridden in really hot weather with bright sunshine, every time I approached the coastline the temperature dropped and the fog rolled in, Hartland Quay was positively chilly. I got some petrol (and a tube of smarties) next to the Hayle memorial and decided to have a snack and do a little paperwork sorting. I had put a little laminated strip inside with screen on which to put reminders – I had made a note already about the text-in bonus so I got my phone out and, with the photo from the morning I calculated the mileage I’d need to hit the 1215 mile bonus. So 3796 was my target, something I’d need to keep in mind on Sunday. Off to the Lizard Point Lighthouse next, this was part of a combination bonus with Dover lighthouse which I planned to visit on Sunday. The car park attendant gave me a bit of a look, so before he could ask me for some money I asked him if he’d had many others there taking a photo - 'nope, what is it for?’ I explained but I was a bit surprised he hadn’t seen anyone else, that said after the Indian dealer I also had’t seen anyone else. Then it was off to the Shipwreck Museum in Charlestown which seemed to appear out of nowhere, though that could be down to the backroads that my Garmin is determined to make me go down. Next was a little ferry crossing in Bodinnick, a shot of the Jamaica Inn and Dingles Fairground Centre. At the Jamaica Inn I bumped into Chris Butler, who also said he’d not seen many others either. I was sure there’s be more of us down that way but maybe they’d all been put off by the traffic and the forecast of storms in the area which luckily hadn’t appeared, yet. As it was, not long after, on the way to Dingles, I stopped for the biggest wee of my life and the clouds rumbled and flashed. I quickly put some waterproofed gloves on and made sure things were plastic wrapped, Luckily I must have headed away from the storm as I only got a couple of drops on the visor, phew. Saturday drew to a close for me with a visit to Lydford Castle, Chuddleigh War Memorial and then Thruxton Circuit. Unfortunately I got drenched on the leg to Thruxton but was able to dry off when the skies cleared. From Thruxton I headed to Winchester Services on the M3 to have my sleep bonus while I waited for the first ferry of the day to the Isle of Wight. I had made up the time that I’d lost in the morning but really there was no benefit as I had to wait for the ferry to the Isle of Wight. I had considered getting the last ferry there on Saturday but the photo of Carisbrooke Castle had to be taken in daylight so that wouldn’t work. I booked myself on the 3am ferry and a return on the 6am, I’d still be arriving in the dark but dawn was 4.59am so I’d have time to take the pic and grab the return ferry. Then I grabbed a bite to eat and settled down in a soft chair in Costa to try and drop off, except it was too bright and loud, even with plugs in. I think I did drop off but it must of only been for about 15 minutes. Not good. I picked John his motorcycle magazine up here, Dirtbike Express, something a bit different. I had 4 hours at Winchester before heading down to Portsmouth, I was going to be early for the ferry but I thought I’d get there and wait. I thought the ferry would be quiet and I may be able to nap, but the 3am ferry seems to be the night-bus home for party-goers so it was a bit raucous, plus I couldn’t rest as they hadn’t strapped the bike down and I was convinced I’d find it on its side. As I was still a bit early for daylight I decided to stop in Newport centre for 30 minutes to get my last sleep bonus. This was a bit nervy as there was quite a large group of drunk folk around the corner – they seemed in good spirits but I was pleased when my 30 minutes clicked by. While stood there I’d re-checked the ferry times and saw there was a 5am ferry – if I was quick I reckon I could get the back and be back for that ferry, so I set off. There was quite a group already at the castle, Dave Johnstone and his party had slipped up, arriving after dusk on Saturday so they had ended up sleeping up there. I said hello, but gotta dash to get the ferry. But the ferry wasn’t there – in my tiredness I’d looked the times for the other direction, what a numpty. Dave and his group caught me up and we had a coffee and got the ferry together. I had another check on the laptop and decided to add in the Isle of Sheppey, a location I’d originally discarded as it was a bit of a back-track rather than on a circular route. First stop of the day was the Mermaid Inn in Rye, quite a hike from Portsmouth and I was really struggling with tiredness on that part of the journey, my brain was definitely not firing on all cylinders. Dover Lighthouse next, which was a bit of a chore – not so much that it was at the end of an un-made road, well, bridleway is probably more appropriate, but more that they are really messing about with the roads around Dover and it was slow progress. Then off to a carving, The Two Pilgrims in Chilham and a statue of St Jude in Faversham. Now was my trip to the Isle of Sheppey, it wasn’t quite as big a dog-leg as I’d feared so that was good but the roads were busy and I was having another low-energy ebb so it was bit painful. It’s an impressive bridge over to Sheppey though. Hadlow Castle gates were next, no drama though the roads were very slow around The Kent Garden Festival due to lane closures to direct traffic into the event and it was quite busy. The Owl Inn in Kingsfold was next. My Garmin took me on to the M25, which then slowed to a crawl, very painful. I was starting to get behind schedule and feeling a bit hassled about getting back in time. The woman I asked to take my picture at the Owl was not a good find either, taking 2 pictures of her own face before finally taking mine, I think that’s why I look like I’m deflating in the picture. At the next stop, the Clock Tower in Abinger Hammer, I decided to then head straight back to the finish, dropping some ruins near Wheatley which was only worth 750 points. As I got back to the M25 my heart sank, it was still full and very slow. I hooked off at the M4, over to the M40 then across to the M1. On this leg I was looking into my mileage and it looked like I was going to be 40 miles short of the 1215 target I’d noted on my screen. I figured that it could be worthwhile sacrificing some of the time bonus from returning earlier to hit the 1215 target as it the points would be worth more. As I hit the M1 and it crawled into 50 limit I decided to do it. So I came off onto the A5 and did 40 minutes of up-and-downing a decent stretch, a part where I could keep quite a good speed so that less time was spent doing it. Join the dots on this pic and you’ll see (each point is 10 minutes apart): Finally the numbers added up and I got back to the hotel 4 miles over target, but within the +/- 5 miles allowed. I’d kept my paperwork up-to-date as I’d gone along so it was only a couple of minutes before I put my claim sheet in and went for a well-earned shower. At scoring I had my first ever disallowed points, on the Isle of Sheppey I hadn’t taken the picture at the back of the church, we were told to do so I should have known better. Oh well, I still had quite a big number of points so was pleased. After a meal we all assembled for the results. Counting up the table I was comfortable that I was up the top end of the spectrum. Eventually I got called up as part of the top 3, always a nervous time, not that I expected to win, but there could be a chance… I was called out as 3rd, amassing 104,230 points! A great result. Before announcing who, between Robert Koeber and David Horsfall was the victor (it was Robert, but by a very narrow margin), it was mentioned how few had made the 1215 mileage bonus. ‘At least I had’ I thought, looking down at my certificate – hang on, it says 1254, not the 1219 I was expecting! A penny came down from heaven and hit me between the eyes, somehow I had miscalculated, substituting 1250 for 1215!! So not only had I messed that up I had wasted time and fuel doing it. What a proper numpty. Thankfully looking at the final scores it seems that I wouldn’t have improved my position if I hadn’t made my mistakes. Every rally is a learning experience and I’ve definitely got a few things to take away from this one. I’m still not sure how I made the 1250 error – I wasn’t tired, used a calculator rather than mental arithmetic and had clearly got 1215 written down, all very strange. Thanks to everyone who organised the rally, sadly this is John Young’s last as Rallymaster, he leaves some big shoes to fill.