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BTBC Rivi Ron Memorial Run 2004 - By Ren Withnell

I had a friend. I knew him as I put him through his bike test some 7 years ago and we stayed in touch. We weren't best drinking buddies or closest pals, just 2 blokes with a common interest in bikes who'd have a chat and a brew. He died November 2003 from a heart attack. He introduced me to the Big Trailbike Club and the same club organised a memorial run in his name.

It was always going to be a bittersweet trip this one. Not only was the run to commemorate a good friend who I still missed, but I was booked and due to go with Cath, and it's not 3 weeks since she died.

Big Trailbikes ready to ride Big trailbikes ready to ride...at some ungodly hour...into some rough terrain...

So, on Saturday morning I got up, got dressed and loaded up. Clitheroe was the meeting point so that's where I went. I'm not really a good traveller, much as I would like to be, and I was quite nervous while waiting to go. The first trail had one difficult section which I had messed up before on a test run. I didn't want to embarass myself again infront of all these blokes.

The first trail, Salter Fell, went OK...for me. The difficult section caught out 1 lad who laid his bike down and another whom simply got stuck. I was successfully guided to the grass which proved much much easier. A little heaving and pushing and everyone was just fine, only dented pride. We carry on into the hinterlands of Lancaster on back roads and easy trails. Brew break at Caton.

After the brew break myself and another chap manage to get totally seperated from the group. We are aware we may miss some good trails but it seems wiser to make our way to the lunch stop. I'm glad I was not alone as my travelling companion, M, had a map without which we would never have found the lunch stop. M rides and old BMW and does not mess about! We get a little lost but we soon find ourselves at a beautiful camping and caravan site near Newby Bridge. We settle and chat and eventually splintered groups of hungry riders start to arrive. We eat a hearty lunch and set off onto some more trails.

Nice bum at the lunch break A rather nice view at the lunch stop...

These trails turn out to be superb fun! I'm already aware I'm one of the slowest off-roaders lacking both experience and skill on the trails. But still I make my way along loose stones and over rocky outcrops, suprising myself at how well a bike can cope with such odd surfaces. Eveyone else seems to be making it look so very easy, blasting up slopes and down gravel hills as easily as I could on a well surfaced tarmac lane. Time is passing quickly and after a fuel stop we need to make progress along tarmac to get to Maryport at a reasonable time.

Again we all get seperated, and one lad has a big off into a drystone wall. The chap following is convinced he's dead and approaches the scene with some trepidation. The downed rider appears from behind the wall in good working order though somewhat shaken, but his bike is very much out of action. After ensuring recovery was on it's way and the rider is OK he's left to his own devices and the trip continues.

Many mile of road follow until we arrive in Maryport. I stop to get my bearings...right outside the BnB I'm booked in at. On entering the BnB which is also a local cafe I'm accosted by a local biker type who is obviously very very drunk. I'm asked about my jacket, my bike and my choice of alchohol-free drink. Not perhaps the best introduction into Maryport, but a taster of things to come. I get my kit and settle into my pleasant room. The BnB is clean, well priced and very friendly, I like it.

The Curzon Grill, Maryport My BnB. Clean, comfy, simple and friendly.

After feeding we head into Maryport for the nights entertainment. The band at the pub are good but too loud for us to talk. The locals all seem to be inbred oddballs and the girls are all pasty white. We eventaully head off to the Yacht club. This comprises of a room over the port offices with a tiny bar serving lemonade from a Co-op plastic bottle and tinnies for those who want alchohol. Odd. I talk with some club members for a while then make the walk back to the BnB, I need to kick back and relax

Sunset in Maryport Sunset over the hills beyond the port

With the dire night life in Maryport I find myself really missing Cath. We would have laughed at the locals, discussed the days antics and she'd have made me feel better about not being very good at this off-roading malarky. We would have praised the food, laughed at the "new" cash machine in the Co-op and I would have been so proud of her for being the best looking girl in town that night. I talk to her on the walk back, and as I lay in my bed.

Big Trailbikes gathering for the return trip home Gathering the clan ready for the return home.

I'm up early the next day and make full use of the facilities by showering for half an hour!. Breakfast is served and we all go off to retrieve our bikes from various lock-ups round the town. The usual shenanigans ensue with people floating all around on bikes trying to find where we are supposed to be. We do finally find ourselves and set off for home. We follow some more country roads and take in a trail, but it's well into lunchtime and I want to get back to see my mates up at Rivvie. I leave the group and make the long motorway journey home and to Rivvie.

Stunning scenery on the way home Beautiful views on the route home.

Maryport is the land that time forgot. I can see it was once a busy port but geography and chance have turned the place into something of a backwater. The "new" cash machine looks like it came from the 80's when these things first became popular, the town is clean but not quaint, the feeling there is dated, lost and isolated. I think the spirit in the town attracts those seeking an alternative lifestyle which brings in more unusual characters and creates a vicious circle. It's unfair of me to judge the place having only spent one night there, but this is what I felt about it.

But the journey as a whole was a success, no doubt about it. The trails in the Lake district are superb, and I can see now why the walkers fight the bikers and the cyclists and the horse riders for control. When somewhere is this beautiful and varied, it becomes worth fighting for. The trails are interesting and challenging, the land is so green and the place is so vast. We were not perfectly organised, some folks got lost and things did not go according to plan. But there is no way I could have controlled over 30 bikes, cover such a distance over this terrain and with so many skill levels as well as H, the main orgaiser, did. Well done BTBC and well done H

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