I had missed Neil’s hand at Thursdays meeting when I did a quick roll call of attendees for the demo run, and all my carefully prepared route directions went totally to pot when I realised that Neil, still on ‘L’ plates, wouldn’t be able to use the A1(M). A quick visit to the garage for the purchase of a road atlas and a bit of route re-planning. Fairly straightforward, follow the A638 straight through the centre of Doncaster, then onto Bawtry, picking up the A614 towards the A1 at Blyth, where it stops being a motorway and reverts back to a standard ‘A’ road. No worries.
We set off at 9:20 but unfortunately, the detour through the centre of Doncaster, plus the fact we couldn’t top 55mph meant slow progress. A quick comfort break at a services on the A1 confirmed the worst, at this pace, we weren’t going to make the Kings Lynn rendezvous by 12:30. Time to implement Plan B – park up Neil’s bike at the next services and he would go pillion on Leo’s 1100 Suzuki, thus enabling us to make better progress. Glad we had brought a couple of Oxford locks in the top box, didn’t want Neil’s bike getting stolen. With the bike securely parked up at the next services, we were able to step up the pace somewhat, although the fact the A17 junction was closed, necessitating a longer detour, via the A52 to pick up the A17 further south, didn’t help our progress either. However, we reached Scania Way in Kings Lynn by 12:40, perfect timing for the planned demo departure at 13:00. Great to see Andy Timms and a few others from Sheffield MAG there too. Some 300 bikes and trikes had gathered for the demo ride, pretty impressive, and far exceeding the numbers estimated beforehand by East Anglia MAG.
Decided we had enough time to refuel before the demo got underway. However, blighted by dodgy traffic lights and huge queues at the filling station, we got back to the meeting point to find everyone had set off. AR$E !!! East Anglia MAG’s time keeping is obviously that much better than Yorkshire’s !!!! However, a bit of filtering past the inevitable queue of cars on the A149 and we caught up with the tail end of the demo. A large number of tourists and locals welcomed the procession of bikes into the town and to the Green, a traditional bikers meeting point. It was actually quite a sight, 300 bikes riding slowly into town under police escort. Local press were there to cover the event and Leo and Neil were interviewed by Eastern Daily Press reporters (Wakefield MAG gets more press coverage than Posh and Beck’s these days !!!!).
Being at the seaside, we had to have fish & chips for lunch, well, it would have been rude not to wouldn’t it ?. As it happened, it was incredibly well timed as the heavens opened while we were feeding our faces, stopping just as we had finished, flukey or what ?!?
Following the inevitable purchase of Hunstanton Rock (well, we were at the seaside after all), we set off for home at 15:00. We only got a little bit lost in Kings Lynn !?! The only signposts seemed to be towards Hunstanton, Cromer or Norwich, none of which were in the direction we actually wanted to go. However, we managed to find a route vaguely labelled to the ‘North’ and picked up the A17 eventually. An uneventful trip up to Grantham where, sat at a set of traffic lights in the town, it started hailing. Hail doesn’t half make a racket as it bounces off your helmet !!! Thankfully it didn’t last long and we were all glad to stop off for a much-deserved warm drink at the services where we had left Neil’s bike earlier on. It was a good opportunity to clean our visors and bike headlights too as they were starting to build up a nice layer of road grime. It was getting dark by this point and, as we were not in a rush, made steady progress back up the A1 and retraced our route through Bawtry and Doncaster back towards Redbeck. The road filth on the visors was getting to be a bit of a problem by this point, so we ended up riding with the visors up so you could actually see where you were going, not good it has to be said. Someone needs to invent a wash wipe system for bike helmets !!!
We finally pulled up at Redbeck, nearly 12 hours after we had set off earlier in the day and having covered 300 miles. Totally knackering day but everyone agreed it had been immense fun and an event not to be missed. A huge thanks goes out to Neil who came on the run on his 125cc learner bike, there are not many learners who would have made that trip, shows a great commitment to the branch and to MAG in general, well done that man !!!
The demo was covered in the Eastern Daily Press, in Monday's (8th March) edition, and in the Lynn News, in Tuesday's (9th March) edition.