York Rally 2019

We first attended the York Cycle Rally last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to go again, so we became ‘Friends of York Rally’ and signed up this year as volunteer helpers. This meant we got to go there last Thursday, a day earlier than the official start. We arrived at lunch-time, had lunch then got stuck in, helping with some filing of booking forms into alphabetical order to make it easier for those allocating pitches when people arrived. We had asked for a sitting down job as my husband can’t do much walking due to dodgy knees. A BBQ was provided free of charge for the organisers and helpers in the evening – a great chance to meet other volunteers. We had also discovered that free refreshments were provided for volunteers throughout the Rally at mid-morning, lunchtime  and mid-afternoon so we didn’t actually need much of the food that we had taken with us.

Gathering for Saturday’s Retro Ride

There was a briefing for all helpers first thing on Friday morning and jobs were also then allocated for the day. We were given the job of manning the Rally HQ stall in the main marquee for the morning. Although the official time for arrivals was not until 4.00pm there was plenty to do as people wanted programmes and information about the location of facilities as well as bringing donations of cycle related books, clothing and parts or to buy some of these things in support of Rally funds. We took advantage of this stall ourselves too, picking up a few bargains! We were free for the afternoon and in the evening there was  a Quiz for teams of up to 6 people. We joined forces with another volunteer couple, calling ourselves ‘Tail-End Charlies’ and this is exactly what we were, coming last! Although it was officially a ‘general knowledge’ quiz, we found that the questions, even the history or geography ones, were highly biased towards knowledge of obscure facts about Yorkshire and it’s famous sons and daughters – knowledge our team was sadly lacking.

On Saturday we had signed up to the ‘Retro Ride’ so had no volunteer duties for the day. This started at 9.50am, took in a large circular route out from York Race Course where we were camped, to Tadcaster and back, with a café stop half way. Some hundred-odd people took part in this ride which, due to numbers, was split into two groups. We had taken our classic Henry Burton bikes for this ride. We returned to the Rally site in time for lunch after a ride of approximately 27 miles, allowing us an afternoon to look round the trade stands and the auction preview – where people could sell unwanted bikes etc. There was nothing we wished to buy so didn’t attend the auction.

On Sunday morning we were once more in volunteer mode, spending some time manning the gate into the Saddlebag Sale – this is a sort of bicycle jumble sale. Sellers could set up from 10.00am and it was open to the public from 11.00am. Volunteers were needed on the gate to prevent buyers from trying to sneak in early! I then did another stint on the Rally HQ stall, selling badges, programmes etc as on Friday.

Ice-Cream Boat

In the afternoon we went on a short ride out to the local velodrome and back along the riverside where the ‘Ice-cream boat’ was a major attraction, despite the weather not being quite as warm as it had been on Saturday. We used our recently built ‘champagne’ tandem for this ride of approximately 11 miles with only 8 people taking part. Clearing up of the site had begun in earnest by the time we returned and by 5.00pm many people had already left. In the evening and overnight it rained, heavily at times, and we moved the motorhome nearer to the roadway than our pitch in the middle of the field, to ensure we could get off in the morning.

Monday morning saw us preparing to leave and I also spent another short volunteer stint helping to remove HQ stuff from the marquee while the hire firm were busy taking it down. Hubby sat this one out as he had already done far too much walking and was suffering the consequences.

We left about mid-morning as we had arranged to pick up some things from a friend in Derby on our way home. It rained much of the morning though it cleared up a bit by lunchtime and we arrived home around mid-afternoon, exhausted but having had a wonderful time. This was an extremely well-organised Rally, which is entirely run by a committee of volunteers and there was much more going on than I have mentioned here, including many more rides and plenty to entertain families with young children too. Roll on next year when we plan to volunteer again.

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