Mach 2.5 – The After Party – Trails and Tequila!! 25-27th August 2017

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Mach 2.5 – The After Party – Trails and Tequila!! 25-27th August 2017

Post  Radar on Fri Jan 05 2018, 21:53

Sorry this is so long after the event!

Mach 2.5 – The After Party – Trails and Tequila!!
25-27th August 2017

Mach 2.5 is a smaller, more intimate follow up to the much larger Mach2 Motorcycling festival which took place earlier in the year over the May bank holiday. The so called ‘After-Party’ is actually held at Nick Sander’s base and Exhibition Centre near Machynlleth in Wales. Nick Sanders is perhaps the foremost ‘adventure’ motorcyclist of our generation and many of us have followed his amazing exploits over the years, riding everything from Enfields to R1’s all over the world. He is, as you might expect, a bit of a character. I have enjoyed attending a few of his madcap talks so to go and spend time with him, at his base in the company of some like-minded souls and go on a ride out led by him was something I was understandably excited about.
My ride over there didn’t get off to the best of starts when I discovered on route that a bottle of Speckled Hen beer that was to be my ‘starter’ for the weekend had decided to leak and all the gear in top-box now had a rather ‘hoppy’ ambience…hey ho! My mood was lighted somewhat as I hoke up with Big E and his lovely wife Debs on the way in Rhyder. There was a slight glitch in so much as the ‘superb’ bikers pub that Big E had said he would meet was in fact not merely closed, but completely shut down. Luckily there was another excellent pun over the road! Panic over…not that was actually panicking, but you know what I mean!

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You bump into all sorts of folks in Wales...

It had been a tough few weeks at work and just felt so good to be on a bike in good company wafted across some of the best countryside Wales has to offer…and that is saying something. It wasn’t a day for screaming revs and late braking….just ease the bike along and drink in the feeling of just being ‘out-there’…bliss
After a traditional, but mercifully brief session of ‘where the f#ck is the place’ we spotted the entrance and turned in, following a beaded chap on a bizarre gold Triumph Sprint combo. The exhibition centre sits on top of hill and a bumpy, muddy track leads up to it. This will be fun on my 600 shod on road tyres! No sooner had started to gingerly make my up the track when Nick Sanders himself came down to greet us…riding a Yamaha trials combo and sporting an ancient ’piss-pot’ helmet. The signs were pretty clear already: It was going to an interesting weekend!
I got to the centre with surprisingly little bother in the end, the Thundercat really is a versatile old bus. The centre is great. A bar is housed in one barn, a sound stage in another and overlooking them both was my accommodation for the event….a superb ‘Bell-Tent’. I had opted for the onsite ‘Glamping’. Already set up for you and with a huge and very comfy double air-bed. They can be made to cater for 4 people which spreads the costs. But I had gone for one on my own to escape from it all. Above us, further up the hill, is the actual exhibition centre itself, where Nick and others hold talks and show films detailing there journeys and adventures round the world. Really the place is a dream location, blessed with fabulous views, loads of places for toys, a bar and a music venue! What’s not to like!!?

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By the time I settled in and grabbed something to eat, Andy and Bev rocked up on their BMW and completed our little group of six. Altogether around 70 or so people would be here for the weekend to enjoy the talks, drink the beer, eat the food, listen to the music, party into the night, ride our bikes in the day and just generally enjoy ourselves.

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Nick himself gave a couple of interesting talks about his past travels and future plans, and also introduced some of his friends who regaled the crowd with tales of how they had enjoyed travelling and seeing the world from the saddle of a bike

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There were even pirates moving amongst us singing sea shanties!

The first night’s entertainment started in the live performance area with the ‘Dorchester Duo’, classically trained musicians playing the violin and Cello, but playing a number of rock classics, they were fantastic and a great when to get the evening underway. As the light dropped the fire pits were lit and the atmosphere just built up as an ad-hoc Blues band fronted by a lady called Maggie. Nobody really drank much, despite the excellence of the beer (and the rather stunning bar staff!) as we on the bikes in the morning.

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Our crew settle for a night of music and beer...

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Trust me when I say that this photo doesn't the lady in gold dress justice!

Nonetheless as the blues band and firewood crackled in unison, the banter flowed and a superb evening was enjoyed by all. I made my way back to tent, a contented and happy man. You can’t say fairer than that.

Dawn broke, and the weather was fairly typical for August ban holiday in Wales….overcast. What do you expect? It’s not the Algarve you know!After a hearty breakfast (included in the costs if you went for glamping) and a mildly chaotic briefing courtesy of the great man himself, the 60+ bikes gradually formed up and headed off deep into the Welsh countryside.

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Nick going through the plan for the day...

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Wagons roll!!

Mr Sanders was on the MT-07 Tracer he is to use on his next adventure led the line. I must admit it did feel slightly surreal to actually be on a ride out with the man whose books and videos I have intently followed for many years. One or two rides had volunteered to marshal and tail-end the line, bless them. Fair play and thank you! In contrast to much of my riding in Wales we took to some very minor roads as the group picked its way across the countryside, It was great to honest, the relaxed pace and slow technical sections, suited the chilled vibe of the whole weekend. The Thundercat, in line that was made up mainly of adventure type bikes was coping very easily…as it always does. Though one particularly mud strewn bend that ran along a deep valley did give a pretty significant ‘bum-clenching’ moment.

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A selection pictures that don't really do the ride justice to be honest!

The first bike halt was at the Nant-y-Moch Dam, a lovely spot that also has a parking area big enough for the whole line of bikes. The moody skies, the lake and the surrounding mountains provided a suitably beautiful backdrop, that to be honest my humble camera phone pictures don’t really do justice. We just continued to wonder along the route Nick had selected and while we were in an area where I have ridden many times, the route was giving me a new perspective on things. Another halt was welcome and it was here that the group split (I don’t think intentionally) into two groups. We stayed with Nick’s. By now the sun was well and truly out, and in the relaxed nature of the day…Andy, Bev, Steve, Debs and me decided to head off to Aberystwyth on the coast for an ice cream. Had to be done! By now the weather had improved to such a point that the Welsh coast was doing a passable impression of the Mediterranean. I have noticed with Wales on a few occasions over the years, it is a bit weird, but most welcome! One large ice cream later we waddled back to base. Happy campers. A good days riding and no incidents…always a result!

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Enjoying the delights of Aberystwyth!

The second evening was just amazing….hard to convey in words the atmosphere…a dark Welsh mountainside, fire pits roaring, and two excellent bands….add in beer, a warm friendly crowd and some of your best mates and you have the mix for a special night. The headline act was the storming Folk/Celtic outfit known as ‘The Band from County Hell’. Frantic pace, tuneful folk vibe with strong Irish influences from the bands main protagonists…I was away with it! My inner Celt was well and truly triggered and before I knew I was jig about and singing in my very best ‘Plastic Paddy’ accent that I apparently roll out on these occasions…it just sort of happens! Deb was pulled from the throng by Nick and was jigging away (!?) with him for a while. A storming night during which I was also introduced to the delights of Tequila....a first for me, but definitely not a last! A few of use wound up the barn bar once the music stopped and spent a fantastic couple of hours, chatting, singing, laughing and joking.

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I did head back to my tent for a few hours much needed kip, but something just told me to outside (I think it was my blander if I am honest) and the hillside was bath in strange ethereal light as the sun dragged itself up and gradually spread its weak rays over the landscape. Steve was outside (again I suspect blander related!) and we just sat together for a while in silence and just savoured the moment.

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It kind of neatly encapsulated the weekend for me, a couple of days when I truly was transported away from my troubles and lived in the moment. Fantastic.

Originally posted on bikemeet.net
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