The sun was shining brightly as we registered for the 2016 Heart & Soul Rally. Geordie Chapter has a new rally registration tent and it looked superb as Trish, Carol and Donna got everyone checked in, with Steve and John putting bands on bikes and trikes.
After greetings and chat, it was time to visit the Swallie Officers, Greg and Dave, at the Whey-Aye-Five-Oh welcome tent. Both looked extremely summery in their Hawaiian ensemble! Jack or Honey was the choice, with the faithful Friendship Barrel proudly on display.
Suitably fortified, it was soon time for the Friday ride-out. We had a quick scoot across to the school yard to find that many had already gathered, ready for the off. Steve gave us a briefing although he was very short of Road Crew – we had Steve at the front, Ray at the back with Tom, Bill and Shaun looking after the junctions, so we stepped in to help and took up the Pack Leader role.
A few wiggles and roadworks out of Percy Park led us to the A19 and the Tyne Tunnel. We collected together before the plazas, waiting for everyone to catch up. The blokes at the barriers marshalled us together and let us through in one bunch. All except Lee, who decided to make a bid for freedom on his own – we soon found him again though. We encountered quite a bit of traffic as we headed towards Port of Tyne and the V-Twins were getting very warm beneath our seats.
We navigated a series of speed bumps along South Shields front before tackling Whitburn, Roker and Sunderland city centre. It’s a great coastline and at times we were right on top of it, especially past Marsden Rock. Being a Friday afternoon, things were getting a bit busier and we lost sight of each other here and there but Steve slowed us down every now and again to re-group. The A1231 flashed by quickly and we found all the Road Crew again and onto the A1 before heading in to see the Angel of the North. Ice creams and refreshments came and went and then we headed down to Jennings Harley-Davidson Gateshead. We had lost a bit of time along the way, so it was a fairly brief visit. However, there’s always time for coffee and a piece of cake, all kindly laid on by Jennings! There were several routes taken back to the rally site, we used the Tyne Bridge and the Coast Road, both of which were pretty busy at four on a Friday. But, it was a great ride-out. Steve looked a bit edgy at times as we lost sight of the back markers however, it was another fantastic effort from our Road Crew.
Back at the rally site, Team Scotland had taken over much of the Cricket Club as we all sat down for some beers and some tea. The Oil City Shakers kept us entertained while we drank and munched, and Barry popped in to welcome everyone present to the rally.
Lots of people wore shirts, ties, shades and fedoras ready for the headline band in the Rugby Club, the Jailhouse Blues Brothers. With some lovely summer sunshine, we got underway. And, our Ladies of Harley – Trish, Ruth, Dawn, Helen, Helen, Carol, Lyn and Alyson – treated us all to a spectacular dance routine to one of the songs! A stellar performance! It was a great evening, very warm and just the weather that Helen had ordered. The Jailhouse Blues Brothers played a blinding set and everyone later wound their way back to the camp site and hotels for more beers and general tomfoolery.
Saturday soon arrived and with a huge breakfast to get us underway, it was time for the ride-out. Greg led the briefing in front of a packed crowd in the school yard. And very soon, we were away, heading for Alnwick, past Blyth, via Amble and Warkworth.
We had a great mixture of country roads, for the amazing Northumberland scenery, and dual carriageways, to cool us and our engines down. On and on we went, crossing the A1 at Denwick, before we stopped overlooking the impressive castle at Alnwick. Everyone collected together again, and as soon as Dave landed, Chris took our picture. In fact, several pictures. The weather was still great although we had a small threat of a shower or two.
We then funnelled through Narrowgate and onto Bondgate Within, home of our recent stop on the 2016 ABC Ride. Once again, Northumberland County Council had cordoned off the street for us, and we packed in like sardines as people stopped and stared. We were all ready for some lunch, and people headed for cafes, bars and the Market Place. Soon enough, the rain arrived just to annoy us but fifteen minutes later, it stopped as soon as it started. With a few flourishes from towels and cloths, we were back in business.
Leaving Alnwick, we headed across the moors, landed on the A697, then struck a course for Morpeth. The town centre was fairly busy and we became a bit strung out but again, everyone stopped to stare as we rolled on through.
We then headed back towards the coast, passing Seaton Deleval on the way. Pretty soon, we were at St Mary’s Lighthouse, with a quick right soon after then we landed back at Percy Park. A fantastic ride-out, about ninety miles in total, with our Road Crew doing a great job in keeping us all together and headed in the right direction.
In the Cricket Club later on, we watched Johnny Boyle, with a much larger cross-Chapter group, before heading back to the Rugby Club about nine o’clock for Barry’s speeches. There were awards galore, from our Bike Show (held while we were in Alnwick) to our collection for Prostate Cancer UK.
The Kill then played a great rockin’ set, with a whole stream of mainly American classics including Van Halen, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper. Things soon got very lively and we all enjoyed a great ending with Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer. Once they’d finished, our DJ saw things to a close.
Nothing happens by magic, everything takes a bit of effort and Dawn, our rally coordinator, and the rally team put in a huge effort to make the 2016 Heart & Soul Rally another amazing success. It takes a massive amount of organisation, from arranging bands, t-shirts and security to walkie-talkies, stalls and posters. Our superb Road Crew always manage to create a great ride-out for us too. We also had fantastic support from everyone in Geordie Chapter, from volunteering for gate detail, putting up our bunting and making the site look very welcoming. And packing it away, for another year, on Sunday.
Like most things in life, it’s the people who matter. We met so many like-minded souls from across the country, who contributed to create a great rally atmosphere. It warms your heart to know that we all have the same thing in common and the photos, videos and words help to capture our rally memories. Roll on next year!
Rob has posted some pictures, click here.
Chris has posted some pictures too, click here.