Despite the lousy weather yesterday everyone made it back to Brighouse yesterday after a very eventful and hopefully for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) worthwhile weekend of monkey related fundraising!
I apologise for the length of this page but so many people and organisations were involved and have been so generous both financially and with their time that I wanted to try and thank everyone involved and give you my take on the weekend.
It was definitely a game of two halves with the halftime entertainment in Scarborough dividing a day of great weather/fast riding from a day of lousy weather/slow (but safe) riding punctuated by a variety of planned and unplanned stops. It went something like this:
We formed up slightly later than hoped at Bankstone in Brighouse after photographers from the Brighouse Echo and Huddersfield Examiner got us posing and then doing a ride by as Kerry Garner from the Yorkshire Air Ambulance waved us off The bikes that set off (in alphabetical order) were: Bankstone Gorilla (Me) Bikesure Black (Matt Sopp and Grant Varnham) Bikesure Chrome (Lee Boughen and Tom Lake) BLD Super Gorilla (Clay Moule) BLD tartan seated shopper (Mike McMillan – thought they said chopper) Bott and Co (Denis Wakefield and Malcolm Crompton but mainly Denis) Colin Waterman on the big monkey Jon Fawcett on the black seated monkey – wise seat swap before the event Motorbelle Chrome (Nick Chalkley) Premier Medical Group (Matt Dakin and Louis Blenkiron) Other vehicles in the convoy were: Copart lead Shagwar containing expert lead car driver Martyn Buchan and exemplary navigator and artistic director Stephen Tacey PMG van with Graeme Hills, Louis Blenkiron and YAA related dressing up gear Bikesure van with whichever of the Bikesure boys were not on the bikes Bott and Co Range Rover with Paul Hinchliffe, Susan Luya, Will and Archie Hinchliffe – all excellent bucket shakers, Archie was the curly haired 9 year old who reckons he jangled for the most cash and told people he only took notes! Bott and Co Passat with the lovely Bott and Co ladies consisting of Laura Curbishley – driver, Marie Goulbourne, Georgia Cross, Laura Higginbotham and Katie Race – also excellent bucket shakers and mobile phone suit wearers BLD support van with Chris Bennison and family containing spare fuel and 2 spare bikes
The first planned stop was at Websters Insurance in Brighouse town centre where Jez and his staff made us very welcome and helped us get some great photos, blocking the pavement with all the bikes lined up across the front of his office, whilst the bucket shaking crew worked the crowd of bemused onlookers extracting as much cash as possible for the cause
After a brief stop to top up the tanks in Keighley we arrived at Colin Appleyard motorcycles where their customers were encouraged to donate as we formed up for the photos and then formed an orderly queue for the single toilet. Thank you to Kevin and his staff for their forbearance as Bernie lurched menacingly around the showroom whilst Clay and Mike from BLD tried to stem the oil leak from the BLD Gorilla with some instant gasket. 19 miles covered at this point.
Back into the saddle again the plan was to ride non-stop to Ilkley however someone had kindly left diesel on a sharp right hand bend in Riddlesden which accounted for Matt Dakin from PMG and me. Unfortunately Matt hurt his wrist and discovered soon after that he was not able to ride however Louis Blenkiron was able to take over whilst Matt drove the PMG van. This was a very important role as the van contained both Bernie the Bear and the Bazza Bank suits which were to make photo call appearances at most of the stops – Graeme Hills is now an expert at dressing as a bear – so much so several of us suspect he had been getting some clandestine practice in since last year.
After a brief flapjack stop at the picturesque Cow and Calf we descended into Ilkley and lined the bikes up across the shop front of Moto Strada who had very kindly laid on some refreshments and handed over a considerable donation for the privilege of hosting the stop, I am sure the publicity will be worth the effort. 31 miles covered.
It was then off to Harrogate however the BLD Gorilla finally gave up at Askwith and Clay swapped to the spare monkey leaving the Gorilla in the support van. After crossing and recrossing the reservoirs, and negotiating the fearsome Harrogate one way system our redoubtable lead car, driven enthusiastically by Martyn Buchan led us to NCi on Victoria Avenue where we once again proceeded to block the pavement and were met by Neil, Craig, Richard and some of their staff. We were taken up to the fourth floor and presented with a fantastic lunch and the loan of some tools for some running repairs. After a photo call both inside their very impressive offices (which involved taking one of the monkeys in the lift) and outside, we once again formed up and headed for Northallerton. We had travelled 49 miles at this point. The Bott and Co Range Rover left us at this stop as Paul had to return home with his family, we missed your bucket shaking once you had gone!
Our navigator Stephen Tacey surpassed himself in the choice of roads as we headed North via a brief fuel stop before arriving at Simon Bailes accident repair centre (thanks to Dave Rathmell for organising this) where we were joined by Andy Jones to ride the spare monkey, allowing Clay to ride the BLD Bandit. 99 miles into the trip.
After the photos had been taken we set off and Clay took on the vital role of traffic marshal, blocking off roundabouts and junctions to allow the convoy to stay together. Sutton Bank proved more traumatic than usual as we were reduced to a crawl and Andy found that it was easy to wheelie (albeit unintentionally) a tartan seated shopper. The bikers decided to overtake the offending trucks and waited for the convoy to reform at the top of the hill. It was then an easy run via a brief fuel stop in Helmsley to our overnight stop in Scarborough. 169 miles covered in one day.
What can I say about Scarborough other than we will include the Delmont Hotel on our black list as well as the Grand! Great sea view but no breakfast until after 8.30 and we hoped to get away at 9am! Malcolm Crompton from Bott and Co joined us for the evening’s entertainment and was determined to have a ride on the Bott and Co monkey despite being slightly less prepared for the weather than most of us. Chris Bennison and the BLD van had returned to Brighouse with some of the bikes and it returned Sunday morning piloted by Andy Kinder who very generously gave the Delmont crew just enough time to consume a McDonalds breakfast before we set off in the rain in front of the many hotel residents that had come out to wave us off after being woken up when we fired up the monkeys!
First stop was at Oliver’s Mount where we had hoped to shake the buckets in front of the gathering bikers arriving for the motorcycle race held there. The road was blocked, and our lead car made the executive decision to make a U-turn and head straight off via another fuel stop towards the next stop at U-Pullit at Full Sutton. Very wise move in hindsight as we all know how tricky it is to extract loose change from motorcycle gear when dressed for bad weather and we would have caused traffic chaos! We did not know it at this point but with the exception of a 10 minute period it was to rain all day.
We arrived at U-Pullit to find Dave Stansfield and John Close had provided refreshments and even better had arranged dry indoor parking for the photo-shoot – top effort! After a last go in the bear costume Graeme, Louis and Matt loaded their poorly monkey and even more poorly Matt into their van and left us for the long drive home – get well soon Matt. We had travelled 212 miles at this point and all the bikes were suffering from electrical gremlins in the rain, loose chains and even looser fixtures and fittings which required constant tightening as we rode around. Considering the abuse they were receiving the gallant monkeys were doing their best to see us to the finish and we were to only lose one more before the end.
From U-Pullit we had a scenic route to the centre of Leeds via Elvington, the scene of possibly the most famous Yorkshire Air Ambulance rescue where on 20th September 2006 it collected Richard Hammond, the Top Gear presenter, after his 280mph jet powered car crash. Unfortunately the tartan seated shopper carrying Andy Jones gave up on the way and had to be carried on the BLD van which gave Andy a chance to try and dry his jeans out, his choice of clothing had been led by our usual inaccurate weather forecasts! We also almost lost leg wonder Malcolm Crompton (so called because he only completed one leg) who was bravely riding wearing trainers and no socks, when he changed down by mistake and tried to go grass tracking on his own short cut across the fields. Those that saw him do this awarded him 10 out of 10 for artistic impression and have only just stopped laughing. We arrived at Leeds Harley Davidson however the weather prevented any meaningful bucket shaking but the reception and hot coffee was very welcome. We were met by Nicky DeWhytell and her long suffering partner Michael Massen on behalf of the YAA and she was able to thank everyone who had taken part before Nick Chalkley and Mike McMillan loaded their bikes onto the BLD van and went straight to Brighouse, Nick to get on the motorway back to Buckinghamshire and Mike to get the BBQ fired up ready for the triumphant arrival later in the afternoon. It was Nick’s first monkey event and I hope it has not put him off, although judging by our phone conversation as he sat stationary in traffic southbound on the M1 later and he described in great detail the extensive list of modifications he intends to perform to his bike before next year’s event perhaps not! Malcolm then took the opportunity to dry himself in the car whilst Denis took over for the last two legs and we set off from Leeds with the remaining 6 monkeys, we had covered 265 miles at this point.
We were heading for Northern Assessors at Clayton West but somewhere around the Yorkshire Post roundabout we lost Colin Waterman. He tried brave heartedly to catch us up but Martyn had led him to believe we were heading towards the White Rose Centre whereas in fact we were heading towards IKEA so after phoning the lead car he decided that it would be best to head straight home, sorry you missed the last stop and barbeque Colin but thanks anyway! We were now only five, Jon Fawcett on the black seated shopper, the incredibly resilient Bikesure boys who were fighting each other for a chance to ride each leg and despite 3 of them still being learner riders showed us much more experienced riders a thing or two, Denis Wakefield and me. The sun came out just before Clayton West, ready for the final photo shoot of the day at 288 miles but as soon as we had set off again it started raining again for the final run in to BLD in Brighouse where the barbeque was in full swing.
Mike and Andy worked wonders with the burgers, beer and sausages and everyone except Jon was relieved to be able to get into some dry clothes for the drive home, he was riding back – talk about glutton for punishment! We covered 301 miles in total along some great roads, through some great scenery (when we could see it through the rain) and for a great cause which we did not need to use thanks to skilled and safety conscious riding by all those concerned.
Thank you again to every one of you that has been involved in whatever capacity. I hope everyone had a good time and if so please tell all your friends as I would love to organise a similar event next year. We have learnt a few more lessons and I have received a few suggestions, the printable ones are as follows:
Paid for stops are great for fund raising – do again next year The best stops are those with a welcoming committee To plan a lunch stop each day that includes a fuel and fettling stop for the bikes to be checked over, loose bits tightened, chains adjusted and lubricated by competent mechanics. We need a dedicated photographer/video camera person and could use a handlebar mounted camera on one of the bikes The lead and tail vehicles need some sort of signage so people know what we are doing We all need to eat together on the Saturday night
If you would like to take part next time please contact Dickon Tysoe at firstname.lastname@example.org If you do not already have a monkey bike we can help obtain these from Easy Rider who have once again heavily subsidised the price to help the charity.
You can see the Yorkshire Air Ambulance in action on the television as series 4 of Helicopter Heroes has just started airing on weekday mornings at 9.15 on BBC1. It is also being broadcast in HD for the first time, it is what Sky Plus and the iPlayer were made for!
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