Chunky Tread Hard Nuts Xmas Do
Weekend Date - 9 - 11 December 2016
By Ren Withnell
The Chunky Tread Motorcycle Adventure Club is a virtual club. The creator, Pete Johnson, says it's the virtual club that does virtually nothing. And yet for a virtual club that does virtually nothing Pete has put in an inordinate amount of work and effort to organise a weekend's camping in mid December. This is to be more of a gathering than a traditional rally but still someone has to organise the campsite, the food, the bunkhouse, the promotion, the payments and the directions for attendees. It sounds easy doesn't it? You tell Pete that when he's tearing his hair out worrying about entertainment and facilities.
Chunky Tread Flyer.
Being in December the weather ought to allow the really roughty toughty bikers show just how rough and tough they really are by camping outside in the cold wind, the wild rain, the driving snow and the icy frosts. Those whom don't feel the need to demonstrate how "well 'ard" they are can use the bunkhouse which isn't exactly 5 star hotel standard but is warm, dry, clean and serviceable. I need to use my tent to make sure it's ready for my hopefully forthcoming trip to Cornwall this winter. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
As I depart my abode the weather is not cold. It's a little wet but that's to be expected in Manchester yet temperatures around 8,9 and 10 degrees C are positively balmy to that which we'd usually expect on December 9th. I had hoped to be there before dark, around 1600 presently, but work got in the way gosh darn it. Not to worry, I have but a mere 10 miles to travel. I must say it feels like I'm going camping in my back yard.
The rain is lashing down hard now as I put the tent up in the dim light from the CBF125. This is far from ideal.
Within the bunkhouse there is a large common room where about 14 or 15 familiar faces are joined by a couple of unknown ones. After the usual mocking greetings I strip off my wet outer gear and settle in. There's no band, no bar, no DJ and there's absolutely no need for any of these things whatsoever. I'm happy to sit here drinking hot tea and talking to the other Chunky folks. In fact I think it's better, I can hear my friends clearly.
Just chilling and talking.
I get talking to one stanger, Åsa. She's a tall Swedish blonde with legs right the way up to her armpits (steady boys, she's spoken for). The name Åsa is pronounced "Oooersa" or is it "Oeersa" or is it "Oorsa"? She tells me 3 or 4 times and I'm still non the wiser, how embarrassing and typically British. She normally rides a Versys 650 but through yesterday and today she's ridden here from Weymouth via Stoke on a CG125. She's already earned my respect, that's a proper trip. It also takes a little guts to attend an event where you don't know anyone before you get there.
Asa and the mighty CG125. The "L" plates aren't hers, her partner is learning at the moment.
However soon enough she's drawn into the various conversations around the table and apart from her Swedish accent we're all chatting like old chums. Turns out she's the real deal, travelling and living all around Europe.
I think I need to sort my mattress situation out...again. Last night wasn't too cold and I have slept but my hip is sore as my mattress is too thin to keep it off the ground. Not to worry, all is well as Pete has laid on a bacon and egg barm for everyone and life looks wonderful through eggy goodness and hot tea. By 'eck I needed that.
Bacon and egg butty is just what you need after a night under canvas.
Being the local lad with the local knowledge it seems I'm leading a ride out. It's the other riders I feel sorry for. Asa will be fine on the CG125 but I'm not sure the 2 BMW GSs or the Vstrom 650 will be able to keep up with my CBF125. I promise them I'll keep my speed down and try not to lose them. With that I set off keeping my revs down to a sensible 6,000 rpm to give them a chance.
First stop - Adventure Bike Warehouse. We peruse the products and drink tea kindly provided by the owner. I then lead our merry crew through the delights of Prestwich, Whitefield and Bury before finally unleashing the almighty power of 125cc in the countryside around Haslingden. I can see the bigger bikes are struggling to keep up so I have to back off. Asa is struggling to go this slowly on the CG125 but she's doing her very best I can tell.
A warm welcome to the Adventure Bike Warehouse.
Winfields next. Within the cafe we drink more tea and dine, sat amongst the collection of vintage motorcycles. We're joined by a couple of other Chunkies who are in a van(? - dont ask). There's much excitement and pennies are spent in the camping section of Winfields. I consider a new mattress but there's a problem - well 2 problems actually. Comfortable = thick = bulky and heavy. Bulky and heavy isn't really what you need on a motorcycle. Also my inherently short arms, deep pockets, hermetically sealed wallet and miserly nature prevent me form going wild.
On the return trip we are down to 3 riders. 2 lads have gone off in search of KTM heaven at The Rocket Centre leaving Asa, Kelvin and myself to tackle the fabulous Broadhead Road in to Edgeworth. While the skies are grey the rain has stayed off and there's dry patches on the tarmac. It's a wonderful feeling hearing the 125 motor wailing in third gear as I try to achieve 40mph up this hill but I need to slow down and allow my companions time to absorb this little patch of green between the conurbations of Greater Manchester, Blackburn and Preston.
Regrouped back at the campsite and the bunkroom we are treated to a meal by Pete. Chilli, rice, roast potatoes and naan breads all prepared by Pete's long suffering wife and cooked by Pete himself. 'Tis a hearty meal with seconds for those that can manage it. The virtual club that does virtually nothing? I don't think so, Pete and Sharon his wife have pulled their tripe out for us this weekend.
Later on Pete "does" his presentation about his trip around America visiting as many Manchesters as he can. We sit and giggle at his tale. I find it hard to imagine the miles and the distances, they seem ridiculous when compared to those I'm used to on my little island. The evening rolls on and the booze is consumed. There's singing along to ukulele provided by Pete with assistance from myself. There's a lot of talking. There's several breakdowns into hysterical laughter. Then there's tiredness, my uncomfortable mattress is calling me.
Another round of bacon and egg butties brings an end to the weekend. There's also a lot of cleaning to be done, the bunkhouse must be left clean and tidy. We brush we wipe we mop and we empty bins till all is looking ship shape. All that remains is to thank Pete for his efforts and make the long and arduous 10 mile ride back to my house.
Asa's blog, it's in English and a good read. - forza.greynorth.net
Pete Johnson's trip around the American Manchesters - unitedstatesofamanchester.blogspot.co.uk
Watch our merry bunch murder a perfectly good tune (courtesy Jean Bowman - thank you
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