Speed dating for the over sixties

Turning from the A5 at Capel Curig towards Llanberris and Snowdon the road becomes a coiling snake of motorcyclists. ( By 1965, the Dragon needed a bigger venue, and so it moved back to the Llanberis valley, to a site now known as the Glyn Rhonwy business park, but then more commonly known as Glyn Padarn.Sited between the mountains and Padarn lake, Glyn Padarn had started life as a series of slate quarries, following the exposure of the slate seam up the hillside.Each year, those of us who still remember let our minds drift back.I often wonder how many other "old-timers" still go to reminisce at Glyn Padarn on Dragon weekend, even though we gave up on the rally itself years ago.For 1974, the Conwy club gained the use of a farm in the Lledr valley, near Betws-y-Coed, and riders were given an approach map that took them on a pleasant tour of the surrounding forest tracks.The site was easy to get on to, but after a weekend of rain, many bike wheels and many more drunken wellies, it was reduced to a liquid mud-bath, in places more than knee-deep!For the first hundred miles you see no other motorcyclists and begin to think that you are travelling on the wrong weekend or to the wrong place. To allow Elephant rally-goers a couple of weeks to thaw out a little after the January snows of deepest Germany, the Dragon was set for the second weekend in February and, with the odd exception, has held to that date ever since.But as soon as you stop for fuel the other riders, who have been travelling at the same speed in the same direction, begin to stream past. ) equivalent of the then well-established Elephant Rallies at the Nurburgring in Germany, the first Dragon was held in 1962 at Bryn Bras Castle, near Llanberis in North Wales, by the Conway & District M. It is believed that only about 200 riders attended the first Dragon, and the "badge" was a fabric patch.

If you visit the remains of the site today you might still sense a glimpse of the old bikes, rattling and covered in salt and mud - Vincents by the dozen, the low BWM semi-racing outfits from the continent, a gleaming Brough, and every mongrel conglomeration of British machinery you could possibly imagine.You won't find them now, as the lake-bed is a jumble of slate waste that moves in huge volumes each winter.) Mind you - that's not so strange as the year a rider went home and forgot to take his bike with him.....Managing the size of the Dragon had by now caused rifts within the Conwy & District club, and for 19 (Gwrych at Abergele, and then back to Llanberis), the Dragon was organised by a break-away division of the club when the badges changed to roundels with a bar beneath By 1972, the rift had healed, and the Dragon was held at Glyn Padarn for the last time.Getting off the site was an object lesson in what Dunkirk must have been like...1975 and '76 saw the first use of the now-familiar waterworks site at Capel Curig, but in 1977 the rally moved to the upper end of the village, and to another windswept hill....

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