Today is the morning after the Dirt Buggy Weekend in Bala and it’s safe to say, it’s broken a few of us. Mainly as a result of reckless driving (Keith, Mark), some were obviously hoping to create alternative routes off-track (Tom) and others didn’t want to push anything more than the 5mph rolling speed (Dan). All in all, (and before I start waffling on) it’s been a fantastic weekend and thank you to everyone involved!
Arriving 3.5 hours before the rest of the team at the Bala Bunk House just outside of town, I killed some time playing ‘actual’ Solitaire and commandeering the best bunk(s) and room. When the rest of the troops arrived, the ‘Rose’ of our group, the talented Adam Armitt, provided us with a meaty spread straight from the BBQ he smuggled into Paul Hornby’s Duracell run vehicle (which he subsequently ‘grounded’ at the entrance of the Bunk Houses’ driveway).
The Bunk House by the way, is located on the outskirts of the town and run by Jane and Guy who live in the neighbouring house; was surrounded by plenty of woodland and greenery, a babbling brook and lots of nature’s ambience. A great setting for getting all muddy! Honestly, if you ever need a place to stay in the area, have a group of mates or family and need some shelter, it’s ideal. It’s also home to one of the scariest rope swings I’ve ever seen. Attached to a small, dying branch and when in the dark, swings into a void of absolute nothingness…
Our evening consisted of a ‘quick’ trip to town and not long after the first pint, a “10 drinks in 10 locations” challenge was set….and swiftly dismissed, after we realised there’s a distinct lack of locations in central Bala. Not conceding defeat quite so early, we found a fantastic friendly “Beer Emporuium” called Stori, run by the incredibly accommodating Fiona and her Husband Neil. If you ever find yourself in or travelling through Bala, I HIGHLY recommend a visit. A true gem. http://www.storibeers.wales/
This was followed by a visit to swanky Italian digs that served up Garlic Bread and Quami…(yeah I had no idea what that was either). A couple of hours later, we were back at the bunk house, some old ‘Table’ games ensued, including some idiot’s suggestion to drink Habanero Sauce as a forfeit. Yeah, thanks pal.
The following morning was the big event, Buggy Racing! One English breakfast later (cooked again by Adam and supported brilliantly by Baked Bean stirrer Neil) and we were off (in convoy) for the short trip over to the track. Safety briefing done, overalls on and our lives’ signed away to a man in a garage who builds rally cars, we ‘set up’ our base for the day. Gazebo, stove, kettles, we were ready.
Numbered 1-13, the drivers are as follows:
1 – Dan
2 – Mick
3 – Pete
4 – Neil M
5 – Dr Tom
6 – Jaime
7 – Edge
8 – Colin
9 – Boothy
10 – Paul
11 – Keith
12 – Mark P
13 – Adam
Dan and Mick set the pace (With Dan’s inclusion, that’s somewhat an oxymoron) as the first pair out, Mick showing us what the Buggy’ were capable of and showing us all what can be achieved in these incredibly fun micro machine’s. Big puddles ensured that the overalls were definitely required.
Most pairings races went without a hitch but the first culprit of major marshal assistance fell to Dr Tom, who for whatever reason just couldn’t keep his Buggy on the track. This didn’t happen just once either, he was attracted the undergrowth! Unfortunately for Tom, he couldn’t blame the mud…the first drivers benefited from a cleaner and better conditions for handling. No excuses Dr, diagnosis “reckless”. Tom had told myself just 15 minutes before how he wasn’t competitive! Yeah right.
The next incident(s) fell to Boothy, who fooled himself into thinking he was a decent driver because he has “previous experience” in other motor sports…well, the same guy managed to get his buggy perpendicular to the direction of the track…on a straight, forcing lady driver Paul to stop. A big telling off later (for going too fast on his first practise lap) from the scary Nathalie (Marshall), he proceeded to drive up an embankment, on the edge of the track and was lucky to escape another scathing attack, if it wasn’t for shinning Knight Alistair’s (Marshall) quick defence of the road hog. Mark then claimed that this wasn’t his fault and speed was not this issue on this occasion and that he actually saved the lives of a colony of Rabbits, that just happened to run across the track seconds before he went off again. Somehow, this was accepted.
Witnessing first-hand the anger that Natalie directed at Mark, this obviously wasn’t enough to deter the next Buggy Bad Boy, Keith. Flooring his start, wheel spinning away for his first lap, he was already singled out as a potential pest for Alistair and his Buggy rescue act(s). The inevitable happened and Keith lost it, which led to an even angrier Marshall response. But why settle with one smacked wrist, when you can ignore all the advice and get a second? So, as you can guess, Keith was on the end of another vocal lashing and with tail between his legs given the first formal warning of the afternoon.
The track’s conditions started to deteriorate near the end of the first round of pairings and continued to turn into an ice rink come the second set of laps. Less control meant more work for Alistair, poor lad. Corners were less about turning the steering wheel and more about what line you could take in order to hit the outside embankment to guarantee realigning the buggy to face down the track.
With everyone now embracing the mud and throwing the buggies around like rag dolls, the afternoon soon came to an end. After a quick strip off and a thanks to the team who looked after us for the day, it was time to name a “Star Driver”. You’d like to think it was given to the fastest, most skilled or even the best driver overall but you’d be wrong. Paul was named Star Driver because he stopped his buggy after getting some mud on his visor and wasn’t comfortable with continuing with limited vision. He was praised for being a wet lettuce safe and considerate driver. Saga are preparing your insurance quote mate.
So Buggy racing finished, it was time for showers (not together obviously), a quick change and another venture into Bala. Dinner booked at a pub in town, which was distinctly, ermmm…awful. Given the choice, I’d rather down a bottle of Vinegar than eat another of those burgers again.
So on we swanned to our favourite new place Stori, for more ‘soft drinks’. But wait, it was closing at 9, on a Saturday? What’s going on? “we’re serving the crowds at the Elvis tribute night being held at the local Sinema (Yes it’s spelt correctly with an S) centre down the road”. So of course, some of the lads saw this is an ideal opportunity to make an evening and so off we trotted to see the Welsh Elvis in action.
Well…I’m not a great fan of Elvis but the night was fantastic. The lads embraced, sang and danced with the local oldies and probably gave the night the kick it needed. Neil throwing his boxers at Elvis was probably the moment of the evening but there are some great photos from the evening, included Adam’s incredible selfie with the main man himself. The night had been put on by a local committee who are trying to raise funds to keep the Sinema from closing and if they keep holding nights like that every week, I can see them saving that place and having it rocking for a long time yet. Still some legs in that old girl, well done gang.
So back to bunk house again for an improvised mini-dance off, which I quite literally wiped the floor with and off to bed we went.
Sausages for breakfast, a quick tidy and we were packed up to go by 9am.
Honestly, a fantastic event, a fantastic weekend and as always, fantastic company. I could have written more but my lunch break finishes soon and that’s all I could get in 😉
Thanks to all involved, Neil Mc especially for organising everything, top work. More images can be found in our Facebook Album!
Same again next year right?
Buggy number 6. Jaime.