Quote "So what's this Fred Hill run all about then ? Can't see the point in dragging my bike out of its winter hibernation in the middle of February and going on the same old route year after year in the freezing cold wind rain and snow to a pub in the middle of nowhere and then turning round and coming back again". Unquote.
I have actually heard those words spoken and to the uninitiated I can understand why the question might be asked as it does seem a rather foolhardy thing to do. However, once one understands the history behind the Fred Hill run, that it is in fact to honour a remarkable man who was prepared to go to jail rather than give up his principles on the freedom of choice it becomes a little clearer. There is an obituary here so I won't go into them too deeply but I will give my reasons for attending. I never met Fred Hill but I do hold the same beliefs as he did, as I am sure all other MAG members do. Which is we (motorcyclists) should have the right to decide how, where and when we ride our bikes without interference from healthy and safety zealots who would seek to ban us from riding at all and encase us in metal boxes complete with crumple zones and anti-roll bars and completely insulated from the outside world. So I believe in what Fred Hill stood for, the difference between me and him is that I am not prepared to face prosecution and go to jail for contempt of court, but I am prepared to put up with some discomfort and endure an uninspiring ride in order to pay my respects to man a greatly admire.
Thus I arrived at Squires on a cool overcast Sunday morning and was greeted by Sharon, Terry, Chas, Bill and Eddie. We were the entire contingent of 'Lost Riders' representing Wakefield MAG and on looking around the car park I exchanged nods with other familiar faces from surrounding MAG groups and affiliated bike clubs. Considering the weather wasn't actually too bad I thought the total turnout was down from previous runs I have attended, and wondered if an alternative route should be considered for next year. Or it could be simply the time of year and admittedly a summer run would probably be better attended but Fred couldn't help when he died so I guess it will stay as it is.
Anyway we mounted up and 43 bikes threaded our way out of the car park and headed towards Tadcaster. It always makes me smile when I see a line of bikes and trikes both in front and behind me and the look of surprise and bewilderment on the faces of car drivers and pedestrians as we thunder by. I can't help giving them a friendly wave and many wave back or clap their hands and give us a cheer and thumbs up. They will have no idea what we are doing or where we are going but there is no doubt it is always an impressive sight.
So onward we went through Boston Spa and on to Collingham but on approaching the traffic lights at Harewood we were prevented from turning right by a blockade of police cars who had closed the road due it seems to an accident. Undeterred we had to turn left and find an alternative route to our final destination at the Sun Inn. The rest of the ride was uneventful and praise must be given to the floating marshals who could be seen growing larger in my mirrors and hurrying on to the next junction to stop traffic and allow our convoy to proceed unhindered.
It wasn't long before we were crossing the river Wharfe at Pool and climbed up the hill before descending into the valley and crossing Fewston reservoir then up again and arriving at the Sun.
There followed a short speech and thank you to all those who attended by Manny (Leeds MAG Rep) after which a few photos were taken of our 'gang' by Eddie before making our own way home.
So that's another one under the belt and hopefully not the last, for all being well I will return next year to do it all again in memory of Fred, may he rest in peace.