Monday, 7 June 2010

An Epilogue

As an epilogue to my story, I thought I'd give an account of my trip to Billing Aquadrome on Saturday.

I had my arm twisted for going there, and to be honest, the only excuse for not going, was the fact that I was tired. Our daughter, Beverly, lives in Bedford so I could easily drive up there with Chopper on the rack and stay with her and Pete. Billing is less than 20 miles up the road to Northampton, so a quick couple of hours up the A428 would be a doddle. I had no real excuse.

Besides, after my mammoth JOGLE, I felt a little bereft of a proper end to the story. Yes, I'd ridden the length of the country, but that was it! Finished. Done. By going to Billing 2010, I was getting a closure to my expedition. I was turning a page and ending the story gently.

So off I went on Friday morning for the 5 or 6 hour drive. I took my time and the journey went quickly and easily. A30/M5/M4/A34 to Bicester, then A421 and A422 to Bedford via Milton Keynes. Chopper survived the journey strapped on the back, and after parking the car, I hopped on and rode the mile or two to the Bedford Arms where Beverly is bar manager!

Any road up, Saturday morning came, and after a good breakfast, I hitched Trailer up and cycled off to Billing. The road was undulating with no particular hills, just rolling countryside and pretty villages - Turvey is gorgeous.

At about 11am, I turned into the Aquadrome and slowly surveyed the place. It was teeming with people. It seems there were a few gatherings there, not least of which was the Street Hotrod meeting, so there were hundreds of beefed-up cars and classics to see. I was overtaken more than a time or two by these cars on the road there, and as I arrived there was a queue of them at the barriers on their way in.

I went round and round, and saw no Raleigh Choppers anywhere and was about to make my way back to the main gate to ask where they were when I spied a couple as their riders were just getting off. I rode over and asked where all the Choppers were! They pointed out the general direction and said they were in a field beyond all the cars, so off I went in search.

Within a few minutes I found them!

There were literally hundreds of Choppers. I wouldn't have believed that there were so many left. Some were immaculate, some modified - even some with engines! - and some Choppers in a worse condition than mine.

People of all ages were riding them around the park, and I felt immediately at home! I had been more than a little worried that I would find a load of boring "anoraks" and "spotters" there with them all being serious and earnest. Not on your nellie! A more friendly and relaxed bunch of people, you couldn't find anywhere.

Within seconds of my arrival, Lampost Dave had met me and proffered a beer to me. He shook my hand and congratulated me and we chatted a while, and I surveyed the place. I was introduced to Querty500 and to Catfood Rob, and dozens of others and I'm sorry not to have remembered their names. Whilst I was there, people would read the side of Trailer and chat to me and study the modifications. I've no idea how many times I repeated myself over the hours.

There was a packed programme of events that day, and before I knew it, we were all assembling for a "Cruise" around the park. Such fun! All those Choppers and modified bikes and Low Riders, all pedalling gently round, in an out of the lanes sounding all manner of bells, whistles and horns. I especially liked the Police Chopper - a Copper! - in black and white check with a siren!

There were parents and children, and parents and little kids in trailers, older kids, big Choppers, Chippers, Grifters, RSW 11's and 14's, Raleigh 20's, Moultons, Cruisers, Low riders, motorised bikes, and a Chopper Tandem too!

It was good to see an RSW11, both our daughters rode one. (without stabilisers, I might add!)

I took a film or two, but I'd forgotten to re-format the storage disk. Sorry! So I couldn't get too much footage. What I should have done, was to re-format, then re-take the footage I'd already got. Instead, I just switched off and put it away. In hindsight, I was wrong to have done it like that. Catfood Rob wore his Starwars Trooper outfit and rode his Starwars Chopper about, there was a Impossible-to-Ride Chopper with reverse-steering, and folk sat about in the sunshine next to their collections of bikes. Everywhere I looked, people were relaxing and having fun.

Mid afternoon, the judging took place of the Show Bikes. The Mk1 that won was a absolutely beautiful. Ruby red in such depth it took your breath away. The chrome-work was perfect and it shone in the sunshine looking FAR better that it did when it was new! A well deserved win.

The other categories, if I remember correctly, were Mk2, Muscle Bikes and Low Riders. There may have been another category - I'm sure someone will fill the gaps for me! Also, a fully chromed Low Rider was being raffled off for a £1 a ticket.

Then came the awards ceremony.

I was given a Top Man Award! I was speechless, more than a little tearful, and very humbled by it. Thank you everybody!

At 4pm, there was another cruise, so off we all went again! I said my good-byes and would peel off for Bedford as we went out to the main roundabout. As I left, I shouted a cheery good-bye and was off back to Bedford. A roar went up as I left!

Thank you all, for reading this blog. It's been an absolute pleasure to have composed it, and I'm going to miss the regular musings and typing.
(Perhaps I need another project!)

Thanks and regards


  1. Wonderful! I'm so happy they gave you an award, but not at all surprised. Perhaps you'll really start to get an idea of just how people feel about your JOGLE on a Chopper. Most of us are impressed beyond words, and cannot adequately verbalise the esteem in which we hold you. You are a true English adventurer, verging on eccentric, and we love you for it!

  2. Very nice of them & well deserved ;>D

    Ditto what Graham said, esp' the 'English adventurer' sentiment!

  3. Totally agree with Graham W. And, on top of that Mick is a jolly nice guy and a throughly 'good egg'.

  4. Thanks guys!

    You all say such kind words, but I'm lost for words!
    Thank you.

    Regards to all,

    What am I going to do with Chopper?

  5. The Chopper must be preserved, along with the story of it's JOGLE adventure, in a museum or exhibition where it can inspire others :-)

  6. Once again well done but perhaps the more important part you have left out how much did you make for the school.


  7. Hi,
    The monies are coming in, and continue to come in. So far, the total banked is £906.71 and with the promises to come, we should make the thousand.

    I know we could have publicised a great deal more, and I know that newspapers and TV would have got hold of my story, but all this takes one heck of a lot of effort on the part of the fundraiser. Believe me, I've done it before. People have suggested this and that, they've suggested this way and that way to get more funds to publicise the ride, and I ask them: "Organise it please!" Nowt happens! I offer to give them info and my profile etc, and what happens? Nowt.

    Honestly, the effort involved with fundraising is huge. It's far better IMHO to pander to peoples' best nature and let them decide.

    The school is a small Cornish school, no more than 70 pupils. The Infants/Key Stage 1/Reception children are doing well and the numbers are increasing, but further up the school it's not so good.

    All schools have problems, and Gunnislake School has more than others. Any dosh that can come their way can only be a good thing. A thousand pounds is a great deal of money to our little school.

    Hilary has been connected with Gunnislake School for many years. She was the Lollipop Lady in the village for ten years, and a Lunchtime Supervisor too. She's still on duty for lunchtimes and is now a High Level Teaching Assistant though she's now dropped the Lollipop Lady job.

    We've lived in Gunnislake for over 25 years, and are attached to the place. We love it here and are part of the fabric, we are known here and are involved in all the social life. It may be a little village in Cornwall, and we may have come from Lancashire originally and not actually be Cornish, but this place is Heaven. Unless you come here and see the place, unless you come here and experience the life in the Tamar Valley, you may not understand what I'm on about. Honestly, they'll have to drag us out in a box from here.

    Anything we can do for the Valley, we are more than happy to do. My ride was a laugh and a hoot, it was also hard work and momentous. It was ridden on an iconic bit of British cycling history, and I'm proud to have done it.

    Thanks for reading.