The stream of motorbikes accelerating past me was a clue I was close to Ragley Hall for the ABR Festival. I did feel the odd one out in my car as I joined a line of bikes entering the grounds of the hall. I exchanged my ticket for passes and sticker and drove onto one of the camping areas. Unlike other festivals I have attended there was plenty of space to pitch my home for the weekend. The weekend runs from Thursday to Sunday but due to other commitments I had arrived lunch time on the Friday. I decided to go for a walk and discover what the festival has to offer.
So many beautiful bikes, parked by tents, on trailers, on manufacturers stands, ready to test ride on roads, ready to test ride on trails and classic bikes that had taken on extraordinary adventures.
The mornings see riders book places to ride the wide variety of bikes on either the road or one of the trail routes. A demonstration that speed is not the only determinate of skill was the inch perfect trials area. They had riders attempting a marked course including tight corners on electric trails bikes.
My favourite part of the weekend was watching the bikes take on the expert trail. This included a water splash followed by a muddy hill climb. It was great to watch and photograph and every credit to all the riders that attempted the route. It was also good to see the riders helping each other when one was stuck in the mud or their bike decided to have a sleep. I must also give credit to all the trail marshals who really did work hard keeping the bikers safe and able to enjoy the trails.
There were so many bikes at the manufacturers stands which allowed you to try them for size as well as ask questions and dream of a garage filled with your favourites.
Once in the festival you could be kept busy without spending any additional money or you could spend a small fortune on all the bike parts and riding gear. I was good and only purchased a pair of jeans and small dry bag. The advantage of the festival stalls is being able to chat to the experts and also try things on you or the bike. If money was no object I would have needed a van to get my purchases home!
There were presentations within the tents from various riders. It was great to hear their stories and then have the opportunity to ask questions. You will come away wanting to plan and head off on your own adventure. It was noted that most of the presenters stayed for the weekend and were more than happy to chat about bikes and adventures. Who knew that the Missenden Flyer had such good dance moves!
There was a lovely chilled atmosphere in the tent as the acoustic act played and it was a great place to relax and consider the day. The ABR team member that selected the performers for the main stage did a brilliant job. All the bands played great sets and the crowds joined in singing and dancing.
There is a staggering array of food outlets running from breakfast to evening meal. I dont think there were many continents not covered in the selection on offer. Mention has to go to the caribbean food team who didnt stop dancing during service all night. There are plenty of places to get a brew but the magic teapot is a bit special. Large kettles boil away on the open fire as a group of musicians jam on piano and guitar inside a giant wooden yurt like structure.
I met and chatted with so many interesting friendly people over the weekend and all had one thing in common the love of riding bikes.
I already have a ticket for next year. I think that says it all.
Huge thanks to the ABR team for allowing me the opportunity to shoot the event and all the riders who smiled as I shot them even when picking their bikes up!