The idea of doing a Northern Ireland meet so we could go and party with the N.I.Rats had been talked about for quite a while and eventually the idea became reality with the date been set for the end of July to be held at Larne Rugby Club.
Eventually the big day arrived and myself and my wife, Elaine set off at the unheard of hour of five in the morning to catch our ferry from Holyhead over to Dublin. After getting soaked crossing the Isle of Anglesey, we made the ferry with a few minutes to spare, got loaded on and settled down to our three hour crossing.
After docking, we started the next leg of our journey which was to meet up with John from the N.I.Rats at Lisburn who was going to take us up through Belfast to Larne. This we managed to do although it was a tad wet (read chucking it down) and took slightly longer than we imagined. On arrival at the site, we were greeted by a beaming Fonzy, Kieran and a few others. After dropping our gear off in the “Penthouse Suite”, it was off to a pub located in the middle of nowhere for a pint or 2 (or even more)of Ireland’s finest, Guinness. After getting prised out of the pub, (well, it was very comfortable and the beer was flowing rather well), it was back off to the site for a well needed few hours’ kip.
We woke up on Friday morning to fantastic sunshine, the complete opposite to the previous days. The guys set everything up and waited for the arrivals, which they duly did. The site quickly started to fill up, the beer flowed and new friends made. The evening’s entertainment consisted of a jam session and a group called Odibal, who unfortunately I missed.
Saturday was the main day with a run-out to the Roaring Meg custom show in Derry. After the obligatory breakdowns and bump starts, we were treated to some stunning views and scenery on the 70 odd plus miles to the meet up point with the show marshals who were going to escort us in to the heart of the show. On our arrival, the reception we got was breath taking. Crowds were on both sides of the entrance and we were guided to park right on top of the battlements, something that has not been allowed before, I’m led to believe. The show its self was rammed full of interesting bikes/trikes etc and had a really laid back atmosphere. When it came to trophy time, our very own Mal (who had come to Ratfest all the way from the north-east of England) won a very well deserved best rat for his ER5. If the ride there was good, the ride back was even more epic. We ended up taking the coast road for most of the route and were treated to some really cracking biking roads and some stunning views. Fantastic.
Once back at the site, the judging took place with Mal picking up his second trophy of the day, this time for best decorated while Ben got Best of Show for the Panzer. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who quite got what, but a Polish gentleman who goes by the name of Marek won Oddball for his blue Russian Lz bike which could only do 25mph tops but had ridden it all the way from Cork in Southern Ireland (a distance of 250 miles). Another Pole, Kurka, won Judges Choice with his Harley bobber which is a real work of art. Longest distance (male was won by Sebastian/Rafi who had come all the way from Spain for the weekend.The rest of the day slowly disappeared in a bit of a blur, due in no small part to a few pints of the black stuff.
Sunday came round far too soon and so did the task of packing up. After saying our fond farewells’ to everyone, off we set and didn’t have any problems until we hit the M5, which turned out to be shut for a couple of junctions with the diversion taking you to another junction, which again was shut. At this point we gave up and booked in to a Premier Inn for the night, finishing the trip after a few hours’ kip, again in the rain. A grand total of 1120 miles covered.
More pics can be found HERE
I must say a big massive thank you to Fonzy and all the N.I.Rats for their very warm and fantastic hospitality and for a fantastic weekend which ended up making £260 for local charity, Tiny Life which look after premature babies. Would we do it again, too bloody right. Summed up in one word, it was EPIC.